[Review] “Overachievers” (By MiriamFanz)

Overachievers <名門暗戰>
Hong Kong TVB Drama 2014

Producer: Marco Law
Genre: Modern, Business

Rating: stars3

Cast: Wayne Lai, Raymond Wong, Power Chan, Raymond Cho, Edwin Siu, Nancy Wu, Susanna Kwan, Maggie Siu


This series is exactly like the wealthy family that it is depicting – glamorous on the outside, but rotten on the inside. As an Anniversary series, Overachievers has a grand appearance: an all-star cast, extravagant sets, glamorous clothing… okay, maybe not so nice hairstyles… but the plot was a disaster.

Overachievers Elliot NgokIt’s easy to understand why the Chinese title was changed from Business Wars, because business was certainly the least of the worries in here. The first two episodes feature a seemingly intense war between father and son. But after that, it is almost forgotten and replaced with pointless drama between irrelevant characters. The Raymond-Nancy love-sickness was a drag. Power Chan and Maggie Shiu, while both are entertaining, add almost nothing to the overall plot. The entire Edwin-Sisley line was neither entertaining nor necessary.

After twenty episodes, you will realize you’ve gotten nowhere. Then in the last week or so, the plot takes a turn for the worse and we suddenly have a few wackos on our hands. Until finally, everything is wrapped up in a ridiculous ending.

Overachievers Raymond Wong Nancy WuThe biggest problem was certainly the dramatic character changes. Elliot Ngok’s character suddenly decides he’s going to push away all his children with his unreasonableness and Raymond Wong’s character becomes an insane serial killer. I get that these two characters drive the series to its climax, but it is really hard to watch when everything stems from such illogicialness. The character that was actually the most interesting, but ultimately wasted, was Susanna Kwan. From the way she handled her husband’s infidelity, she was made to seem like a smart, calculating lady who patiently awaits her chance for revenge. Yet in the end, she proves incapable of managing the corporation or getting revenge on her son’s true killer.

Wayne Lai seems to have lost his touch and now only acts as various versions of Chai Gau in his dramas. Raymond Wong has too much “force” in his acting, like the way he pushes his dialogue out or the way he grabs his female co-stars. Edwin Siu is over-exaggerative in his attempt to deliver comedy. Raymond Cho is good as the useless son, but this is not a break-through for him. Power Chan is the best of the “Five Tigers”, as he always finds a way to make his characters stand out. Elliot Ngok’s acting is just right as the patriarch and is also convincing in the scenes after his stroke. Amazingly, Jason Chan’s acting was not cringe-worthy in this series. There was only about one scene where I noticed his hands gesturing randomly. Fred Cheng is cute in his performance.

Overachievers Wayne Lai Maggie ShiuNancy Wu is a capable actress, but she never attracts attention on the screen. In contrast, Maggie Shiu can grab attention with her expressions or movements even when she is not talking. Susanna Kwan was the perfect choice for the semi-villainous step-mother. Unfortunately, her character didn’t use all of her potential. Grace Chan was impressive in her debut. She is natural and at ease next to the veterans, and her crying scenes can already beat out some actresses with more experience. Sisley Choi also made a good debut, but she has a weaker screen presence compared to Grace. Ali Lee was quite noticeable too.

Rating: 3/5. Overachievers underachieved.

The review is written by Miriamfanz, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com. Visit Miriamfanz’s blog!

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  1. i am glad that someone agrees w/ me about how we were at episode 20 and we were pretty much no where. then at episode 21 the plot took a big turn and everything started happening…. yeah, sisley/edwin and raymond/nancy love story lines were too much of a drag. i don’t think overall the story’s that logical or good either.

    1. This is classic TVB. Everything drags out and slows in the beginning, then rushes the heck out of the rest in the last episodes.

    2. I fully agree with this review. First 20 episodes does nothing to the plot, it is just a filler. The last 10 episodes rush everything to the point of being illogical. The best they can do is kill off Hugo by a lunatic??? Surely there is a better way to bring him down.
      Wayne, like you say, is using the same formula to all his role, a different variations of Chai Kau. His best was his portrayal of Chu Pak Gai. I think he has lost his passion for acting.
      For an Anniversary Series, this one is definitely a disappointment

      1. Agree. He only wants to look cool and strong with his characters.

  2. Well, this is your subjective opinion about this drama. I feel that this was one of the best drama this year.

    1. yes, overall it was a good movie but with a bad ending. It just ended way too easy and too fast. I was waiting all along to see how the revenge will take place, how Susanna Kwan will revenge (since she said to baby Lily “Smile, just go on smile” as if she will at least revenge on Ali Lee, etc. Jason was killed too abruptly too. Everything was so fast except for those dragging parts. It is such a kill joy.

      1. Yes, it is. And june is simply stating that she disagrees with your subjective opinion. Nothing wrong with that.

  3. I couldn’t even pass a few episodes. All these so called big productions, TVB really sucks these days really. My mom is correct, they are really plotless and forget it right after kind of shows or can barely get thru. They are that bad.

  4. I agree it might be a lil lagging in all the love lines but overall its a good drama im glad id watched it!!!

    Its also nice to know that there all good freinds behind camera saw the pics in Raymond Cho bday bash they have so much chemistry

  5. No wonder the ratings sucked for an anniversary series. Thx for the short and to-the-point review. This is one drama to skip. I agree about Raymond Wong’s acting. He tries to make up for his monotonous voice by over-acting, sometimes to the point of shouting. It’s the same in every drama.

  6. I disagree with the rating. I’d rate it higher because I feel this is one of the best but most underdeveloped story this year.

    “Power Chan and Maggie Shiu, while both are entertaining, add almost nothing to the overall plot. ”

    Well they were both cute, funny and in their own way the voice of reason and compassion in the harsh world the characters live in. They contribute to the story and they DO add to the plot.

    I disagree with the review overall.

    1. “Wayne Lai seems to have lost his touch and now only acts as various versions of Chai Gau in his dramas.”

      Absolutely disagree. The way his eyes speak volume when his “father” told him he was not his son, the pleading, the hurt, the pain. The way he flirt comically with Maggie, he is the most underrated romantic actor. The way he reacts to his environment, he maintains the character’s impulsiveness and daring and yet you get a sense this is a man of integrity who will never hurt his family even if his father refuses to acknowledge him. There are so much undercurrent in his performance, it was sublime. This is Wayne not at his absolute best but he is now standing up tall instead of a slump. And before Chai Gau, he was always acting that way from the beginning. Except Chai Gau is his signature role, hence you see Chai Gau in everything. Same with Power Chan’s hand gestures; it’s a habit and not a bad one. This is a series filled with wonderful performances and Wayne is one of the highlights.

      The problem is the underdeveloped story and the hanging story of Hugo who should be given prominence but kicking out Edwin and Sisley’s story.

      Power Chan was amazing in here; comical without being silly, an elegant performance.

      I am also impressed with Grace Chan who handled herself very well for her debut and I can hardly believe this is her debut, She did better than expected and I am eager to follow her acting career although she is difficult to look at.

      There is actually no big changes or sudden changes in the story, it’s just that what we see at the beginning was fake. The fakeness is peeled away and we are left bare with the hurt, the jealousy, the anger, the pain. The characters for the most part were consistent and justifies whatever they do. The ending was dramatic. I don’t mean the final ending, that was too much but what happened to Hugo was in its own way a justice and a great end. The only problem is I wish Hugo was given more time to develop, for his backstory why he could feel zero empathy for all the wrongs he did and he is in a way a cold hearted sociopath. In fact he is a cynical guy but wrapped as someone charming, smooth talker, handsome, sexy but deep down rotten and can’t be cured anymore. Oh how I wish Ruco got this role. Raymond Wong doesn’t seem to me as sexy, that’s the biggest setback. Unfortunately TVB just never develop on that.

      Jason Chan’s acting still suck, no matter what. His Chinatown English accent is cute to hear. This guy got the height, the looks, the built, the English but why oh why can’t he ever act??

      This series looks dramatic but the truth is it is less dramatic than OTT Line Walker. Overachievers had such potential to be a classic, just not much opportunity given to go beyond the potential. It’s a wonderful entertaining series but yes it is tedious to see Mike folding business every 5 episodes.

      I do however like that Ah Yip. Don’t know why, I just like that character.

      1. i recently re-watched “safe guards” and have to agree with miriamfanz that wayne seems to have lost his touch. i don’t think it’s entirely his fault though. since “rosy business”, more or less all his roles have been wealthy, refined and well educated characters with little personality. this leaves him limited room to showcase his acting skills. i like him best in roles that are either brash and fiery, or cute and quirky – basically any role he ever played before “rosy”.

      2. Funn,
        I fully agree with your comments. Wayne was great as always, Maggie of course was wonderful.
        I’m sorry, Jason Chan still sucks. He is so unnatural in all his dialogue and gestures.
        I don’t like Sisley and I usually like Edwin, but definitely not his character. His hunched shoulders for some reason bother me more and more.

    2. P/s

      Mepad = Ipad
      Whereshop = What’s app?

      I was expecting Itube!

      there are more, just can’t remember.

      And yes the tussle over Abe-ya was boring but it serves a purpose.

      1. Popcoin = bitcoin
        Buying via smartphone = Apple pay / Google wallet

      2. What do they call the payment system? Can’t remember. But popcoin was a nice touch. Once I heard that I knew it was all fraud!

      3. Popcoin = C coin = bitcoin

        I found it hilarious TVB somehow merged UA and Overacheivers’ finicial products and assets.

    3. “most underdeveloped story this year”

      That’s why I think it deserves this rating. It had so much more potential, but they chose to focus on the useless stuff.

  7. I wish Ali got more attention. Her acting is so freaken amazing. Like, I only seen her act in this and this other drama….dont remember the name, but her acting is quite impressive. She’s really pretty too.

    1. Agree with the statement about her acting being good, definitely think she can get far. As for her looks, I’ll just shut up.

  8. wow! i am really proud of Grace’s performance in overachievers and her crying scene is so impressive way mush better then the other actresses!!!~~

  9. Wayne name carried this series but I always saw raymond had the biggest role in the series

  10. I hated the ending. Would be much better if Raymond’s character was not just killed off so early. I rather see how Wayne’s character bring him down via business war. Not a boring drama to me, but seems so so so lacking in every sense….

    1. They were headed in that direction when they investigated the fraud of Popcoin, but for some reason, they decided to kill him instead. It was a shocking scene, but not the right way to end it.

      1. They ran out of time, that’s why.
        The plot was not developed properly

    1. Eh not easy. He lost everything and yet he can’t feel anything. He is beyond redemption. Except the series should have expanded on that. Horrible death. Stabbed multiple times. Maybe hr shld have vomit blood and then crawl to the door in trail of blood and then die. But I thought that scene was shocking. Never expected it.

  11. Does anyone remember what happened to Chiang Li… ( the baby that the elder Mr. Chiang and mistress had) at 2020… the baby would be almost least 10… ?

    Did I miss something?

  12. Like Reo, I have the same question, what happened to baby Lily? I skipped some episodes…

  13. It was a real lousy drama. So much hype yet delivered so little. In fact the reviewer was too generous already. I would have given it two stars instead with that rushed anti climax ending and cheesy bits towards the last 10 minutes or so.anti Also wrong casting especially Raymond Wong. He doesn’t have the attributes to play a desirable hunk and as such tried too hard in that role. It was a real pain to see him with Grace and even Ali. As someone said earlier, perhaps Vincent Wong or Ruco would have much more suitable.

  14. They could have given it a better ending with 2 more episodes. Can’t imagine it would cost I’m much with the sets and costumes already in Place.

  15. all i can say is this drama didn’t live up to its hype, mediocre series with a rushed ending. would not watch it a second time that’s for sure. nuff said….

  16. You hit the nail on the head on each character analysis and their performance. Except I disagree re: Power Chan not adding much to the plot. He and Nancy Wu were the only ones that kept me watching. Also, I never get tired of Wayne’s acting but I am constantly disappointed with all the characters (since No Regrets), and the love story with his female partners. Although I think he and Maggie Siu make a good looking couple, I was completely uninterested with their story. Such a shame. I also didn’t care for Edwin’s character and whatever her name is either.

    Overall, I was most disappointed with Susanna Kwan’s character. She was completely useless and incompetent in this drama. I can’t believe a mistress could step all over her (and yet, she was capable of hiring someone to break her step-son’s leg??). And I don’t think Elliot Ngok ever found out about his mistress’ affair with the employee. I was waiting for the revealing of Ivy’s daughter’s biological father – I thought it would be the other guy’s – but that never happened.

    Grace Chan acted fairly well given this was her 1st performance. She is just as good as Linda Chung now. But gosh, Grace looks like a little kid standing next to Raymond Wong. Her body looks like it belongs to a 15yo. Slim is attractive to me – but I don’t consider Grace’s body slim but rather, child-like. And with such a large long face, her body is just out of proportion, under-developed and awkward. I would ban TVB if they ever put Grace in a cop role, or any authoritative position. She will always look like somebody’s little sister or a college kid.

    Overachievers was good enough to pass time for me…. especially since I have no desire to watch Line Walker or any other current drama.

  17. I am actually most bothered with Fred Cheng’s portrayal of autism. He looks more like a mental retard who can sing well. If you all remember Bosco’s character in Dicey Business, well that is Autism!
    And does this drama trying to side with rapist and abuser? And if a rapist/abuser was killed by the victim in defense, the victim is a vicious murderer? Two cases there, Grace and Raymond’s story. Such blasphemy.

    1. Autism has a wide spectrum. So, it’s hard to say what is the correct behavior for Autism.

      As for Bosco’s character. I don’t know if we can considered him having autism. His mental close-up is not biological, but, due to childhood experience.

      1. I’ve watched a few movies with autism character and also books about them. They are very different from mentally challenged. Their behavior are odd and weird but I wont say retard. And mostly has problem with expressing themselves emotionally and also understand other ppl’s emotion, empathy or sympathy.
        Fred is more like a retard to me, honestly.
        And he laughs and was playful, and able to cheer up other ppl, something an autistic person will not show.
        Director and scriptwriter fault I would say.

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