“Master of Play’s” Terrifying Content Shakes Viewers
TVB’s controversial new drama, Master of Play <心戰>, aired on Monday, May 21st. Revolving around serial killers, the premiere episode of Master of Play was terrifying and suspenseful. The acting of Moses Chan (陳豪), Adam Cheng (鄭少秋), and Maggie Shiu (邵美琪) were praised. The ratings averaged 28 points, peaking at 30 points. Approximately 1.92 million viewers in Hong Kong watched the premiere episode.
Following the success of When Heaven Burns <天與地>, producer Jonathan Chik (戚其義) and scriptwriter Zhou Xuming’s (周旭明) Master of Play–rumored to be the duo’s last TVB drama–was highly anticipated by the audience. After the first episode was aired last night, online communities were immediately overtaken by excited discussion regarding the thrilling premiere episode.
Audiences Look for Hidden Messages
References to Hollywood’s classic thrillers, Silence of the Lambs and Se7en, were apparent in Master of Play, due to the common subject of serial killers and cannibalism. Netizens praised Master of Play for its suspenseful content and delivering terror without onscreen bloodshed. This was the highest form of a thriller, by allowing viewers to imagine and fear the unknown.
Scriptwriter, Zhou Xuming’s dramas were often praised for their clever dialogue. In the Weibo community, Zhou discussed with fans earlier that War and Beauty <金枝慾孽> had used the palace setting to depict the battles of life, while When Heaven Burns lamented the heartlessness of modern society. Master of Play delved on the destitute of life.
On the other hand, some viewers complained that they did not understand the subject material. They quickly changed channels after watching only 15 minutes.
Acting Praised (Contains Spoilers)
Adam Cheng’s acting was highly praised in Master of Play, especially in the scene where his tears rushed forth while he simultaneously applied theatrical makeup. Absent from TVB dramas since 2009’s King of Snooker <桌球天王>, Adam’s acting skills were challenged in Master of Play, by portraying a neurotic theater master who engaged in a battle of wits with Moses Chan’s character. Since Adam’s daughter was mistaken for a heiress, she was kidnapped and killed 25 years ago. However, Adam’s reason for survival depended on finding his daughter (portrayed by Lily Ho 何傲兒), whom he continued to see in his dreams.
Maggie Shiu portrayed a tragic character whose left arm was cut off by serial killer, Tsui Wing’s (徐榮). Afterward, she witnessed Tsui’s suicide hanging and her mother’s awkwardness over Maggie’s disability. Her life turned around when she met magician, Moses Chan, whom she regarded as the most important person in her life. As a result, Maggie was even willing to compromise her ethics, commit murder, and take blame for Moses’ crimes.
Tsui Wing’s 10-minute appearance was praised, due to the actor’s ability to depict the crazed violence of his violent character. Viewers also praised the scene in which Moses Chan proposed to Maggie due to her convincing tears.
Despite the violent subject matter, the first episode of Master of Play was filmed well and did not contain too much bloodshed. Nevertheless, the Broadcasting Authority still received 24 complaints that the series was violent and bloody; the material was regarded as inappropriate to be broadcast at the 9:30 PM time slot.
“Master of Play” Trailer
[vsw id=”SeOQ5Nhg_5o” source=”youtube” width=”425″ height=”344″ autoplay=”no”]
Source: Apple Daily
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Jayne: The premiere episode of Master of Play appeared to have set the right mood. Do you find the content to be as terrifying as claimed?
it’s definitely terrifying 🙂 the sand drawing adds another element of creativity as well.
i’m going to miss these duos. i hope they take their talent to a company that will cherish their work!
Mr. Chik and Mr. Zhou are rumored to join CTI after they complete “War and Beauty.” Although mainland China may pay more, the pair may wish to remain in HK more.
I’ve only watch episode 1. I love the sand drawing clips and also the very scary opening with Tsui Wing.
But, I find the series a bit boring after the explosive opening (first 15 mins). But, I will continue to watch the series. Moses’s character seems to be a nice guy for now. I want to see how he turns evil.
People don’t become serial killer suddenly. There must be some history in their past, starting with pets or similar. I hope it shows Moses as a serial killer since day 1. They are good at pretending. Seen enough of criminal minds to even profile one. I wonder how maggie figures in this? She participates? She stops him? I wonder will this series exceed expectation by being more perverse or will it be run of the mill, using serial killer theme to disguise a cop and robber chase story and a love story? Because if it is the latter I will feel cheated. But then this is TVB. They can’t exactly go perverse that way. I am actually more interested in Adam’s obsession with finding his daughter and if this series shows she is alive and well, I will switch off the TV. Life isn’t that perfect and I want this series to surprise me and show me the ugliest side of it.
“People don’t become serial killer suddenly. There must be some history in their past, starting with pets or similar.”
Agree, there is a theory that serial killers are born with a predisposition for killing. To enjoy the torture of killing, thus the symptoms of torturing animals and squashing insects when they are young. They know that killing is wrong, but they don’t care.
Perhaps there are some parallels between serial killers and serial rapists. They enjoy inflicting pain on their victims. They possess a perverse level of enjoyment, feeling as if they are in power and control. Killing or raping becomes a matter of control, magnifying their own self-importance.
I have read some books of true crime accounts, including a book about Charles Ng, America’s first Asian serial killer. He kept detailed drawings of torturing his female victims. His head was frequently obsessed with thoughts of violence and death and an urge to kill.
The mind of a criminal, how perverse the human mind can get, is the most terrifying aspect. I wonder if “Master of Play” will be able to explore and truly delve into this aspect.
Some report said the plot of Adam’s daughter being mistakenly kidnapped is inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s ‘High and Low’ (天国と地獄) (the Japanese title literally means ‘Heaven and Hell’).
They kept referencing his story with anotehr guy who pleaded innocence to his crime of killing his family. I am still not yet at ep 2 so I don’t know what is his daughter’s story but I was hoping her kidnapping is by a serial killer which ties nicely with the entire series instead of kidnapping for ransom or mistaken kidnapping which doesn’t make plot sense. When I saw episode 1 I kept thinking Madeleine McCain. This must be how her parents must be feeling. Very awful.
I read his daughter is a mistaken identity kidnapping.
What does mistaken identity kidnapping mean?
Adam Cheng’s daughter was mistaken as the girl of a rich family, thus she was kidnapped.
There are more spoilers in my article if you choose to find out.
i download the 1st 2 eps but havent had a chance to watch it yet.
I love the first episode. I think Jonathan Chik is extremely talented. His drama storylines are never run-of-the-mill and always stimulate thought.
Hannahh, would you or anyone else be able to provide me with some reliable links from where I can download HK and Mainland China TV series?
Thanks in advance,
I will pass on this one, couldn’t even make it through the theme song.
haha me neither. i just basically skipped through the whole ep
Skipping through the whole episode is not the way to watch a Jonathan Chik series.
The first time I have read about ‘Adam Cheng Effect’.
I’m going to have to rewatch the first episode since I skipped through the scenes to see Moses murdering his victims. Nothing happened so I waited for episode 2. Better not disappoint. I have not discovered a new drama that has hooked me since “On Call” and I was excited for this
The first episode creeped me out. I think I will watch it all at once when the series is over. I don’t want to wait everyday for just one episode at a time. I can’t stand the unknown! hehe…
Hello Jayne or everyone ,Are the Hong Kong share falling down since this serial aired,
is Moses a bad guy in this drama?
“Are the Hong Kong share falling down since this serial aired,
is Moses a bad guy in this drama?”
The Hong Kong stock index fell and then rose again during the airing of “Master of Play’s” 1st episode. The media tried to establish the “Ding Hai” or “Adam Effect” but personally I find it silly to do so. So everyone should short against Hong Kong stocks and hope to make huge profits if such a phenomenon exists.
The ‘Adam Effect’ is man-made imho. If there are a bunch of people fearing the ‘Adam Effect’ and throw their stock whenever an Adam series start airing, of course, the stock will go down.
I thought it was freaky and creepy, but it is nothing to what happens on Criminal Minds or CSI. I think TVB is catching up now which is a good thing.
Jayne, it was quite terrifying especially between Maggie’s character and Tsui Wing who by the way stabbed himself to death. The version I saw must have been edited because it felt disjointed. Maggie was excellent in portraying the fear in her eyes. However there is a fine line to portray a serial killer as crazy and just someone who well.. has a mission as in Tsui Wing. I didn’t like the pretentious dialogue. But I like Adam’s story with his daughter which is quite a twist. I have good impression of this but this is not criminal minds which to me sometimes is borderline glorifying violence and violent death.
I am still wondering about Moses’ character.
Thanks for your account. The terror lies in what one human can do to one another. Cannibalism in “When Heaven Burns” was due to a survival instinct. Allegedly, Moses will be eating one of his victims, which will be a lot more perverse due to the intent.
“I am still wondering about Moses’ character.”
This is the suspense driving the story, as we don’t know how his path towards killing will evolve. Will they pseudo-justify it with a perverted sense of justice? Or will they truly explore the workings of a cold-blooded, calculated criminal mind?
Probably it won’t go that deep or if it does it will be a very shallow way. Perverted sense of justice? Like that TV series.. Dexter is it?
I don’t find the dialogue pretentious. I think the dexter/sinister speech was useful to create the mood of the scene.
The first two episodes have definitely left me intrigued. Psycho-thrillers are so rare on the TVB screen and this seems particularly refreshing.
And yes, the sand drawings add the perfectly eerie finishing touch to the end of each eposide.
Hate the themesong… just turns me off from the serie…
I just love the sand drawings, it’s a perfect supplement to the psychological theme.
Tsui Wing did a good job as a mentally disturbed killer trying to “save” humans and that was the most exciting moment by far.
I do find this series interesting to some extent as I love this kind of series e.g. Dexter, Criminal Minds, CSI etc.
Still I don’t feel the urge to continue after 1st episode. Most likely bc im tired of the “triangle” Moses, Kenny, Maggie.
Theme song has a very old-school Adam Cheng feel lol.
I haven’t seen it yet. I’m hesitating because I’m not sure if it’s going to be another WHB – great story, but too long and dragging.
the first episode was terrifying for me, especially since i’m not a fan of horror-type dramas. the second episode got interesting, so i will continue to watch it. hope it doesn’t get too scary or gross. the music they use is creepy too. i won’t watch this during nighttime hahaha 😀
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