Episodic Thoughts: “Bullet Brain” (Episode 1)
Bullet Brain <神探高倫布>
TVB Series 2013
Cast: Wayne Lai, Edwin Siu, Natalie Tong, Ngo Ka Nin, Sire Ma, Joe Junior, Corinna Chamberlain, Brian Burrell, Lau Dan, and Davily Leung.
Disclaimer: This is a watch as I write episodic thoughts and some information may not be accurate since this is memory based. Certain dialogue is reproduced with some creative license adopted. I apologize if there is any mistake. All opinion remains my own.
“I am Columbo, I am the best detective, why would I want to be an idiot simpleton again?! ”
Frankly.. seriously.. admittedly .. I am not impressed with Episode 1. I feel it is too set up, too much forced coincidences or rather too much forced intelligence like one guy thought of everything and showed us how and we are suppose to go “Yeah, he thought of everything”. For a series set in 1960, it failed to evoke a 1960s feel. It just feels too modern. Perhaps the dialogue is too modern, perhaps that van looks way too modern, perhaps the surroundings feel too modern, maybe not enough of hair gel, this is certainly not at the same level like Old Time Buddy. The production just felt out of place. But let me summarise the plot a little before I proceed any further and mind you, not much happened in Episode 1. The number 1 rule of any TVB series “Never judge the series by its first episode”, because if not I am afraid you might be tempted to switch off the TV.
We start with an introduction of a super cop or a super detective called Detective Columbo, real name is Ko Dai Hei but now known was Ko Lum Bo or something like that. He is said to have IQ over 280 and was the fastest rising star in the HK police force for his ability to solve 99% of the cases he handled. And mind you, 99% is really quite a record, but you kinda wonder, what was that 1% he failed to solve? That would be an interesting story, that 1% story. Anyway we are shown his brain got something to do with his super intelligence and he was some kind of a local hero to the locals.
And then we see a gwailo kidnapped by a bunch of bumbling kidnappers. I find it hard to believe this is 1960s, but the car looked 1960s although something wasn’t right. As they blindfolded the driver into the trunk of the old merc, the gwailo was bundled into another car with 3 other kidnappers and they drove and drove and drove, and they kept seeing signs like STOP and DIVERSION and they were given a runaround by the strangely placed signboards until they suddenly stopped when they realised they have been going round and round and they saw before them I believe a mortuary or a cemetery or something eerie in broad day light. They stopped suddenly because unknown to them, the car was leaking petrol (by an act of sabotage) but they thought the car just ran out of gas. So they needed another getaway car and the only one available was a hearse. So they bundled the guy into a hearse. Here I am a bit blur as to what happened in sequence. Anyway I believe again they drove I believe and saw faraway one girl and so they stopped to ask for direction or something. One guy went off to the girl with her back facing them and she tried to move away when suddenly we see her pulling her gun and pointing into the mouth of the kidnapper who approached her and we are introduced to a rather pretty looking Pierre Ngo, here as Sargent Pao Ping On. Warned not to make a sound, the 2nd kidnapper alighted the car and was suddenly shot in the stomach. He didn’t die and Ping On grumbled “Isn’t that sniper supposed to be a sharp shooter? Can’t even shoot right and missed…” and the third guy was in the car and suddenly the coffin at the back of the hearse exploded and spooked, the guy ran.
To cut the long story short, he ran into the jungle with the gwailo. Meanwhile we see Detective Columbo analysing the situation from a camp and he was in his best shiny suit, popping open champagne and ready to eat roasted duck when he screamed for his policewoman assistant to come in who did rushed in and he gave her a massive scolding for trying to cheat him into thinking the duck he was eating was bought from the store he wanted her to buy. She was very scared of him but he basically threw the duck onto the floor, threw things at her and shouted “YOU THINK YOU CAN LIE TO ME? DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM? I! AM! DETECTIVE! COLUMBO! NO ONE CAN EVER LIE TO DETECTIVE COLUMBO! I WILL ALWAYS KNOW!!!!” and poor girl was kicked out of the tent but he stopped her and said “On second thought, pick up the duck and save it for later”. He suddenly thought of the kidnapper who escaped and so began his pursuit and he knew exactly where the guy will run to.
And indeed the kidnapper with the gwailo were surrounded by cops, one of whom was Columbo and the other the solemn Ping On when kidnapper grabbed the gwailo and said “Come any closer and I will kill him” and kidnapper knew he was the famous Columbo. Columbo arrogantly said “Don’t you know who I am? Why are you lying to me? Don’t lie! I counted and I know how many bullets you have left. Exactly 1 bullet. So make your choice… Shoot the victim and I will shoot you. Shoot me and rest assured you still will be arrested. You have nowhere to run!” but the guy didn’t believe Columbo and to show how indifferent he felt, Columbo shot the gwailo in the leg and spooked, kidnapper ran and again Columbo was cool about it, because he KNEW the kidnapper will run towards that direction.
In the forest, kidnapper ran into a trap and was pulled up and imprisoned by a net and Columbo walked to him. Kidnapper still had the gun in his hands and here Columbo gave his long speech of supreme arrogance, how kidnapper can never escape from the great Columbo, might as well just give up, and go to prison. Frankly at that point I was hoping the kidnapper with 1 bullet left to feel so annoyed and just shoot Columbo point blank. Now that would be end of story. So he didn’t, he surrendered (how disappointing!). Columbo walked to the injured gwailo who cursed at him and was berating him angrily when Columbo said to the 2 juniors there “Stuff that cloth back into his mouth and do not remove it until the ambulance is here” and reluctantly the 2 juniors did it. Rather funny scene.
Ping On rushed to Columbo and confronted him on his harsh tactics and they were almost arguing when Columbo said “Look, there are press here. Do your job, clean up this place as I entertain the press” and he smiled to the press hiding behind the bushes and said loudly “It is safe to come out now! I am ready for my interview!” and the rushed out and happily he took questions and pictures as Ping On looked on disgusted. By the way the gwailo was a very rich man hence the kidnapping.
Back in the police room, he entertained more question and showed the reporters how he knew what would happen and in a overlong repetition of what we saw earlier, but this time from the police of the perspective, he told the reporters how he knew (he had information and he bugged them with the latest technology from Scotland Yard) and went on to elaborate such a long repetition that I was falling asleep. But interestingly, we see Columbo PLANNING the whole thing but it was Ping On who ACTUALLY DID the leg work by planting the bug, sabotaging the oil tank, pretending to be some girl walking alone, etc in various disguises. And guess what? Columbo referred to Ping On as “help by a subordinate” and did not care to mention his name. Ping On heard everything and walked away sulkily and Columbo didn’t care. Meanwhile he treated the reporters to that duck he threw onto the floor.
Needless to say just half an hour Detective Columbo is clearly established as a first class egoistical arrogant ungrateful douche bag.
2 Indian police chatting in Indian in the toilet and Columbo walked out and they looked scared and Columbo basically scolded them for talking behind their back and yes, he knew Indian!!!
Chief of the station, I believe is Ma Wai Lei was angry with Columbo. He scolded “Why I wasn’t informed of this news? Why I wasn’t informed of the stake out? Why I wasn’t even informed about the entire secret operation?” and Columbo coolly said “If you were informed, then it wouldn’t have been a secret operation” and chief angrily said “Don’t get smart ass with me! I can still report you for insubordination! I will in fact call the Police Commissioner Kam (I think that’s his rank) and I will get you cited for this!” and Columbo said “You are the one who speak disrespectfully to me first. I did my job and I did it well and I have my colleagues to back me up” and chief laughed as he said “Colleagues? You don’t even have a friend! You probably only have one friend left and that is Pao Ping On! You have no one!” but Columbo just smirked as chief was about to make the call Columbo said “Please, do try. But I just received a call from the Police Commissioner who was very impressed with the outcome and just given me a new medal and a new rank. I am forthwith to be known as …” .. I can’t remember the rank, but I believe it was assistant chief inspector, which is really big and that shut his immediate boss up. Columbo smirked and walked away.
Ping On went into Columbo’s room and slammed the door and without looking up, Columbo said “Ping On” and Ping On said “How did you know it was me?” and Columbo said “Because you didn’t salute me” and Ping On said “How did you know I didn’t since you weren’t looking?” and Columbo said “Because you are the only one who dare to come into my room and slam the door and since you can slam the door, I doubt you will salute me”. Ping On said “As a friend to a friend, listen to me! You must tone this down. Your attitude won’t get you anyway. If you get it fixed, you will the old you!” but Columbo angrily said “I know why you slammed the door, because you are jealous. I have joined the force not too long ago and look at me? Already at this high position (I believe assistant chief inspector? Not sure what’s the rank but 2nd to the chief of the station)whilst you, all your training at Scotland Yard and successes is still just a sargent”. Ping On angrily said “Yes sir, if it pleases you SIR” and he left angrily. But again he mentioned about a medical procedure to which Columbo said “CANCEL IT! I ALREADY SAID CANCEL IT!”.
Perhaps a surgery to remove the bullet in his brain.
Ping On went to a temple and before Buddha he prayed “Please let Ko Dai Hei return. Please bless him and let him be well”.
At home, Ping On solemnly walked in and there was Columbo, smirking again. You may wonder, are they living together? Answer is at 3…2….1…
“I bought your favourite roast duck. I remember you took me to that restaurant where I had my most delicious and first roasted duck. It was expensive and an experience that I owe to you” and Ping On looked at him and said “What’s with the duck? What do you want?” and Columbo began to look at Ping On steadily and said “Ping On, why do you pretend not to care about me? You obviously do care deeply for me. Look at the statues you brought home? The Buddha, the Kuan Yin, the Virgin Mary, the Cross, of all religion. I bet you were at the temple today, praying for me. Why pretend? When I asked you to live with me, you never hesitated. Admit it old friend, you do care…” and Ping On said “I do care, but I care about Ko Dai Hei, not this Columbo” and Columbo said “But I AM Ko Dai Hei, Ko Dai Hei is Columbo” and Ping On said “I beg to differ” and Columbo took one of the photo albums and said “Has it been 3 years? But I still look the same, I am still me” and Ping On grabbed the album and said “That’s mine! And you’re not the same anymore. If you just have the procedure, you can be the Ko Dai Hei again” and Columbo said “But I don’t want to have the procedure. Stop asking me to have any procedure. I am me..” and Ping On knew he lost the argument and he said angrily “Sir, may I be excused?” and Columbo shrugged and Ping On walked angrily into his room, with his album in his hands. In his room alone, Ping On smoked quietly. Wait… was he smoking? I think he was…
Ceremony day, everyone looked solemn as a smug looking Columbo got the award from Police Commissioner Kam when suddenly his head hurt so much he fell to the floor and everyone asked “Ko Sir, are you ok?” and I swear Ping On smiled a little (not out of malice but because he may think this time Columbo will agree to a surgery) when Columbo in agony looked at Ping On and said “Ping On, get me out of here! Take me to the hospital! I will do the operation!” and without hesitation Ping On basically piggy backed Columbo all the way and no cars despite being a busy street and they fell and as he heard Columbo begged “Ping On, take me to the hospital, please…”, he grabbed a cart and wheeled Columbo who was still in agony and they fell down the stairs and Ping On grabbed Columbo with concern when suddenly the pain stopped and Columbo, sweating profusely stood up straight and stared straight at Ping On and shouted “I do not want the surgery! I already said CANCEL IT! CANCEL IT!!” and Ping On said “I know that’s not the real you speaking. I heard the real you. You want the surgery!” and Columbo shouted “Why would anyone want to go from smart to dumb again? I will never go back to who I was! I am Columbo, I am the best detective, why would I want to be an idiot simpleton again?!” and Ping On knew the fight was lost for this time and he said quietly “You have an image to uphold, so hold that temper of yours in case the public should see you like this. You don’t want bad press right?” and Columbo realised he was in public as Ping On said “I better return this cart, I wouldn’t want to be accused of stealing” and as he walked to the cart, you can see his arm is hurt but he didn’t quite care and then he saw the public surrounding Columbo who entertained the adulation whilst Ping On, disappointed walked away.
And then blast to the past and we see someone running in the forest and it was a dirty looking Columbo and then much later, we see Ping On in goggles and he was a science enthusiast doing experiment. He was the boss of that dept then, all same people when one walked in and announced there was a dirty beggar out there looking for him. He walked out and he was Ko Dai Hei, dirty, smelly, timid looking and Ko Dai Hei timidly asked “Are you Comrade Pao Ping On?” and he said yes and Dai Hei said “I can’t thank you enough for helping me to gain access to HK so that I may see my father for the last time”.
I think his father died already, see as in saying goodbye and arranging the funeral. Dai Hei’s father was a cop too and he is not related to Ping On but I suppose the station is small and everyone knew everyone. Or they came from the same village.
Dai Hei was so touched by Ping On’s help, he wanted to kneel down to thank him and Ping On stopped him and became quite friendly with Dai Hei. He took Dai Hei to change clothes, took him to his first roasted duck meal, even introduced him to a GRO sort of girl who proceeded to cup Dai Hei’s errrr…. ermmmm… balls I suppose you can say that. Very innocent scene. Just suggested, didn’t actually see cupping and all. But what a shocker. Dai Hei aka Columbo looking so timid, so not confident and Ping On looking like the wise guy. Anyway Dai Hei was so timid he had to hold Ping On’s hands when walking and Ping On warned him “This is not China! This is HK! You can’t just grab my hand. What will people think, 2 men holding hands!”
But Dai Hei held Ping On’s hands when Ping On took him to see the Police Commissioner and upon seeing the Police Commissioner Kam who said “You are (***)’s son? I am very sorry for your loss…” and he did look regretful so many Dai Hei’s father was well liked and suddenly Dai Hei dropped to the floor to kow tow the stunned Commissioner and Ping On…
What happens next? Will have to wait for next episode!
Seriously, this is an interesting series. The performances are so far top notch.
Pierre Ngo fit his role like a glove but I am bothered by the age difference with Wayne. Are they supposed to be near each other in age? I can see Wayne putting tons of make up on his face so he does look younger but still, the age gap is obvious when Wayne looked so tired. I love seeing Pierre in disguise and he did those scenes well.
As for Wayne, what more can I say? 15 minutes in and I hated his Columbo. Towards the end when I saw the timid him, immediately I wanted to know what changed him to Columbo? Columbo is this Jekyl and Hyde personality and no one liked him but Ping On does so that made me wonder, why Ping On liked him so much? I did remember Columbo mentioned something about Ping On having a wife or something. Didn’t catch that. Anyway I am sure we will find out soon enough. However much I am confused by the 1st episode or remains unconvinced by its 60s depiction or the overlong first case analysis or the rather modern dialogue, I can’t deny, Wayne Lai is supreme in here as the supremely annoying, arrogant, egoistical and jerk of the century, Columbo. But yet Ping On still helped him and so it is intriguing to find out perhaps Columbo’s past life as Dai Hei was such a great guy, Ping On felt a sense a loyalty to even this bastard Columbo. By the way love Wayne’s hair in here.
I have to add a bit about the odd relationship between Ping On and Columbo. Sometimes I felt like I was watching 2 lovers quarreling, with Columbo being the chauvinistic husband and Ping On as the wife’s whose patience is snapping. It felt like.. at least one of them is in love with the other. It feels sorta weird when the dialogue can be what I call unisex, meaning it can be for a guy-guy-brother relationship or guy-guy-gay relationship. It almost felt like a caress, especially that scene where Ping On and Columbo again sorta argued and yet not arguing when at home. I know that’s not the intention, but you know it gave me that sort of vibe.
About other performances, so far no one else worth mentioning. I am afraid when Natalie appears, her age gap with Wayne is even more obvious. I do feel perhaps Wayne is just too old for this role. But he is such a great actor, I will just look past the age gap but will I cringe when he does kissy-kissy and huggy-huggy with Natalie or any other girls who are probably at least 15 years his junior?
Anyway so far as 1st episode goes, first half not very impressive but 2nd half gives it some momentum. Hopefully the story gets more consistent and better and maybe will tell me for sure, is this a comedy or a drama or a dramedy? Because looking at the poster and the contents of the 1st episode. I am not very sure.
This Episodic Thoughts was written by Funn Lim, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com, and was originally posted at http://p2e-bulletbrain.blogspot.com.