Episodic Thoughts: “Bullet Brain” (Episode 3)
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 said repay me your debt to me! Once you finish paying me, you can walk away! Until then, you will have to listen to me and do what I say! ”
Episode 1 was mediocre, episode 2 was at most time great and episode 3? Like crashing down from heaven to purgatory. Not as bad as crashing to hell but somewhere between heaven and hell. I don’t get what this series wants to be because right now it seems like it wants to be everything. Whilst Wayne’s Chai Gau had probably the most quotable quote of the year thanks to Rosy Business, here Columbo too have his quote but it ain’t that quotable. It is more like a pain to hear when it is repeated like 3 times and more and you sorta expect what Ping On will say. It was like the writer having run out of ideas what to write decided to copy and paste the same set of dialogue in a few different scenes. Which means this is not just purgatory, it is like being stuck at the same time many many times. It feels predictable and boring and yet in the last scene a new clue, a new scene which is welcoming.
I am feeling quite Jekyll and Hyde about this series, much like Columbo/Dai Hei combo. I like it, I dislike it, not at the same time though. And I believe if you have any criticisms for this series, episode 3 justifies those criticisms. Seriously, episode 3 is god awful.
BUT for some, there is a scene which may be encouraging where we have MALE NUDITY!!
Present day, in the 60s. Seriously, it doesn’t feel the 60s and I will continue to say so.
Yi Wah aka Eva (clever name) is in fencing costume, face covered, and she fought Fei Lung who was told he must win if he intends to stay in the force (WHAT?!) and Fei Lung won. Angrily she refused to concede defeat and so went wushu on him and he angrily and righteously said “I don’t care if you do not concede defeat, I won fair and square” but she went on like hiyah! hiyah! and all that and finally angrily Fei Lung threw her onto the floor, dropped on top of her and sorta wrestled and her helmet came off and he was shocked to see a girl and he immediately stood up and said “I do not fight girls” and Eva, angrily hiyah him and I think she stalked off or something. Let’s just say Fei Lung disliked her at first glance.
Fei Lung stripped and stood half naked before us all.
Edwin has an ok body, kinda soft but not mushy or fat, just not toned but hey, better than nothing right? What? You expect full nudity? Hey this is TVB! It is TVB style! This is as good as you can ever ever ever get.
Nudity continued with Fei Lung showering, using shampoo when suddenly water stopped and he was struggling when superior screamed “Inspector here to inspect! Come out of the shower, now!” and Fei Lung realised he lost his towel and no choice, he walked out naked, shampoo in the eye, superior did not bat an eyelid and in came Eva and she did not bat an eyelid, but Fei Lung sorta did and Eva looked him over and said “How can you be so careless to lose your towel? You must be prudent! Losing your towel is not acceptable. What if there is a case ongoing, and you are needed? Then what? If you could lose your towel, what more can you lose?” and Fei Lung grudgingly apologised and Eva stalked off.
Outside, Eva went into her room, closed it and then went breathing heavily and cupping her cheeks and looking into the mirror. So the tough act was just an act. She was actually very flustered by seeing handsome Fei Lung naked.
What.is.her.problem? Why she went all beyatch on Fei Lung who did nothing wrong? From the get go when he beat her at fencing she went crazy and what she did in the toilet was uncalled for. I was hoping Eva will be a mature supercop but she turned out to be one crazy petty egoistical beyatch cop. So frankly, whilst I disagree with what Columbo did, I felt no pity for her because she really needed to be beaten down to earth. And if you’re wondering why Eva so young can be Inspector, I suppose if you have a university degree, trained in Scotland Yard and is the only child of the police commissioner, it helps.
Fei Lung was summoned to see Eva and Eva said to him arrogantly, “I will ask you questions and you will answer. Understand?” and Fei Lung gave her that eye and said “Yes”. So she began…
“What is your name?”
“Choi Fei Lung”
“What is your age?”
“6 feet” (really?!)
“Are you a man or a woman?”
And Fei Lung was like “WTH?!” and she said “Answer me!!” and he said grudgingly “A man” and she shouted “I KNOW THAT! That is obvious” and he looked like so why ya ask me ya beyatch! and she sorta answered that unspoken question “What I want to know is not the obvious. What I want is your absolute obedience. No matter what questions I ask, what I demand of you, you will obey my orders, no matter what. Understood?” and Fei Lung gave her that eye again and said “Yes madam!” and she smiled thinking she managed to find her own lap dog when she said “Now you go out and shout out Ko Dai Hei’s name and that I want to see him. Now!” and he stalked off…
What a bitch! What’s the purpose of this scene? To show how immature she is as a leader and how dumb she is. What a crash to earth for me. Was hoping something special but in the end, what an insult! And it gets worse believe me…
She smiled satisfactorily (childish bitch!) when Fei Lung shouted “Ko Dai Hei! Madam wants to see you! Ko Dai Hei!!” and in walked Ping On and Eva looked at him and said “You are not Ko Dai Hei” and Ping On said “Madam I am not” and she angrily said “When I said I want to see Ko Dai Hei, I expect to see Ko Dai Hei. Tell him to come in” and Ping On said “Madam, that is what I am trying to tell you. Assistant Inspector Ko has left the building” and she went WHAT?! and he continued “He is on a trail of a major drug trafficking case and he had to leave to follow that trail but he said Madam is to follow me to his hideout so that Madam can give your orders on how best to approach this case” and Eva was like really? Sooooo exciting! sorta look and she said “Ok” and she immediately left with Ping On and saw Fei Lung standing outside and she said “You! Come with me!” and Fei Lung followed.
What happened next was this;
Ping On led her and Fei Lung on a merry go round whereby she sprained her ankle, had to go on a boat, vomited, lost her balance (thanks to Ping On shaking the boat) and fell into the water and lost her hat, looked totally disheveled, went into a warehouse and was bitten by mosquitoes and then got cockroaches crawling all over whilst Fei Lung was busy fighting the drug traffickers (who were actually there) and that culminated with Columbo rescuing her like a gallant hero and then she stepped onto a nail, and he carried her to the command tent with the reporters waiting at the remote island to take her pictures and then with Columbo giving interviews giving her full credit for successfully capturing the traffickers.
And now you ask, why? WHY?!
Somewhere during this exhausting merry go round (exhausting for me because it was such an idiotic farce), we see flashback and Ping On argued with Columbo;
“I refuse to do it! She is just a young girl! Why are you doing this to her?” and Columbo angrily said “Don’t you get it? She is sent by her father to spy on me! He doesn’t trust me and I need to get her off my back. I need her total trust to counter her father’s distrust. She is just some vain spoilt little girl thinking she can do anything and I can break that confidence of her. I need you to break her so that she won’t be my obstacle!” and Ping On said “No, I won’t do it! That is cruel! I won’t!” and Columbo screamed “You have to. You will everything I say and you know it!” and Ping On said “Yes of course, because you are always right and no one can ever cheat you!” and Columbo said (now with crazy eyes) “Yes! YES! No one, no one can ever ever cheat me!!” and Ping On said “No I won’t do it” and he started to walk away when Columbo said “Fine! Repay me your debt to me!” and Ping On looked at him and Columbo said “I said repay me your debt to me! Once you finish paying me, you can walk away! Until then, you will have to listen to me and do what I say!” and Ping On knew he was defeated and stayed.
The debt here is Columbo saving Ping On’s entire family, a debt he can never fully repay. But I feel he stayed because in his heart he is waiting for Dai Hei to return. He did it out of loyalty and out of love for Dai Hei but the problem is Dai Hei is trapped inside Columbo and so Ping On had to stay, for Dai Hei’s sake. It was never about any debt.
And along the way we see more flashbacks where Columbo said “This girl is vain, she is pretty, she is young, she thinks she can conquer the world, her arrogance, her ego, her prejudice, we need to break those habit and the first step is to STRIP her” and Ping On frowned though strip is not literally but figuratively as Columbo continued “Strip her off her looks, her pride, her appearance and she will be bare faced and vulnerable” and that was what Ping On did, by effectively causing her to fall into the sea where she lost her hat, make up ruined, all went, ankle sprained and she became so sensitive that she scolded both guys for looking at her when I believe one of them said “Madam we are not looking at you. We are waiting for your command” and she didn’t seem so confident anymore but insisted on going to the warehouse despite Ping On saying “Madam if you want we can still go back and wait for Assistant Inspector Ko’s command” which Fei Lung agreed but being that arrogant her, she decided to continue on and frankly I lost whatever feeling of pity for her.
You know what happened next and we see Columbo explaining to Ping On “Then we must release a woman’s greatest fear” and he held up cockroaches and Ping On said “Isn’t it enough you will destroy her confidence? Need you do that too?” and Columbo sneered “If we must do this, we must destroy her completely!”
You know what happened after that. During the cockroach scene, he even felt his way up under her skirt to catch a cockroach. Basically in 1 day, she was completely humiliated, beaten down, molested and embarrassed and then subsequently rescued and felt safe with Columbo.
In the hospital, same doctor who treated Columbo was treating Eva and Columbo told him who Eva was and told him to call the commissioner. On his way out he saw Ping On and told Ping On to alert the reporters and let them in when the commissioner arrived which prompted Ping On to say “Isn’t it enough?” and of course the answer is no.
In the hospital room, Eva was having nightmares as Columbo looked at her coldly as he said “Eva Kam, I will break you and then you will be my ally against your father” and he switched off the light and when Eva was shaking with fear he purposely bend down and she grabbed him and he was on top of her and her father walked in and switched on the light and saw him on top of Eva and immediately he screamed “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? YOU BASTARD!!” and he punched Columbo and reporters snapped away and Eva shouted “DADDY! NO! NO! He was reassuring me! I was having nightmares!” and Commissioner knew perhaps he made a mistake and he shouted at the reporters “OUT!! OUT!! OR I WILL ARREST ALL OF YOU!!” and Columbo made his excuse to leave too as Eva said “Assistant Inspector Ko! Please, don’t go! I am so sorry!”
Outside the room, Ping On confronted Columbo “You did all that but need you put a nail into her foot as well?” and Columbo said “So what? Anyway her father punched me hard on the face, so we can call us even” and he walked away and into the lift but I believe again they argued about his behaviour and of course Columbo’s quote of no one can ever cheat him and Ping On countering that he knows no one can ever cheat Columbo. Same old drill.
At home, Eva was not happy as she was ready to go to bed. Commissioner came into her room and he said “Eva, I was trying to protect you. I thought he was taking advantage of you” and Eva said “Daddy, he didn’t. He helped me, he rescued me, and you are wrong about him” and Kam said “I don’t trust him, didn’t I tell you that? What did he tell you?” and Eva said “Nothing, he told me nothing. Daddy you don’t trust me too!” and Kam tried to convince his daughter but Eva was set in her ways; she believed Columbo and that’s that.
That night Commissioner secretly met with Fei Lung in his study room and asked Fei Lung what really happened but Fei Lung didn’t know much. When Fei Lung spoke loudly, Commissioner shushed him so that Eva won’t hear but Kam himself was becoming very agitated and raised his voice but managed to control his temper as he whispered “I chose you to be my daughter’s assistant because you are cunning and 100% in everything! But it seems you fail at everything, you’re dumb! I tell you, you better watch over Eva, make sure no harm comes to her, if not you will be responsible! Get it?” and Fei Lung reluctantly said “Yes sir”.
Poor Fei Lung. Stuck between the devil and the dead blue sea and on the horizon more sharks are coming!
At home, Ping On saw Columbo who seemed to have a perpetual sneer on his face, same old argument ensued and Columbo challenged Ping On “You can move out! No one is stopping you! Go away!!” and Ping On angrily said “I won’t! Dai Hei is still there and I will make sure he comes back! Look, you still have that conscience in you, no matter how you deny it. See that box? That’s where you kept your conscience and you never broken that and that tells me deep down you are still Dai Hei with the conscience. You want me to leave? Fine! Break this box, break it and therefore smash your conscience to pieces and I will know then you’re no longer the man I once knew and that you are totally devoid of conscience. Do that and I will leave!” and Ping On walked away and Columbo sneered, looking at the small cupboard aka the box.
Columbo was sleeping when suddenly he woke up in cold sweat and rushed out and took a hammer and went to the box and angrily said “I will destroy you, conscience!! I will!!!” and he smashed open the lock and inside was a clay figurine of a girl, just ONE clay figurine of a girl which Columbo locked away and Columbo looked at it and he went “I WILL SMASH MY CONSCIENCE INTO PIECES!!!” and he aimed the hammer (or maybe axe was the weapon of choice, memory quite fuzzy) at the figurine when suddenly his brain hurt (and we get to see the nifty effects of camera zooming into his brain and into a single nerve point but by then I have seen that a few times and so TVB can only afford ONE nifty effect which quickly became old) and he fell to the floor and he looked at the figurine and..
A simple happy Ko Dai Hei playing his golden trumpet and speaking to the figurine as he said innocently “I know we haven’t spoken for 1 year xx months xx days but I am happy we will be speaking again!” and we heard a harsh voice from a girl (Natalie Tong – dramatic as ever) saying “How many times have I told you, stop looking for me!” and Dai Hei said “I know you’re angry with me, whatever it may be I am sorry” and Mui Mui said harshly “We are not that young kid anymore! You and I.. it is a never ever. I want to leave this god forsaken village. I want to move to the town and marry rich. Don’t you get it?!” and Dai Hei teared up as he said “I know I am not a smart man and I am not that sort of man you want to marry (eh! sound like a scene from Forest Gump!!!), I know that… I know that…” and he was crying as Mui Mui said (with a tinge of pity? guilt? in her eyes) “That figurine… you still have it…” but she sounded harsh and cold as Dai Hei said “If you want it, you can take it back” and Mui Mui said “I don’t want it! I want you to stop this! We will never be together!” and she threw the figurine onto the ground and breaking into 2 pieces and Dai Hei rushed to pick them up as Mui Mui walked away, ignoring Dai Hei’s distress as Dai Hei cried and looked at Mui Mui’s back, walking away and back in present, there was Columbo in extreme pain on the floor, tears in his eyes as he looked at the figurine and he cried; “Mui Mui…”
Next episode… where is Mui Mui? More importantly, where is Ping On’s mom and wife?!
The last 10 minutes is the only big leap in the story development for this series, the rest is just a complete waste of time. So Mui Mui is Columbo’s conscience. That is very interesting. The doctor in Episode 2 said the brighter he is, the less emotion he can feel or rather he becomes cold and calculating and he can feel no more. Now tell me, didn’t the TVB writers first copied from Forest Gump for simple minded Dai Hei and now at the end is copying Bond film, The World If Not Enought where Robert Carlyle’s character also had a bullet in his head and supposedly he was super villain, felt no physical pain but in actual fact he could still pain that is an emotional one? Columbo could feel physical pain but his emotional self, his conscience no longer exist but clearly with Mui Mui, there is a buried conscience, a buried former self deep down. He locked that away, as that figurine represented Dai Hei but yet he didn’t destroy it because Dai Hei in him still loved Mui Mui and therefore Columbo still loved Mui Mui. Like when in extreme physical pain, he called out to Ping On and now to Mui Mui, that at his worst pain, he was Dai Hei trying to escape from Columbo’s cold calculating self.
This to me is the most interesting aspect of this series and of this episode. Will Columbo feel that way when he meets Mui Mui again or will he dismiss her?
The rest of the story though is just crap. I hate how bitchy and childish Eva is, and I am very disappointed how insulting the development for Eva’s character. I mean I was expecting great things but in the end, it just fell flat. That however great and highly trained, she is just a childish spoilt princess waiting for be rescued by her knight in shining armour. It is like slapping Eva and US the viewers, isn’t it? So what’s next? Eva has a crush on Columbo who is nice to her but barely? She is now his ally? So daddy turns to Fei Lung who is the spy? Will Fei Lung turn evil? Will he be redundant? And then there’s Mui Mui who I am sure will turn up all mysterious and stuff but may trigger a response from Columbo emotionally. And what of Ping On who keeps doing Columbo’s dirty work? He can walk away, let Columbo deal with life himself and maybe just maybe Columbo will change a little. But since he has no conscience… that may be difficult to justify by the writers to the viewers.
Let’s just say if I were to switch on the TV to watch the first 35 minutes, I will switch it off. I am so getting bored and tired with Columbo, his quote and his behaviour. I want Dai Hei!!
Performance wise …
I admit, in light of Natalie Tong and Sire Ma, Wayne is too old. But repeatedly we hear Pierre saying Sire’s character is a young girl, so maybe they’re supposed to be much older than she is. But Natalie and Wayne grew up together, so the age gap can’t be too wide. It is interesting that as Dai Hei, Wayne looked so much young with heavy duty make up. As Columbo, he looked older, wearier. But yes, Wayne is too old. But who can play 2 extreme polar opposites so convincingly even if I hated his Columbo? No one. But if you don’t mind, and I don’t mind actually, I do feel perhaps Pierre can takeover Columbo/Dai Hei role and perhaps Sammy Shum can play the loyal Ping On. In a way Sammy has this face of a guy who is steadfast by another when he is playing the nice guy even if his acting isn’t great. Pierre we all have seen playing a not so smart man and also a cunning Emperor so I am sure he can handle both roles. But Wayne was masterful in his performance, making clear distinction in the 2 characters and yet in the last 1 minute, managed to let us see a glimmer of Dai Hei in Columbo. At that moment, I pitied Columbo. Can Pierre do that?
Sire Ma is serviceable but hardly Inspector material. But like I said earlier, the role is badly written. So the fault isn’t hers entirely. I am sick of the potential hero worshipping of Columbo by Eva. So I hope Natalie’s Mui Mui will kick his ass.
And Natalie Tong, just a few minutes but her Mui Mui was cold, materialistic and heartless. I felt so bad for Dai Hei. So I look forward to her full appearance soon although Natalie can turn any lighthearted scene into the most heaviest drama ever. She really needs to tone down that drama thing. She’s no drama queen so to speak but she just manages to sound so grave, so serious. Her type of acting is made for characters like a cop in the middle of a hostage situation where 100 hostages are trapped with 200 terrorists inside a 100 floor building which is on fire where the top part is filled with dynamites and bottom part with nuclear warheads and nearby a nuclear reactor just exploded and the world is coming to an end but could end earlier because a huge asteroid is heading earth’s way as well as aliens on the rampage to kidnap human beings for food whilst her only child is drowning in a lake nearby with piranhas circling nearby and at the moment when she speaks her line, she KNOWS all that. Yes, she is THAT dramatic or rather act as if she is in that sort of drama.
Joe Jr is a disgrace as an actor. I mean come on! A veteran and he still acts terrible. But who else can play his Commissioner? No one, not because other can’t act better but seriously, just no one!
Because of the last 3 minutes or so, I look forward to episode 4. But if I should hear another of that damn quote and Ping On being gutless to say no to Columbo or Eva hero worshipping or Columbo’s crazy eye, I don’t know, the next episodic thought may be my last for this series!
This Episodic Thoughts was written by Funn Lim, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com, and was originally posted at http://p2e-bulletbrain.blogspot.com.