“Al Cappuccino” is a Drama Full of Sincerity

TVB black comedy, Al Cappuccino <反黑路人甲>, received good reviews after its initial week of broadcast. Suspenseful but also light-hearted, the tempo of the drama is just right and makes viewers anticipate the next episode. Even though the drama centers around undercover cops, there are enough unconventional surprises and twists which make Al Cappuccino a contender for TVB’s best drama in 2020 so far.

Following the story of how actor Cheung Sai Lun (Vincent Wong 王浩信) is recruited as a police informant to infiltrate the triad, he meets undercover cop Gao Bun (Owen Cheung 張振朗). The duo’s comedic timing is perfect, giving nuanced performances that are supported by a strong veteran cast consisting of Henry Lee (李成昌), David Chiang (姜大衛), Chun Wong (秦煌), KK Cheung (張國強), and Shek Sau (石修).

The sincerity of the drama’s production can clearly be seen through its attention to small details. Adding a nostalgic tribute, lines from classic television series and movies are often wittingly incorporated in the script. The cinematography style is similar to a movie, and utilizes sound effects and music to maximize on the comedic element.

TVB dramas often have interesting premises and start off on promising notes, but fail to sustain momentum in their plot and lose viewer interest along the way. A common shortcoming is the story starts losing its focus midway when it branches into different tangents, and spends too much time on relationship scenes.

While Al Cappuccino also has relationship arcs, the scenes are kept short and humorous despite its large female cast consisting of seven actresses: Kathy Yuen (湯怡), Samantha Ko (高海寧), Crystal Fung (馮盈盈), Angel Chiang (蔣家旻), Winki Lai (賴慰玲), Kelly Fu (傅嘉莉), and Serene Lim (林宣妤). For example, in the morning-after scene when Vincent and Kathy Yuen (湯怡) wake up from their night of passion, drool marks can be seen on Vincent’s pillow.

The third episode may have been the weakest so far because of Vincent’s background story and the introduction of the triad’s organization structure.  Even though this segment of the story is needed, the process seemed a little drawn out and too much time was spent on the internal workings of the branches of the triads.  Once Vincent officially joins the triad, this will no longer be a problem as the story arcs converge and the following episodes revolve around his climb to higher ranks.

Al Cappuccino is a production full of sincerity and a breath of fresh air similar to the recently concluded Death by Zero <殺手>, but will it be able to keep up its momentum? As only one-fifth of the 30-episode drama has aired, it is still too soon to tell whether TVB will fall back into its old habits, but hopefully it will continue to entertain after a promising start.

Source: HK01

This article is written by Kiki for JayneStars.com.

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  1. “TVB dramas often have interesting premises and start off on promising notes,”, mao how did they write this with a straight face? And large female cast, again lol, the majority of listed actress are unknown names and I used the term “actress” very lightly for the most of them. But I love the self praising by the shameless TVB.

    1. @seriously haha I think the promising note part is what they claim themselves, and it mostly goes downhill from there. The only actresses worth watching is Winki and maybe KoLing. It’s funny they claim in every Scoop interview how popular their dramas are.
      Sidenote please tell me Serene Lim left acting for good because she seems super awkward playing her character and doesn’t look pretty on screen.

  2. Couldn’t care less about the female actresses. I’m here for Owen Vincent jack and winki

    1. What does everything think so far about the series? I love love Vincent and think he’s a great actor but I’m afraid Owen is outshining him so far

      1. @tt23 same thoughts as you. Vincent’s character is pretty annoying when he isn’t acting as the triad leader, and when he is he’s not particularly appealing. I still don’t really know what to make of the storyline. The characters are introduced and set up but it’s hard to get what their purpose is in the story, especially for the female characters. Maybe also because of the editing the story just seems to jump all over the place.
        Obligatory FYY is ruining every scene she’s in. Angel, Winki, Jack are definitely getting my attention though.

  3. Can someone please tell me how the bespectacled lady fare? Someone wrote in TVB forum that TVB should invest in her to replace Ali.

    I’m like, Ali is not replaceable!

    1. @conan2209 She’s Kathy Yuen, used to date Ken Hung. She’s a refreshing actress given that tvb hasn’t had a new actress who is not annoying in a while. I don’t even think she’s contracted to tvb? She’s a film actress iirc. But her role is kinda one dimensional right now. Timid and gets bullied so, not much happening.

    2. @conan2209 there’s no way she can replace ali. I don’t find anything appealing about her so far. Even in interviews, super quiet and timid. No personality.

      But it could also be because it’s her first real drama? That’s what I heard. But anyways Ali is too talented to be replaced. If TVB doesn’t see it, that is a shame.

      1. @tt23 considering the fact Ali is the only actress I like in the past decade, she can never be replaced!

        I just finished her book, she is rather open about herself in the book. I honestly don’t think she can survive well in a company where everyone is political. I hope her want to do well in what she loves will bring her to greater heights, be it TVB, movies or in plays.

      2. @conan2209 it’s pretty obvious at tvb you better not take a political stance or else you will either leave by yourself or tvb will cancel you. TVB still is the way to max audience exposure which brings in the $$.

      3. @bubbles23 oh, when said everyone being political, i meant people knowing when to say the right thing (with the right words) at the right time and to the right person.

        With regards to political stance, it is never a good topic to discuss (just like religion)

        After reading Ali’s book that gave a little insight into her as a person, i believe she never thought a simple post (with nothing spoken about her stance) will bring her problems of such magnitude.
        She did not think thru and did not realise the influnce she may have on the public.

        If she does not bounce back, i guess God has other plans for her.

    3. @conan2209 Funny, I thought Ali would have been awesome in Kathy’s role. The character is interesting, but I think Kathy is a bit stiff, where Ali would add more sass and life to her.

  4. I looked up Serene Lim since I’m not familiar with her work. According to sources, she left TVB when her contracted end, which also coincidently marked her the 3rd Malaysian artiste to leave TVB in May 2020. In Al Cappuccino, she portrays the youngest sister of a triad family. She’s innocent and brave in her own right.
    This drama gives me Chow Sing Chi 周星馳’s comedic vibes. His pace, facial and body expressions, and delivery makes sense. In AC, Vincent’s role is more complexed than Owen’s character. VW constantly have to play Cheung Sai-lun (張細倫) and Chiang Sai-lung (蔣世龍) simultaneously. When 張細倫 is preparing a self-inflicted scene as 蔣世龍 in the surveillance cop van, his delivery was pretty funny.

    1. @ihearttvb I’m enjoying the chemistry between Vincent and Owen. Vincent’s ability to improvise when things don’t go as planned and so he uses his “eyes” to telepathically inform Owen but instead, we get to hear what Owen is actually thinking, the scolding, that’s funny.

  5. The pace is very slow and it gets annoying. Finally, after 6 episodes, Vincent is with the triad. His character in “actor” mode is too earnest, gullible, and a bit irritating. He is much more interesting as triad leader. Owen is more fun and is really the highlight of this series so far. His facial expressions with Vincent are very amusing. I wish they gave Jack more to do.

    Winki is good. Samantha plays her role well enough. I am interested in Kathy’s character but not convinced by her acting yet. She’s a bit stiff but I do see charm. The reveal scene of how she and Vincent first met was cute but then it went on a touch too long. Crystal is awful. Serene is also bland. Kelly is just ok.

    1. @potatochip I agree about pace but I just finished episode 9 and I think it’s starting to pick up (finally). I think Vincent’s acting in this one is finally what I expect from him.

      Owen and winki I am just a HUGE fan of. Their interactions are so genuine and natural. I think both of them are performing very well in the series

      1. @tt23 Those two, plus Angel and Tsui Wing are literally why I still watch this series. So much spark between Owen and Winki like they actually knew each other for years and trying to hide their feelings.

      2. @bubbles23 After watching 804 episodes of Love Come Home, it’s embedded in my mind that Angel is the niece of Tsui Wing. Now watching them play lovers, I just can’t…. haha.

        Owen is very lucky to land this role. His character is very versatile, mixing in seriousness with comedy.

      3. @ihearttvb I think Come Home Love has been long enough that they are believable. Plus Angel has a totally different aura and she looks smokin’ in the show. I feel Owen’s more fleshed out than Vincent here, he definitely has what it takes to become tv king in the future.

      4. @bubbles23 In one particular scene, “Rocky” locks himself in the bathroom, did you notice that Angel’s hair look different in each jump cut? From one angle, her hair is swept to one side and from a different angle, possibly a re-take, her hair sits in front of her shoulders?
        In the same scene, she pours a bottle of liquids (wine or champagne) down her dress in hopes to seduce Owen. I still want to believe she strategically chose that dress to cover her figure. She knew that the camera would be focused on her chest area and so she wore a dress with ruffles from shoulder to shoulder. I still want to believe 馬子妮’s essence still exists otherwise she would have picked a dress from Jenny (Max’s wife in Lo and Behold) closet then that would be a different story. I hope to see an interviewer ask her about this scene.

  6. Really hope that Vincent not being the actual 3rd brother is a misdirection. It would be much more intriguing if he is in fact the actual 3rd brother, but not revealing his true identity to the cops.

      1. @ihearttvb I feel like Jack’s character may have done something behind the scenes? I also feel like Jack might be a mole planted by the triads to play into the parody-trope of the drama overall (Infernal Affairs).

      2. @scarlett013 I agree, Al Cappucino writers would want to sprinkle in a bit of Infernal Affairs for the sake of plot twists. We know that Jack didn’t want to blow his chances of joining the police force so he ended his relationship with Kelly, the daughter of a triad leader. Fast forward, like Infernal Affairs, Jack is now a high-ranking official, the Chief Superintendent of the Police Force. Here’s the peculiar part, if he is a mole planted by triads, which triad? who is the big boss? why did he help the Chiangs reclaim the title by stealing the dragon staff (龍頭棒) replica?

  7. I’m also lost with this drama. Just don’t get it. So boring especially with that girl Crystal Fung

  8. Thoroughly enjoying this so far so I hope the plot doesn’t start to drag in the middle. Also hope they don’t mess up the ending!

    I agree that Owen is outshining Vincent here and I realize how much I like Owen as an actor. I find him versatile and he has great comedic timing. His chemistry with all his costars has also really good so far. He and Vincent have been a duo I’ve adored since Legal Mavericks but I am enjoying the scenes with him and Winki equally as much. I also feel like he has more chemistry with Kathy Yuen than Vincent currently does.

    Regarding all the lady leads, I’ve been noticing a lot of people refer to them all as “nobodies”/unknown which I think is unfair. Kathy Yuen has been a film actress for over a decade. Samantha Ko, although I am not a fan of, has also been acting for quite some time. FYY and Serene also placed in their respective pageant performances and Winki, who is my favorite among the female cast so far has done well in almost all of her TVB appearances so far (except Airport Strikers but no actress could redeem such a terribly written character).

    That said though, I do think that some of the actresses are doing better than others. Never really enjoyed Samantha in her roles but I think she’s doing very well here. On the flip side, Serene could be doing better but I think it’s more so do to her voice/accent rather than the actual acting. The delivery of her dialogue makes her a bit awkward to watch.

    Also, minor but it’s John Chiang is 姜大衛’s name – not David Chiang 🙂

    1. @scarlett013 I do take back some comment from earlier in this thread about the female leads because Samantha is growing on me in this series and I think out of her three recent dramas, this is her best role. Kathy is okay and but I don’t think she adds anything to the show. And I’m sorry, I just don’t think anything Crystal does will make me like her, I personally find her very annoying and disingenuous.

      I think people look at the caliber of the male leads and what is a storyline with lots of potential so they want to see the female leads be able to match that caliber. Although to be fair, not many female artistes these days have that caliber. Crystal should definitely not be the first lead, it should be Samantha or Winki. I think both of them have had more air time than Crystal so far.

      Owen keeps surprising me every episode – I am so happy for him and hope he gets recognized. His chemistry with Vincent and Winki is incredible in this series. The scene from last episode of him and Winki in the bathroom after he got beat up was so heartwarming. Normally I find TVB makes those scenes soooo cheesy but this was super natural. Vincent is starting to shine through, I think yesterday was his best episode yet but the star here so far is really Owen

  9. I am curious, how come the drama title resemblance an American actor’s name, Al Pacino (Al Cappaccino), Barrack Obama (Barrack O’karma), what’s next … Donald Dump (Donald Trump)? Or it’s just Chinese pronunciation/translation. Obviously, I am not Chinese, that’s why I had to ask, and I hope someone will enlighten me. Thanks

    1. @winnie I think it’s a play on words for Al Capone the gangster plus Al Pacino the actor since that’s basically the theme for the drama, acting as a gangster. Barrack Okarma… Lol probably just another play on words.

  10. I thought Kathy Chinese last name supposed pronounced Tong? How is it supposed be Yuen? I’m confused.

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