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.
“Look at his (Ko Dai Hei) report card. Physical? ZERO! Writing? ZERO! Practical? ZERO! Everything? ZERO!! ”
Before I start to recap this episode, I just want to point out my comments in Episode 1 about how set up the entire first 20 minutes can really be summed up with 1 word; contrived. I just couldn’t remember that word when I was writing whatever I was writing. Luckily in Episode 2, the contrived plot thingy is sorta less contrived. But I still have issues with the whole imagery of the series. More on that later.
In this episode we are told why oh why there is no gay love between Ping On and Columbo but just very very sincere friendship, even if it is from Ping On (constantly looking pained and bothered) to Columbo (always smug, angry, smug, egoistical, smug – did I say smug? Yes, smuggest of the smugs).
Still in the past, like 3 years ago.
Columbo, then still Dai Hei, fell to his knees to thank the police commissioner.
Translation says in Malay “Setiausaha Keselamatan” which literally is Secretary of Security. I have no idea what that means so I just continue with Police Commissioner because he looks to be in that sort of position.
Ping On immediately dragged Dai Hei up and said quietly “You don’t need to keep kneeling” and Dai Hei in tears said “I am so thankful to you sir for helping me to come to HK to pay my last respect to my father…” and the Commissioner said “It is the least I can do. Uncle Ngau spoke of you often and looking at you is like looking at him. You both looked so alike. Did your father ever told you how we met? He was the guy who collected the bodies and bury them…”
Not mortician per se but rather in Chinese “Jap si” meaning quite literally collect dead bodies.
Dai Hei said “Yes, I am also doing this work now…” as the Commissioner continued… “You know, my real name is Louis Kam and I was a prisoner of war in the concentration camp during the Japanese invasion… your father was the kindest man I have ever met. He collected bodies at his own personal risk and gave them proper burial. He often smuggled in cigarettes for me. I appreciated his kind gesture and his friendship. When the war ended, he continued his job but came to a point he was too weak and old to carry bodies anymore. So I offered him a job as a janitor (NOT washing toilets but Janitor in a broad sense) so that he may live the rest of his life comfortably. We all liked him, and when he died … I am very sorry for your loss” and Dai Hei said “I thank you sir, for giving me a chance to say a final goodbye. Thank you…” and again he tried to kneel but Ping On rushed to pick him up.
At the morgue, Dai Hei was left alone with his father (played by Wayne) as Ping On walked out to give them some privacy. Ping On was impressed with Dai Hei’s filial peity and a bit touched as well even if he thought Dai Hei was some sort of a naive fool. Dai Hei cried and played the golden trumpet. Not much later, someone ran out and told Ping On “Sir! He ran away… with the body!!” and Ping On was like “WHAT?! WHY DID HE DO THAT?!” and rushed out to find Dai Hei and the corpse.
Dai Hei was making a scene and Ping On arrived and it was Dai Hei kneeling before the train station master and his father’s corpse sitting on the bench (yes I know, died a few days, how can the body be so flexible but just … just ignore that…) and Ping On cried “Dai Hei! Are you crazy? What the hell are you doing?! Don’t be so stupid!” and Dai Hei cried as he was kneeling “Sir, sir… please let me bring my father home to be buried. He already died on foreign soil, he wouldn’t have wanted that, he would have wanted to be buried at home.. with his family… please sir, I beg you, please sir!!” and Ping On and friends were very touched by what they’ve seen and all were quiet.
Next scene, we see the father already buried, Commissioner Kam was there with Ping On in civilian clothings (Pierre Ngo looking quite spiffy in a tight red shirt! Yes I think it was red…) and Commissioner said “I am sorry he can’t be buried back at home but the least I can do is to let him be buried here, in this peaceful beautiful surroundings” and Ping On again almost crying said “Thank you sir.. thank you..” and he again tried to kneel but Ping On stopped him and said “You don’t have to keep kneeling … that is not necessary” and Commissioner Kam had a flashback when he first met Uncle Ngau…
We see Dai Hei’s father played by Wayne and how he and the Commissioner became friends when Uncle Ngau buried Commissioner Kam’s I believe superior after he died and how Uncle Ngau played the small trumpet used in Chinese funeral but he played the tune of England’s national anthem and Commissioner Kam was very touched by the small gesture and they became friends for life.
At present (meaning, this is Ping On’s flashback, remember? So we are still in flashback level 1, Kam’s flashback was level 2, sorta like inception isn’t it?), Kam told Dai Hei “He is now buried here with you here to stay and pay respect to him” he instructed Ping On to help Dai Hei with the Identity Card issue and Dai Hei said “But I am so stupid, I don’t know how to do anything, what can I do here?” and Ping On looked on as Kam assessed Dai Hei and said “Well, you can become a policeman since we need more honest folks like you!” and Ping On’s eyes nearly bugged out.
And so it was decided Dai Hei will be a cop but he needed to join the academy first, and guess who ran the academy? Columbo’s immediate superior, Ma Wai Lei!
Ping On was told to see Ma Wai Lei who immediately launched into a tirade “I don’t care this Ko Dai Hei is sent here by the Commissioner. I know you’re on very friendly terms with the Commissioner since you came back from your special training at Scotland Yard. So I am sure you can tell him what I am going to tell you. Ko Dai Hei is an absolute imbecile! An idiot! A stupid man un-befitting the police badge! Look at his report card. Physical? ZERO! Writing? ZERO! Practical? ZERO! Everything? ZERO!!” and Ping On was laughing slightly at the whole situation and Ma Wai Lei shouted “You think this is funny? The Commissioner sent me a total idiot! No way I will ever pass that idiot! In fact all the tutors have complained about how stupid he is!! No way! NO WAY!!” and Ping On said “Sir, may I see Ko Dai Hei?” and Ma Wai Lei said “Sure! Go and see how stupid he is!”
and so Ping On went to see Dai Hei, he himself thought of Dai Hei as a joke but nonetheless a harmless one. He liked Dai Hei but he never respected Dai Hei. And there was Dai Hei, practising on the fields his left.. left… left right left.. marching and he managed to stumbled on his own two feet. Ma Wai Lei stood before him with Ping On and Dai Hei was happy to see Ping On and greeted him but of course he was scolded by his superior for breaching protocol and was made to march and he didn’t understand English and Ma Wai Lei said “I said, start to run!” and Dai Hei immediately rushed off and ran and ran and ran and they both looked at him and to their exasperation, Dai Hei ran straight through the field, out the gates and beyond!
Ok, this may not be the not so original scene copied from Forest Gump. In fact Dai Hei is Forest Gump, in a way but you know, this was a funny scene, especially Ping On’s reaction.
Ping On was laughing his head off when Ma Wai Lei said “IDIOT! Isn’t he an idiot! Oh go fetch him back!” and Ping On ran after Dai Hei.
Later in the room with Ma Wai Lei, Ping On was with Dai Hei who was wet. Ping On asked “Why are you wet?” and Dai Hei said “Because sir told me to run, so I ran. I dared not stop, even when I was approaching a river, so I ran into the river until I was told to stop and come back, only then I dared to turn back…”
Yeah, stupid but with a lot of heart!
Ma Wai Lei was so exasperated, he told Dai Hei to leave the room and then told Ping On “Now you tell me, how can I ever pass that stupid idiot? You tell the Commissioner! You tell him, I will never pass him, NEVER!” and Ping On asked for some time to call the Commissioner. Later he came back in and he smiled and told Ma Wai Lei “Sir, I spoke with the commissioner and what I witnessed…” and Ma Wai Lei looking sorta smug as Ping On continued “.. and Commissioner Kam feels that Dai Hei may not pass on all those criteria but he passed full marks on dedication, honest, follows instruction well, steadfast loyalty and hardworking. And so…” and Ping On wrote 100% on the report card on all criteria “…Commissioner Kam is of the opinion Dai Hei passed on all accounts with flying colours” and Ma Wai Lei was like WTF?! and Ping On said “Commissioner says our police force needs more sincere honest cops like Ko Dai Hei” and Ping On left the room, smiling. I guess he never quite like Ma Wai Lei but I suppose he is beginning to like Dai Hei a lot.
How can anyone not like Dai Hei! He is cute! And true, he may be weak, etc but he is dedicated. He may be more suited for army life though.
And so Dai Hei became a cop and he was humble with all his colleagues (the same he will later arrogantly scream at when he became Columbo) and he calls Ping On as Brother Ping On. Everyone liked him. And suddenly an alert and Ping On were told his house/area was on fire. They rushed to that area and indeed, fire everywhere and Ping On panicked and screamed “My wife! My mother! They’re in the house! Save them!” and he tried to rush in but was held back by his colleagues and suddenly I think a pot or something fell onto his feel and he doubled over with pain and his leg was hurt but he was straining to rush into the blok of apartment. Dai Hei looked at Ping On and heard Ping On screaming for his mom and wife and…
Seriously, best scene(s) in this episode so don’t miss this! This explains why Ping On not only liked Dai Hei, but respected him when before he never took Dai Hei seriously.
… Dai Hei thought “I must save Ping On’s mom and Ping On’s wife” and blindly he rushed into the apartment and Ping On saw him rushed him and cried “No! Dai Hei! Don’t go, it is dangerous!!” and Dai Hei was inside shouting “Ping On’s mom! Ping On’s wife! Where are you?!” and an old man fell to the floor and choked “Save… me…” and Dai Hei looked at him and said “You’re not Ping On’s mom!” but he carried that man out anyway and Ping On was now in a wheelchair and panicking when he saw Dai Hei walking out and then rushing back in and fire getting more serious when on the balcony Dai Hei screamed “Ping On, I found your mother!!” and Ping On on a wheelchair cried “Mother! Dai Hei, be careful!” but there was no way down and in a moment to show Dai Hei was not stupid but was resourceful, he saw a rope and he tied the women with that rope and with his strength lowered her down carefully as the heat was getting unbearable behind him and all Ping On could see at that moment was how concentrated Dai Hei was in saving his mother with total disregard for his own safety and mom was saved and then Dai Hei shouted “Ping On’s wife!” and he rushed back in and Ping On was panicking big time as he screamed “Dai Hei, come back!! It is too dangerous!! Dai Hei!!” and suddenly I believe explosion and the firemen finally arrived and Ping On shocked to his core leapt from his chair and tried to rush in but he stumbled and the fireman said “Let us do our job!” and Ping On on the floor crying “You must save him! Dai Hei! You idiot! Why you rushed in? Why? I have led you to your death!! Dai Hei!!!” and his colleagues were holding him, panicking as well when suddenly a figured carrying another figure covered with blanket rushed out and fell to the floor and it was Dai Hei and Ping On rushed to him as Dai Hei weakly said “I can’t find Ping On’s wife. I found a gwaipo but not your wife” and Dai Hei fainted from exhaustion and a white blond haired woman emerged from the blanket and saw Ping On and cried “Honey! I thought.. I thought I can never see you again!” and Ping On hugged her too but at that moment he was preoccupied with Dai Hei.
WOW! Ping On married a gwaipo?! Very forward thinking sort of man! That scene was very touching, sorta funny but more touching than funny as Ping On looked at Dai Hei with conflicted emotion.
At the photo studio, Dai Hei now ok and there was Ping On, his mom and his white wife and they were arguing or rather bantering about Dai Hei to sit and Dai Hei insisting Ping On get a chair, etc. Ping On said “You saved my entire family Dai Hei! You sit down, we take a picture together” and finally Dai Hei reluctantly sat down as his mother and wife stood by the side smiling and Ping On signalled the photographer and suddenly Ping On kneel down and kow-towed Dai Hei as the photographer took the photos and Dai Hei shocked and stood up…
I love this final scene that sealed Ping On’s loyalty to Dai Hei. Now we all know why he was so patient with Columbo, why he wanted his best friend Dai Hei to come back because the Dai Hei he knew would never act like how Columbo did. I liked that how Dai Hei was the one who was always kneeling and all in all humbleness and finally it was Ping On who did that, kneeling in all humbleness before a man he once silently ridiculed and laughed at and even felt somewhat that Dai Hei inferior to him but in the end it was this simple inferior idiot who risked his own life to save his entire family. And in gratitude, Ping On gave Dai Hei his steadfast loyalty no matter what happens next. This to me a nice bit of storytelling and a big leap from the contrived episode 1.
And so we are back to the real present time as Ping On looked back at the photos of himself kneeling down that day and smiled, somewhat cynically as he smoked.
I don’t think I have seen smoking on screen for a very long time!
Ok, now back to present time, no more Dai Hei, we have Columbo! Columbo had an appointment with fellow doctors from Scotland invited by Commissioner Kam to re-assess him and they mistakenly referred him as some smaller rank when he reminded them he is now Assistant Inspector. Seriously, I can’t remember the exact title though.
They asked him math questions, etc which bored Columbo. When Columbo walked out, he saw Ping On looking serious and said arrogantly “Why are you here?” and Ping On said “Commissioner Kam insisted I accompany you” but Columbo dismissed him like he was worth nothing and said “Whatever the prognosis is, it is none of your business”. Ping On frowned but walked away.
In the room with the main doctor, the doctor said “You’re indeed a miracle. The bullet didn’t kill you but made you much smarter. The thing is there is no stopping of your growth in terms of your intelligence. There does not seem to be any indication it will ever stop. But the problem is the smarter you are in terms of the growth of your brain capacity, your emotional context for empathy becomes narrower. I hope to publish my studies on you since you’re the first of such kind but Commissioner Kam has made your file top secret”
and Columbo seemed undisturbed by that statement. What the doctor meant was the smarter he is, the more bastard he will become. Reckless perhaps but unconnected to his emotional self. In other terms he became totally and absolutely selfish as opposed to the selfless Dai Hei.
Columbo said “I know you have a prior arrangement with Ping On, that if there is a possibility you will remove the bullet. But let me be very clear. I do not want, in under any circumstances, for that bullet to be removed. Do you understand me?” and the doctor nodded, fascinated with Columbo as a test subject rather than a human being.
Outside Ping On waited for Columbo and Columbo sneered “You can stop now. I told the doctor I will never have the bullet removed, ever” and Ping On said “I know that’s not you speaking!” and Columbo said “Look, I am Ko Dai Hei. Accept that!” and Ping On said “No! You are not Ko Dai Hei I know! Do the surgery! You’re not this man. Do the surgery and stop with this… this act!” and angrily Columbo punched Ping On and said angrily “I said I will never do the surgery!!” and he left.
Shift to another scene, and in a huge airplane (TVB when are you ever gonna get the airplane narrow alley right!), Solar Airways (HA!HA!HA!HA!) and some gwailo creep was sexually harassing the air stewardess and one girl was watching and the creep tried to make a move on that girl who was pretending to sleep when he saw her police badge (sorta modern badge you know?) and she did some karate chops or whatever and arrested that man. In the airport terminal, she rushed out and she was… Sire Ma…looking different and rushed to Commissioner Kam and calling him.. I think she called him “Daddy”. Anyway she was his daughter, according to my list Yi Wah but I didn’t catch her name then. Kam looked at that gwailo and said “This is not your lucky day! My daughter is an Inspector just having returned from her training at Scotland Yard!” and that guy tried to make an escape and police got ready to help when Kam said “No need, she can handle it” and Yi Wah singlehandedly did some kung fu kick in her super short miniskirt and high heels and that man was again easily captured. Kam proudly said “I forgot to mention, my daughter was also first in wushu!”.
Wow, super cop! And inspector too. Wait! Columbo is Assistant Inspector and risen up the ranks in a year? 2 years? Yi Wah is Inspector, higher ranked! Ping On is Sargent! The lowest ranking amongst the 3.
At home, Kam told Yi Wah the story of Uncle Ngau and Dai Hei. He said “Without my help, he would never have graduated. Now… now I fear him. He solved 99% of his cases, the only case he didn’t solve was the one where his head was shot. He didn’t die but he became smarter, much much smarter. I don’t know what he is thinking, how he will react. He is getting too smart, too unpredictable. I want you to keep an eye on him for me” and Yi Wah agreed.
At the station, Yi Wah met with her dad and she was in uniform and she was given a subordinate, named Choi Fei Lung and Kam said “He is the best cadet there is. First in everything, and same interest as you, even fencing. His father was stationed outskirt for a long time and with his son back, he wants to be transferred to be with his son. I am giving you this authority for the decision on the transfer, so that you can start to build ties and they will owe you their gratitude” and Yi Wah said “Daddy, let me challenge him to a game of fencing first…”
And next episode? Surely not all 1 hour of fencing?!
Ok, episode 2 and no sign of Natalie Tong (and I am sorta thankful for that). Sire Ma’s appearance is good. Youthful, colourful, confident, spunky but if she is paired with Wayne, she is like 2 decades too young! Sorta weird pairing. Probably with Pierre Ngo. Anyway finally see Edwin Siu’s appearance, in a photo. My bet is he will be the smart cunning jerk. He is always playing those types.
Story wise, episode 2 is a huge jump from episode 1. I don’t like the confusing time jump but it is not so confusing that I can’t follow the story. I could but there is like at least 3 levels of flashbacks. That must be confusing for some.
This episode answered 3 important questions from episode 1:-
1. Which 1% case did Columbo did not solve?
His own case. Still no news on how he ended up the way he was.
2. Why Ping On felt such allegiance to Columbo?
I mean if he didn’t, after Dai Hei risked his life to save his entire family, Ping On is then worse than Columbo.
3. Are they gay?
No. Just best buds.
Love the progression of Ping On and Dai Hei’s story.
But the consistency in the time period is appalling! The suits didn’t look 60s. It screamed 80s. The car, the seats, everything. Even when Sire Ma dressed like she is ready to do the twister, I felt like she was from Brady Bunch stuck in the present time. So why not make this series into the 80s? Imagine all the huge shoulder pads and tick eye make up and dark tan make for the girls! It would be funny! But this series so far isn’t a comedy. I hate the way it is marketed. It is a damn serious drama, with a tinge of funniness. It is not Old Time Buddies! Marketing? Fail! Project accurate time period? Fail! Dialogue? Double fail! The dialogue is too modern, totally indistinguishable from that period of time. Mind you, the 60s was a time of its own, like 70s, 80s. Maybe 90s onwards not much difference. Very disappointing.
Performance wise, Pierre Ngo is a standout for his performance as Ping On thus far. I could feel him laughing at Dai Hei and yet humbled, he respected Dai Hei from thereon. I am sure next episode will talk more perhaps on how they become even closer and how Dai Hei become Columbo. But I seriously love Pierre’s performance.
Wayne Lai is a master. Ok so he was a bit OTT as the dumb Dai Hei or OTT as the super douche bag Columbo but hey, in a series you get not one but TWO masterful performance by the same man. What more can any fan ask? And Wayne is so sincere as Dai Hei, so punchable as Columbo, surely that must mean he was nothing but masterful? Give Moses this role. He will be one face throughout. Kenneth? Angry sneer and puppy dog eyes. Raymond Lam? Chok nice, chok arrogant. I can understand despite Wayne’s age, he is in this role. Who else? Roger Kwok perhaps but he is as old. Bowie? Also as old.
Anyway I haven’t commented on Wayne in terms of foreign languages, which he rarely spoke in his series except for this one, and in one scene, several languages. I am sure he can’t string a sentence together in English but his pronunciation for each word in here is clear, slightly HK accented but not too much. For that I am impressed.
Sire Ma is ok. So far so good.
The rest I have no comment except it is a nice touch that Ping On’s wife is a gwaipo. But where is his wife now? Did Columdo drive her away?
So many questions, and I look forward to episode 3 for the answer.
This Episodic Thoughts was written by Funn Lim, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com, and was originally posted at http://p2e-bulletbrain.blogspot.com.