[Review] “A Fist Within Four Walls” (By Funn

A Fist Within Four Walls <城寨英雄>
TVB Drama 2016

Producer: Jazz Boon
Genre: Action Drama
Number of Episodes: 28

Ruco Chan as Chor Au Kuen
Benjamin Yuen as Duen Ying Fung
Nancy Wu as Tiu Lan
Philip Ng as Lung Shing Fu
Grace Wong as Fa Man
Moon Lau as Audrey
Yuen Chiu as Yuk Bo Fung
Carlo Ng as Fung Chun Mei

“I was ready to criticize and not see any good in it. However on reflection I see the good as well”

A Fist Within Four Walls Ruco Chan Benjamin YuenThe title is so apt. As I was watching this series (purely for Ruco Chan), my hand formed into a fist and I found myself punching all 4 walls, purely out of frustration. This series won Best Series in TVB Awards and I feel it was the popular choice but it was the wrong choice. The best series of the year was House of Spirits and it wasn’t for its performances or story. It was for consistency in the story and performances.

What A Fist Within Four Walls lack is consistency in absolutely everything. Character, pacing, storytelling, focus, ending. It focused on A and ended on B when A was the more interesting story.

Basically it is all about Ruco Chan; he played father and then he played son. His two stories intertwined with many other as with every TVB series since time immemorial. TVB will never do a linear story because it would be too boring and they can’t ever really completely focus on one storyline. That’s fine until it reaches a crossroad of storytelling; continue with main story or go the other way and just muck up the main story. As with all TVB series, this series certainly went the other way. For example;

1. I was very interested in episode 1, the back story about the protectors of the walled city of Kowloon; Duen and Chiu. The series spent so little time on them and just zoom straight to meet, friend, kill, die, children grow up, in that order. I wanted to know more about Chiu Man San, and Duen Tung Tin. Surely the producer can take 6 episodes or so to just tell a proper backstory? Because it had TWO of the most heart wrenching death scenes ever; the mysterious unfortunate death of the noble upright Duen and then the downright murder of Chiu and his wife, the guest starring and almost zero dialogue Natalie Wong in a wasted guest appearance. It was a very shocking mob rule sort of scene that sets the pace of the story and then… the story simply failed to capitalize on that.

2. Whilst Kuen Lo had a very sad backstory, I can never understand why the writer chose to make him grow into a bumbling country bumpkin, ever optimistic whilst Duen Ying Fung, the son of the noble Duen was far more cynical. Maybe because he was a city kid? Anyway I was expecting Kuen Lo to be the angry sort. He did witnessed the mob murder of his parents. Not only did he failed to investigate their tragic double murder, later we will find out he didn’t even bother to bury them. He actually believed his father murdered Master Duen. The greatest joke is it was the younger Duen who suspected foul play. It was this change of direction that just frustrates me. Yes Ruco was cute to watch as some overoptimistic highly idealized person but Kuen Lo must have been blind, deaf and incapable of rationale thinking to grow up that way. He should be the one seeking answers, getting revenge, instead for the rest of the series he hardly did anything that one can say he did justice for his father and mother and his family honor. He was far too busy being noble, being forgiving, being in love, being blind and then being happy. The major dramatic thrust of responsibility of being the one doing all the questioning and all was left to Duen Ying Fung which makes me feel Duen Ying Fung was a far better character. And these two started as equal, and then Duen Ying Fung seems to take precedence, towards the end Duen Ying Fung was kicked to the back because the producers suddenly remember who is supposed to be the leading actor.

3. I was far more interested in the story of Fa Man than Tiu Lan and yet we are not shown Fa Man’s backstory, instead we have Tiu Lan’s story about assassins, etc. Fa Man in passing narrated her life where she had to do things she didn’t want to do but had to because she need to survive and because she wanted to investigate the murder of her parents. By the way this little girl buried her parents. This little girl who was lost grew up knowing her father was maligned and unfairly accused of Master Duen’s death. This little girl grew up seeking revenge and justice, and rightly so. And somehow she knew Kuen Lo was her big brother, so she was highly skilled in every area. I admire her from day 1. This is one strong female character and to me the strongest of all characters in this series, including the men. She was far ahead of her bumbling country bumpkin brother in all areas and she suffered more than he did and never wavered in her conviction. When she found love, it was sweet as opposed to her brother’s love which was to me a hindrance to the growth of the character. Like I said, we have Tiu Lan’s childhood story but nothing on Fa Man. How did Fa Man survived? Shouldn’t this story concentrate on her at one side and then on Kuen Lo on another? Maybe spend a few episodes actually showing us how they grew up? Not everything has to be flashbacks you know.

4. And so we have Tiu Lan taking the spotlight from Fa Man when Fa Man was the main character to me. For everything about Tiu Lan, I feel those can be shifted to Fa Man, meaning Fa Man can be the one hungry and willing to kill for food, trained to be assassin, etc. That will explain why she can fight so well. And it will tie in with why she left the organisation and came to Kowloon. Basically Tiu Lan’s character was just a surplus who did nothing to contribute to the story and frankly Kuen Lo doesn’t need a love story to show he is capable of love and gentleness. That can be exhibited through his love for his sister, his only living family.

5. Even if we have Tiu Lan, which is ok with me, my biggest problem is Tiu Lan is a waste of space. For a moment she had so much potential. This was like Kung Fu Hustle, a place where great kung fu warriors live and hide their identities. When Tiu Lan was so distraught over the death of an innocent girl that she cared deeply about, that one scene where she single handedly killed all those men was probably the greatest highlight of this series, apart from Fa Man killing those responsible for the death of her father. It was so promising, like what will Tiu Lan do next? I was expecting her to do more, to be unleashed more. Well, she fainted, woke up, had amnesia or pretended to and for the rest of the series quite simply disappeared into the background and occasionally resurface because hey, that’s Nancy Wu, she’s the leading lady, nobody can tell her her Tiu Lan was after that forgettable and rendered useless to the plot. It was so frustrating to watch. I was waiting and waiting for her to do something everytime there’s injustice but nope, nothing.

6. I was never convinced by the love story of Tiu Lan and Kuen Lo. Tiu Lan was too cartoonish. For someone who wanted to hide from the world, she behaved in such a way that the world will notice her. His blindness and her way of taking care of him led to one of the silliest plot error ever; apparently no one could find Kuen Lo since he was blind and wasting away somewhere deep in remorse, guilt, regret. People asked around, in fact people were dispatched to look for him but no one ever asked Tiu Lan because she could find him very easily. she knew exactly where he was.

7. Fa Man’s death was tragic but in the end could have packed more punch. I just feel at that point the writer just wanted to move on from Fa Man who by then was my most favourite character so I perfectly understood that meant her death because it was either her or Tiu Lan and again you don’t kill Nancy Wu because she is the leading lady. Would have been much better if Tiu Lan died because Fa Man had more things to be done.

8. One of the most tragic deaths, apart from the elder Duen and Chiu was Lung Shing Fu who spent half the series misunderstood and the other half just ended up doing the right thing. His death was brutal and was one of the best scenes in this series for the intensity and the drama. Again he was dispatched away and then for the rest of the series, pushed aside as the stories unfold. I feel he needn’t die so soon or die at all.

9. My memory may have failed me but I kinda remember the folks in the Walled City didn’t deserve protection from day 1. I didn’t see them standing up for themselves, more so for others. In fact most of the time for such a packed city, I didn’t see much people when there was trouble. There was no unity and sometimes you wonder why bother to fight for these people?

10. I didn’t get why the ultimate bad guy wanted to control walled city unless he wanted a factory to produce his opium or drugs. Because I distinctly remember the pudding man had control outside the walled city so why is it so important that he must control the walled city? There must have been a reason for his disguise, for his secret identity but somewhere along the way the series abandoned that reason and just went all out of kung fu fighting and less about story development. When pudding man said he slept with the wife of another prominent villain and produced a very sweet nice daughter, I wonder was it real? There was no flashback. TVB, this is one scene you need flashback and amp up the sex but nope, nothing. So I wonder, was he telling the truth or was that scene cut? Poor Audrey; between a bad guy father and an evil father, I am not sure if she had the best of either world.

11. Poor Audrey that she never married. I mean she deserves a happy ending and it isn’t learning muay tai and taking care of her would be mother in law. She never married Lung Shing Fu anyway. Her happy ending is going away, doing something, marrying someone else, moving on. Nobody ever moves on in TVB world, she’s far too young to be a would be widow. I was hoping she ended up with Duen Ying Fung but I guess Duen Ying Fung is the bona fide widower. Wait! He wasn’t married either. Was he?

A Fist Within Four Walls Nancy Wu Ruco Chan 212. The ending for Tiu Lan and Kuen Lo quite frankly left a bad taste in my mouth. Yes, I said people should move on but at some point with so many deaths, it was highly inappropriate to have them ended up having sex in a public place as a happy ending. A wedding perhaps, traveling the world perhaps, a nice ending kissing scene by the sunset perhaps. But her removing his clothes and pulling him into some secluded area and giggling till the end? By this time, after being through so many things, so many deaths, so much pain and regret and sorrow, I feel the ending shouldn’t be this childish and playful. This is no time for playful since they began playful, the ending should have been a more mature end because people do grow up and perspective change but love stays and with that, a more quiet mature ending was more apt. It just feel like all the deaths didn’t matter; these two matters. By that time I didn’t quite care for these two at all because I have had it with Kuen Lo spending most of the series moping around doing nothing much and Tiu Lan spending almost entire series doing absolutely nothing. And the fact that she wore a tight catsuit to fight is not a plus point.

13. The ultimate villain is a problem. I don’t know what’s with TVB these days. Any drama about mystery, murder, suspense, and they have this idea of villains and ultimate villain or rather ultimate boss, like some video game. In this series, the ultimate boss is Pudding Man. And it felt incomplete. Surely Pudding Man was working for someone? There must be an ultimate boss to the ultimate boss? If Pudding Man is the ultimate boss, and indeed he was, it was such a let down.

But there are goods in this series but they are almost always the secondary characters.

This series had 3 strong villains. Pudding Man was not one of them because I never quite got the guy. If only he had more time to be developed as a proper villain, he could have been a very cruel calculating cold one. The ultimate CCC combination. The 3 villains were the 3 fractions at the start of this series;

1. Fuk Sau Kam was an interesting character. He was the drug lord of the walled city and what I love about him was his death scene; because that was when Fa Man was unleashed and the way she killed him was the highlight for me.

2. Or Man Cheung was also an interesting character in the sense he was the hypocrite and he controlled the gambling dens. However he wasn’t the ultimate villain because his villaness was checked by his love for his daughter, Audrey.

3. Fung Ha Moon was one half of the duo villains who controlled the prostitution empire. He spent his time mostly sneering. It was his other half, his older brother Fung Chun Mei who to me was the most memorable villain in this series. Cold, calculating, cruel, he had the CCC but he had one I suppose redeeming factor that Pudding Man didn’t have; Fung Chun Mei loved his brother very much, blindly in fact. I felt he dominated every scene he was in by not really saying much or even talking loudly; he was rather soft spoken and to me he was the scariest of the lot.

Then there was a character I grew to like who was Lung Shing Fu who started shady and mostly half naked with oil slathered on his body. Then when he moved past that stage, he was in the end a rather noble character forced by his own sense of misdirected loyalty and saved by his love for his mother who disapproved of everything he did and his love for the sweet Audrey. That was why his death scene was significant; this was a major character heavily involved in the story and to lose him so soon for me is what a waste of a good story.

And of course there was Audrey whom I really like. There are characters that are so sweet you just want to slap them. But Audrey is a sweet character that you can’t help but like. She has her own viewpoint and her own moral compass. Considering that she had the DNA of the Pudding Man (which isn’t good news) and raised by another hypocritical bad guy (which should really have made her rotten), she turned out to be a rather upstanding character that you can cheer for.

Finally there was Fa Man, possibly my most favorite female character to-date in a TVB series. She was strong as she was gentle, she was forceful as she was soft spoken, she sacrificed and she knew why she had to sacrifice. Whilst her brother was very forgiving of those who murdered their parents, she was far less forgiving and I felt her revenge scenes were the highlight. Her death was tragic but from my memory, not much significance given to her AFTER death scenes which frustrates me. I felt Fa Man could have merged with Tiu Lan as one character so that I don’t ever have to see the silly Tiu Lan again but it seems a man is only whole if he ever got a girlfriend and the world will stop spinning if Kuen Lo doesn’t get his love story. The joke is the quiet moments between Kuen Lo and Fa Man were the love story for me; the sibling love story as they reconnect and his horrified look as she told him her very very brief backstory which deserved a flashback! TVB, flashback here!!!

There are other characters and it suddenly hit me But Tak Liu’s wife was Emma in Dead Wrong. No complaints about those characters since they represent the ordinary folks of the walled city.

I should also mention the walled city itself. It was quite stunning backdrop even at times I do know it is a studio because it was too clean and too much echo. I like Thai Po’s shop, in Malaysia we used to have such shops which we called “Kedai Runcit” where you see biscuits in glass jars, etc. Those are dying breed here except in small towns. I like the costumes or for men, the lack of costumes since whenever they fight, their upper torso is devoid of clothing and is mysteriously suddenly oily. Not complaining although the only one who should ever take off his top is Lung Shing Fu. The rest can keep their clothes on. And yet the one who was scariest was the guy who was always in the same costume and that was Fung Chun Mei. You don’t see him losing his top at all. Not even his lipstick and eyeshadow.

A Fist Within Four Walls Philip NgAnd finally, the stunt work and kung fu deserves a mention, even if some of the actors do more dancing or aerobic exercises than kung fu. Some you know are trained, so it looked more effortless and packed with power. Some you know are good dancers, therefore they are more fluid, graceful and able to showcase a different aspect of the real kung fu used here when they used a bit more power. Some you know are hopeless and they seemed to be doing tai chi more than forceful kung fu and you can imagine them counting one.. two… three.. when throwing the not so powerful punches. It beggars belief why that particular person is even hired for this series playing not one but TWO kung fu experts when he didn’t even played a convincing dentist. You will be surprised who was convincing; the secondary actors were the ones who surprised me most with their fluid movements and they were pretty convincing. You gets snippets of their choreography at the end of each episodes, how meticulous they were, how difficult it all was and how effortless they made it all looked.

Performances Evaluated
No doubt this series is a group effort and should be commended for their effort. Whilst the story is to me a total waste of resources, talent and opportunity and absolutely undeserving of any award, it is time TVB should create an award known as Best Cast or something like that to honor not the best series but the best group. I feel this series and House of Spirits should win that award.

Ruco Chan
A Fist Within Four Walls Nancy Wu Ruco ChanI watched this series for him and I ended up despising his Kuen Lo from episode 2. I wished he was Duen Ying Fung because I think I long to see Ruco in a role that doesn’t involve him being impestous, reckless, shouting his lines. Between he and Nancy Wu, I needed ear plugs because they were loud. And I would think Ruco will look more covincing as a dentist, a master in kung fu and look mighty dashing in a suit. Unfortunately for Ruco, he got stuck with Kuen Lo. Or maybe fortunately because he undeservingly won the Best Actor award at the TVB awards. For body of work, I will give it to Ruco but for this series, no I won’t. Kuen Lo was one of his weakest performances because his character was not well written and he didn’t have much to do apart from spending most of the series moping around. Now I am really hoping TVB will remake Hanzawa Naoki. I always said I thought Roger Kwok would be my Hanzawa but since Roger Kwok had most of the more interesting characters, it is time Ruco is given a role like Hanzawa. In fact if there is a Nirvana In Fire, I want Ruco as the Prince where he can be honorable and impetuous, his best traits in all his characters. For Kuen Lo, I am not saying he was terrible but Kuen Lo hardly stretched his acting prowess. Also Kuen Lo made no sense; I just hated the whole country bumpkin over enthusiastic overly kindly noble sort of guy who was his father’s greatest critic because he never believed his father. And no one ever remembers the poor mother. By the way Ruco was far better as the father and his kung fu was very convincing.

Benjamin Yuen
A Fist Within Four Walls Ruco Chan Benjamin Yuen 2He played the senior Duen weakly (I wasn’t even convinced he was the respected master) and the junior Duen in a way that when he wasn’t doing the fighting, he was tolerable. Duen Ying Fung, if you must know, is my most favorite male character in this series because he is a human being unlike Kuen Lo who is god knows what he is. Duen Ying Fung actually do human stuff and have human emotions and could think better. Problem is Benjamin Yuen is such a snore. That guy just slowed down everything and his kung fu scenes were the weakest because he was so skinny, his kung fu had no force and he was rather slow. But his best scene was when he discovered his entire family murdered. Even then the grief was too brief, too little but since Duen Ying Fung is not a very emotional guy, you can interprete his detachment in the sense he is that sort of a person.

Philip Ng
A Fist Within Four Walls Philip Ng Moon LauA strange guy. He actually looks handsomer as the series went on and his character suits his performance or the other way around. Yes he was wooden, but Lung Shing Fu is wooden. Yes he was not very emotional or expressive but Lung Shing Fu is that sort of guy. The role is kinda written with him in mind. Another actor who could have played this role and not change one expression is Kenny Wong but frankly, Philip Ng is a far more expressive actor than Kenny Wong and that is saying something. Philip Ng was also very convincing in his fight scenes, considering his background. Really packed a punch.

Nancy Wu
A Fist Within Four Walls Nancy WuShe is the leading lady here. I find her performance here and her every other performances lacking variety. However the problem for her here is the lack of depth for her character. I could only imagine if Tiu Lan didn’t go back to hiding but was unleashed or Tiu Lan is merged with Fa Man, what can Nancy Wu do? Maybe much more. Her scene where she killed all those men was the highlight. It was beautifully filmed, she was quite convincing except for the jumping up scene and for someone so skinny she packed a punch. Whilst fans lauded her chemistry with Ruco, I don’t see any. Of course they are now basking in their popularity and no doubt helped by their so called chemistry and rumors of a relationship (could be true if Ruco ever change his taste in women and he might), but I feel she had far more chemistry with the older Bobby Au Yeung in House of Spirits than in this series. And I liked her much much more in the other series. In here, she is wasted and a waste of space. I will not mince my words about Tiu Lan; I am bitter that Tiu Lan took away much screentime from Fa Man who deserved her backstory. Tiu Lan to me could be removed and A Fist Within Four Walls will still be the story it is.

Grace Wong
A Fist Within Four Walls Grace WongShe gave perhaps her career defining performance in this series. Before, her acting is credible, except people hated her for her religious views. But the girl can act and I like that she whispers rather than shouts. She is Mandy Wong but Mandy Wong’s problem is she speaks like she is teaching a language class whilst Grace speaks as if that’s how she speaks. For someone so skinny, her kung fu was the most convincing amongst the women, Yuen Qiu included. Maybe it was her dancing background, but her movements were fluid, almost dancer like, very graceful and with such force you will believe she can throttle you to the floor and sweet talk you at the same time. I love her scenes with Ruco, the way they were rather sweet to one another and I love how she played Fa Man as someone that went through so much hell and yet could be the voice of reason, even if she was seeking revenge. I feel Grace Wong should have been the leading lady in this series because her Fa Man is so significant to this story, without her, there is no A Fist Within Four Walls. Fans of Grace Wong should seriously watch this for her.

Moon Lau
Moon LauShe was another actress whom I feel should have won Most Improved Actress in TVB awards. I couldn’t believe this was the same actress I saw in other series where she wasn’t wooden, but I never paid much attention to. Her Audrey could have been very annoying; I quite imagine if this series was made a decade ago or earlier, this role would probably be played by a young Charmaine Sheh or Shirley Yeung, neither I believe could have made Audrey not annoying. Because Audrey is supposed to be so sweet that you find her annoying. That’s TVB’s dictum in every series; Mary Sues I believe. But Moon manages to make her spunky, likable, lovable and god forbid, cute! Very very enjoyable performance but drama wise, she could work on her crying scenes where she squints a lot; a bad habit to me.

The Rest
Yuen Qiu is Yuen Qiu. Her best scenes were with Philip Ng. No comments. So is KK Cheung.

Jonathan Cheung appeared for reasons I can’t understand why. Like Tiu Lan, his character was a surplus. Perhaps to create some tension, like a choice for Tiu Lan to make when… come on, this ain’t her story. It was so strange to see him appear and even stranger, his performance was so wooden. I wasn’t sure whether he was good guy or bad guy and frankly, you don’t need to care. He was a surplus.

Now I must comment on the 3 villains plus the Pudding Man.

What I love about this series is it gives probably the main characters in terms of villains to secondary actors who some I frankly do not know their names but I have seen them. You would expect a more famous face but that’s where this series excels; it offers a chance to these actors to show their capabilities in a different way. Much like how it was in Three Kingdoms RPG, where that was a necessity since there weren’t enough famous faces to fill so many roles. In fact it was Three Kingdoms RPG which I refer to everytime I need to know the names of some obscure secondary actor because I sort of listed all the names of almost everyone in that series and deservingly so. Three Kingdoms RPG became my encyclopedia of secondary actors’ name, one of whom is in here playing a very prominent role.

I think Oscar Li played the pervert very well. Not much comment. Vincent Lam was also very convincing in his fighting scenes and looking like he is always high on drugs. I am happy that Au Sui Wai is getting some love from TVB. He was convincing as the creepy villain Pudding Man except his character was not given much depth and development which is a great pity. All these 3 fought very very well, including KK who were all convincing and worthy adversaries to our heroes.

However the one deserving a huge praise is Carlo Ng. I would never guess him as a kung fu fighting super scary supremely calm villain but he was very very convincing in both. I will say of all the villans his Fung Chun Mei was most fleshed out although we hardly know his background, just enough to go on. A pity he hardly had a costume change but I think he gave an amazing performance and a special recognition award given to him at the recent TVB awards was most deserving although he deserved the Best Supporting Actor because that was what he was. I do think Raymond Cho could also nail this character if he was given a chance. But what a surprise to see Carlo Ng nailing this.

Oh how I hated the story. The more accolades, the more I hated it. But as I wrote this review, something I haven’t done in a long while, I was ready to criticize and not see any good in it. however on reflection I see the good as well; how this series was the shining moment for secondary actors who deserved this breakout chance. For the performances of Grace Wong and Carlo Ng alone, this for me is highly recommended. But if you feel no love for this sort of genre, or you can’t stand another bad role for Ruco and another series with Nancy, perhaps give this a miss. There are better series with Ruco Chan in it. As a fan of Ruco Chan, I can’t bring myself to recommend this series. Don’t watch this for Ruco because Ruco deserves better than this half baked character.


This review is written by Funn Lim, a Contributor at JayneStars.com and was originally posted at www.point2e.com.

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  1. What a stupid review… I fell asleep after 10 secs… waste of time and poorly written.. go back to school to learn how to write pls

    1. @jingxi2943 I agree with you, I never like this poster’s reviews. The poster may be popular here but I tend to not agree with most of his/her point of view.

      Either way, -9 for bad writing/analyzing and harshness. +1 for effort.

      1. @monokuroboo I agree with you, I see so many errors in this review.

        Very bad English writing… very disappointed!

        Please learn how to write in English before posting your Review!

        Here are your errors;
        back-story , not backstory
        organization, not organisation
        every time, not everytime
        favorite, not favourite
        kind of, not kinda
        cat suit, not catsuit
        villainess, not villaness
        eye shadow, not eyeshadow
        impetuous, not impestous
        convincing, not covincing
        interpret, not interprete
        screen time, not screentime
        aren’t, not ain’t
        villains, not villans

      2. @bluk ‘organisation’ and ‘favourite’ aren’t wrong. They’re just the British/UK preferred variant spelling.

      3. @bluk

        You are made yourself look like an idiot when trying to be clever. Most of the words you found were just the difference between the American spelling and the English version. Other words you picked out to be wrong were just connected words that aren’t important because the reader is still able to interprete what the sentence meant. For a piece of writing of that size, it is normal to have a few mistakes.

      4. @bluk Do you realize that the words you said are two different words is actually one word. E.g. backstory, eyeshadow, catsuit. Look up in Merriam-Webster for source. Besides a few legitimate typos that you pointed out, the others are either different US vs UK spelling or slangs (ain’t, kinda). The latter is acceptable in an informal writing like this. It’s hardly justify the “learn how to write in English” remark. If anything, I can nitpick your post to be improper as well. Don’t be a pot that calls a kettle black.

    2. @jingxi2943 Oh the irony of this poster telling the reviewer to go back to school.

      Yes this reviewer can be critical. I saw her harsh disdain for Line Walker in her blog and I didn’t agree with her overall. But hey we all have different opinions.

  2. 2-7, 10, 13… completely agree. I had the exact same thoughts as you. Fists was a good drama overall but the plot was really not very good (the beginning was okay, but the unveiling of the ultimate boss and his death were terrible), and only some characters that are well developed. I think it was just the fresh idea and the idol-cast that was captivating for a lot of people. Personally, I preferred House of Spirits and Over Run Over.

    1. @melia880 Was it really consider and categorize as an idol-cast? Besides Ruco, who else have a large fan base? Genuine question, not picking fight.

  3. hahaha one man’s meat is another’s poison. I showed this drama to non TVB/ Ruco fans and guess what, they were all hooked on this series. They loved it! Ruco is not undeserving of the BA, he was fully deserving IMO. Not going to quarrel over this with you, like i say diff strokes for diff folks. Cheers!

    1. @isay
      ‘Diff Strokes for diff folks’. This is the worst explanation or excuse to justify an award, I have ever heard! If you do not agree with the reviewer then at least write something constructive instead of outright reject his/her opinion.

      1. @jimmyszeto mr jimmy Szeto i’ve written enough over at the other topic where we had our “discussion “. I’ve no wish to repeat myself. Thank you for your suggestion. We shall let our “discussion “end there since we couldn’t agree on one crucial ponit. I agree with some of funn’s points such as ben’s performance, grace and Carlos were good,and the loose plot towards the end but overall i loved Fists as do many others who voted for Ruco and this drama. I said iit before and will say it again “different strokes for different folks “. Love Fist very much despite how much you hate it. You’re entitled to your opinion but so am i. Cheers to you too!

  4. Grace Wong was a surprise in here. I saw her posts on social media, and you can see that she put a lot of effort into her work.

  5. wondering how could this series won an award ? totally agreed that in 2016 so far House of Spirit is the best even it isn’t that good.

  6. Interesting points. I found AFWFW to be entertaining overall. I haven’t been keeping up to date with tvb much though.

    I agree with Fa Man being the strongest female character and having more depth. While Grace Wong is deserving of best supporting actress imo, her winning an award for favorite female character is still acceptable.

    I too found Duen Ying Fung to be more mature and reasonable vs. Kuen Lo.

    Fung Chun Mei was certainly the most chilling and ruthless out of the 3 initial villains.

    Tiu Lan’s first fight scene was impressive and added a sense of mystery over her background at first. It sort of got carried away until later on though.

    Audrey can be a bit naive sometimes imo but she does have a strong stance on her beliefs.

    Like most people, I found Fa Man and Lung Sing Fu’s deaths to be fairly shocking.

  7. In many regards, I agree with the consensus and review of this drama.

    The start of this drama was good, suspenseful, action-packed. Storyline was tight and hard to critique at the beginning. However, later on the story started unraveling onto itself and plot became twisted and incoherent. I blame the director. He was also responsible for the demise of a potentially great drama “Line Walker.” He cared a lot about making a drama receptive during the start, but once it got its bang, he quickly jumps ship and allow it to sink. I am assuming the same setup towards his new project with Ruco & Nancy.

    The only great thing in my mind with this drama was the breakout/breakthrough cast. Impeccable casting and good choices, if not odd by TVB standards. Grace Wong alone was a great find as Fa Man. The same goes for Carlo Ng as Fung Chung Mei. I lurved Phillip Ng & Moon Lau as the star-crossed lovers. Many people didn’t like Phillip because he was stiff. I argued that that was his role; he’s supposed to be like that. Vincent Lam & KK Cheung are old favorites of course, nothing can taint their veteran status. Ruco is well known as a good actor and while I do think his role here required some range and believable acting skills, I didn’t think his role was developed enough to win anything. If we’re going by strictly acting skills, Roger Kwok deserves this award by a landslide. So I have nothing to comment in regards to his role here. Same for Nancy. They were at best, a cordial and fun couple, but I didn’t feel the chemistry.

  8. Also those who are veteran TVB watchers or any long-term drama seekers will definitely know a quality drama from one that’s mediocre. It takes a lot more than good casting to impress us. This one is definitely mediocre. It had great potential, but alas, met a tepid end.

    1. @coralie From one veteran TVB watcher to another: well-said and absolutely agreed!

      Unfortunately, “quality” is not something TVB cares about nowadays. Why should they care when they’re still making billions of dollars every year with their unchallenged monopoly?

      Anyone want to bet that AFWFW will get a movie spinoff one of these days, just like Line Walker did despite being a mediocre series? That seems to be the pattern with TVB nowadays with their popular series and I’m sure Shaw Bros would back them up (since same company after all). Fair warning though before any fans get excited about their idols becoming movie stars — if it does happen, 99% guaranteed that the cast will get changed out in favor of REAL movie stars…

    2. @coralie Completely agree with you. There have been many dramas with high popularity that have terrible storylines.. and many dramas with little popularity or news that are very good. Drama quality is much more than just cast, and anyone who’s watched years and years of TVB knows what is a really good drama and what is just a “hyped” (but mediocre) drama.

  9. I agree with this review. This show started off really good and exciting but then in the middle or so it started to get very annoying. Ruco was good but not breakthrough imo.

    As for people who complain about the writing. Take a chill pill people. This is a blog and she is volunteering her time for this. If you don’t like what she wrote, just don’t read it. As long as people get the gist of what she is writing its no big deal. Not everyone can write well!

    1. Totally agree with happybi. If you don’t like Funn’s writing, don’t read her reviews. There is no need to criticize her English, spelling and writing styles. Spelling wise ………… she is using English spelling vs. people here may prefer American spelling. Both are correct and acceptable anywhere in the world. There is no need to be so rude and critical.

      Funn has spent lots of time in writing her long reviews, and I think she did it for free.

      If you people are interested in doing same, you can submit your own reviews to Jayne for us to share.

      1. @orchid123 Yes I agree people are being a little too harsh on nitpicking on her careless small mistakes in her writing. There is nothing wrong with the way how she spelled some of the words, it’s just different English spelling and is not incorrect in any way. I’m Canadian myself and I always spell favourite as favourite and not favorite. It’s just a personal preference of which spelling the writer prefers and like better. Personally I like favourite more than favorite.

        And given the fact that this review is so long and lengthy, it is inevitable that she may have made a few typos here and there. Or it could be simply just autocorrect which is a very common error nowadays. We’re all humans and sometimes it could be just mistakes made due to lack of sleep, tiredness, etc from writing and typing. There’s no need to criticize so harshly on small things like that.

      2. @janice Totally agree. I live in Canada and I also spell “favourite” with “u” and “organization” with “z” instead of “s”. There is nothing wrong with it. As a matter of fact, I think most people spell them this way except the people in the States.

      3. @orchid123 It just annoys me that I find when people disagree on something, the first thing people do are attack the other spelling or grammars. Just not cool.

    2. @happybi I honestly believe people are ‘attacking’ her writing style mainly because she was pretty critical of AFWFW, didn’t give it 4 or 5 stars and didn’t share a popular opinion.

      1. @kirigiri If Funn gave “Dead Wrong” a 3-star rating, I am not surprised that “AFWFW” had a 2-star rating from her. I personally think “Dead Wrong” was a better drama series in terms of script, acting, and cast. Perhaps Funn has higher expectations from the current TVB drama series.

      2. @kirigiri That is exactly what’s happening. If she gave it a 4 or 5 stars, I doubt they’ll be attacking her writing then. Not cool. People just need to agree to disagree and call it a day.

      3. @happybi @kirigiri Haha, yup…when I saw those comments attacking Funn’s writing, that was the first thing that came to my mind too. They’re probably fans of the main artists or the series who couldn’t bear to hear their faves being described as anything less than perfect. If they feel THAT strongly that Funn was wrong, why don’t they do something constructive, like submit their own review of the series and refute every single one of her points rather than sit there and nitpick her spelling and grammar?

        @funn: Great job on the review! Thorough, informative, and good analysis as usual!

      4. @llwy12 Funn is a big fan of Ruco Chan. I think she was just being honest in commenting Ruco’s acting in “AFWFW”. She thought Ruco could have done a much better job than the role he did in the drama series.

        I totally agree with you “If they feel THAT strongly that Funn was wrong, why don’t they do something constructive, like submit their own review of the series and refute every single one of her points rather than sit there and nitpick her spelling and grammar?”. That is what I suggested in my earlier post.

      5. @orchid123

        I agree that most of us are Ruco fans. Some of us are just judging on his acting per series he has appeared in. However there are hardcore Ruco fans who have a crush on him so any slightly negative comment towards Ruco, they will attack.

      6. @jimmyszeto I agree, i would consider myself as a “hardcore Ruco fan”. AFWFW wasn’t my favorite drama of Ruco, and I would rate it a 3/5. His acting was pretty good, just expected a bit better. I know he spent a lot of time training, but it’s the acting part. I’d say he clutched BA this year.. Just my opinion.

  10. Gotta agreed that Fa Man should be lead female character and they should tell more of her backstory. She is def my fav character and Grace has always been my fav actress.

  11. This critic has more grammar than spelling issues, I reckon. Also, it should be “Natalie Tong” that guest starred in the series, not ‘Natalie Wong”.

  12. Hahaha….certainly the masters and mistresses of ‘words’ residing here! Common people, it’s just a drama review!

    Honestly speaking, I learn more from mistakes than perfectly-stringed words. Get a life out there! Onegai! Pleaze!

  13. AFWFW is good but I feel that it’s wayyyyyy overhyped as well. Best drama of 2016 for me was definitely EU over run over! Exceptional performance from Vincent (Tracy had great chemistry with him too).

  14. Oooohhh i loved AFWFW. Everyone performed well, even those i thought would be irritating. Major eye openers were Carlo and Grace. Ruco was really convincing in the fighting scenes but Ben was so lame. The supporting cast was superb from gambler dad to Sam Yee Por. The only let down was pudding man twist. Still i enjoyed it more than sll the other dramas that others here have mentioned. Definitely worth many rewatchings. Recommend watching this for sure.

  15. Oh and just want to add this – i dont see what’s wrong with Kuen Lo. He’s not super suave or smart , he’s definitely not the typical TVB hero who seems to know everything before it happens. He’s a flawed character (doesn’t even trust his dad) and I’m fine with that. Give us an imperfect hero and viewers complain. Give us the predictable smartie hero and we complain. Seriously smh.

  16. It has not been a great time for Ruco lately! Firstly he gets given a uncomplicated role with which somehow he won Best Actor. Now Joel Chan is outperforming him with ease in ‘Burning Hands’.

    1. @jimmyszeto Ruco’s under-performing could be due to lethargy setting in with too many offers on his plate with his rising popularity. Ups and downs as a rising actor is the new normal, I presume.

      I think he should take the back-seat for the while to regain momentum and to ace the roles that he has been assigned to by TVB.

      1. @blest62
        I don’t think he is underperforming in this current series either. He just hasn’t had much to do while the support actors have been brilliant so far. Still early days. Plenty of time for his character to develop!

      2. @jimmyszeto Maybe it’s an entire new ball game for him in his current drama series as a swindler. Hope he will catch up fast on his role, to silence his critics out there! Go Ruco, Go!

      3. @blest62 I have to say that Joel’s character so far seems more interesting than Ruco’s in the new drama. But Ruco isn’t under-performing. It’s just that his role isn’t as interesting. I would prefer Ruco to act as a cad in this drama, someone who uses his women like Joel and casts them aside when he’s done with them. Instead we get this noble character Yat Gor who sacrifices his love just so she will be safe. That’s a big yawn and soooooooooo predictable.

      4. @isay Predictable closure….for him. I always think that director must make their noble characters having some flaws to showcase credibility. Too stereotype for Ruco that his versatilty might not shine through.

        In AFWFW, I was hoping for some bad patches between Kuen Lo (Boxer) and Tiu Lan after the secrets were out in the course of the plot but it was too smooth sailing as in the case of being expected and predictable. Yes..Boxer turns loose on his senses by being in the dumps or lowest points in his life but fresh ideas of losing his purpose in life should be forthcoming from the producer.

      5. @isay @blest62

        The chemistry between Ruco and Joel has been excellent. In fact the whole group of swindlers have been good. The real test of their acting skills will come when Joel turns evil or when Ruco comes directly for father’s revenge.I don’t feel anything for Ruco and Rosina’s relationship though but can feel the hurt and pain between Joel and Kelly. Can’t wait till top notch actor Hugo Ng to reappear!

      6. @jimmyszeto Are we in the wrong place yakking about ‘Burning Hands’ instead of ‘AFWFW’?

        I never really think Ruco and Rosina will make a compatible love item on the drama screen. Solely my view but I stand corrected definitely. Will need a long holidays to truly sample ‘Burning Hands’ so right now I am ‘inhaling’, so to speak, your views, opinions and perspectives of the drama. Thanks loads.

        I see more of Hugo Ng making his appearances in dramas these days. His role is usually evil personified, and he is super-duper good, if not excellent at it!

      7. @blest62
        Hugo Ng will be in a comedy later on this year. He should be able to pull it off because I think he’s the best contracted actor TVB have right now.

      8. @jimmyszeto Really second your point! A veteran actor like a vintage car!

        TVB certainly needs to recall some of its best actors of yesteryears to stay afloat.

  17. I think the review is a very fair reflection of the performances and the series itself. The only thing I might add is that I think Benjamin has slightly improved as an actor.It is quite obvious that the reviewer is in a clear and neutral frame of mind when watching the series and writing the review. Respect to that!

  18. Kuen Low and Tiu Lan could’ve been written out and the story still stands. Have Ruco play Nga Low role of course. If bromance they want, turn Fa Man character into a guy and have Ruco play a savvy pimp. Tiu Lan can still be written out. That still leaves Benjamin though. He was the weakest performer from both main and support casts. His role was pretty damn critical too until (as Funn said) they suddenly remember that Ruco is suppose to be the lead so quick, shift the focus on him now thay we have 5 episodes left xD

    1. @jjwong Like your say on the swapping of roles for the characters in AFWFW. Food for thought for AFWFW on the silver screen!

      Boxer & Tiu Lan’s characters to be thrown out of the window? The drama will lose its colours and steam, and hence its fan-dom, if I may call it. What I see is that in a crime-infested place like the Walled City, not too hard for love to blossom as demonstrated by the 3 pairs of love birds.

      1. @blest62 I see it differently. They demonstarated that love, various kind, can and has blossomed in the Walled City. There are: mother/son, bro/bro (2 villains guys), father/daughter, stable husband/wife (the one with a kid), social status (Moon and Phillip), elderly respect (Benjiman and the disciples). Then there are two pairs that are similar, if not tbe same, romance Ben/Grace and Ruco/Nancy. Both pairs have vastly different mindset and mentally on either side who see each other flaws, forgive and forget and fall in love. Nancy/Grace have the shady, dark path. Both done illegal things to survive. Ruco/Ben are righteous, stand up for the weak and want world peace. I just think if they combined this two pairs, they’ll get more developed, flushed out, and deeper with much more impact and memorable romantic love. The series will still have it’s color and steam if one of the two pairings is taken out; whether if Kuen Low/Tiu Lan or Nga Low/Fa Man. I just prefer the latter pair’s set up more. Fa Man seems to have much nore interesting backstory; one that we didn’t get to see…

        If they do a movie though , they’re more likely to add more couples and redundant couples instead of taking it out. Ha!

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