Review: “Always and Ever” (By Funn)

By on September 25, 2013 in NEWS, REVIEWS

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Always and Ever <情逆三世緣>
Hong Kong TVB Drama 2013

Producer: Chong Wai Kin
Genre: Romance, Fantasy
Episodes: 31

“They (Bobby and Esther) made this series and watch it for them. Such magic is difficult to find nowadays so grab some of it whilst you still can.”

Direct Translation of Title

Probably “A Love Story Spanning Three Lifetimes”

Cast:

Bobby Au Yeung – Circle Yuen Kam Cheong, Justice Pao, Wah Lung Biu
Esther Kwan – Phoenix Yeung Jik Suet, Hon Sheung Sheung, Tin Tsau Fung
Pierre Ngo – Yuen Kwai, Yuen Sai Sam
Ben Wong – Ko Kai Onn
Mandy Wong – Tin Tsau Ngan
Rebecca Zhu – Lam Yim Fong
Derek Kwok – Cho Pau
Cheung Kwok Keung – Emperor
Ram Cheung – Mr Gongsun
Benjamin Yuen – Chin Chiu, Chin Chiu Yan
Christine Kuo – Princes Hing Sau
JJ Jia – Consort Yin
Vivien Yeo – Consort Sook
Sammy Shum – Lau Chuen
Cheng Chi Seng – Unknown
And many more.

Synopsis:
Taken from Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Always_and_Ever

The drama follows a love story which spans three lifetimes, from Song China in the 13th Century to Hong Kong in the 1950s and to modern Hong Kong (modern era) between Yuen Kam Cheong and his soul transported into various bodies and that of his one true love in 3 incarnations. She is meant to die due to her most loved unless the curse is lifted.

The Real Story:
Major spoilers alert.


Quite simply, Yuen Kam Cheong, modern policeman accidentally shoots his fiance Phoenix, a reporter during a raid in a warehouse where his soul is suddenly transported back to 13th century Song Dynasty and into the body of the famous Justice Pao. As Justice Pao investigates mysterious cases, he meets again his beloved, except she is now a gifted female scholar by the name of Hon Sheung Sheung. Once again he falls for her and she falls for him but their love is hindered by the devious Ko Kai Onn, who is Hon Sheung Sheung’s “si hing”. Due to many circumstances, Sheung Sheung herself creats the curse of 3 lifetimes which will bind both her and Circle. True to her own curse, she dies at the order of Circle, who then left Justice Pao’body and jumps into the body of the most corrupted cop in HK, the Inspector Wah Lung Biu in the 1950s where he will meet some familiar faces, one of whom is his beloved again, this time an older married woman by the name of Tin Tsau Fung who is married to the respected gangster who at the beginning is missing and feared murdered by Inspector Wah himself. Through many trials and tribulations, they fall for one another but alas, Tsau Fung’s devious sister Tsau Ngan causes many difficulties and Circle himself loses his own memory one day as he rescues Tsau Fung from a burning building. In the end Tsau Fung once again losses her life due to a choice made by Circle and this time Circle returns to the modern time as himself but before the first death occurs. He now believes he has a chance to rectify things with Phoenix who makes an important revelation, but Circle’s happiness is short lived as one day after an accident he wakes up with an even mind boggling revelation to which he is unable to accept the truth.

Can Phoenix and Circle finally rid their curse of 3 lifetimes?

Short answer is yes but not in ways that you and I can predict if you even follow this series closely.

Comments:
Always and Ever 1After a long drought of a good drama series, I was so looking forward to this series purely because it boasted the magical pairing of Bobby Au Yeung and Esther Kwan, both of whom I have not seen on screen for quite some time individually, more so together. They have always had that chemistry and TVB itself is banking on that. The story on paper sounded rather morbid and tiring; imagine, same woman, 3 lifetimes, died in the hands of the same man. How exciting? I didn’t feel excited. But I watched, every night and somewhere along the way I thought this could have been Bullet Brain except Bullet Brain was a disaster from the get go due to its confusing identity; comedy, drama, dramedy, comdrama, what?! Always And Ever did not have that confusion as to identity, in fact it was pretty sure of what it was, the only problem is the mechanics of it.

Say for example;

You have a car and you’re driving the car from point A to point B. If you reach point B safely, the car has done its duty. But being a smart aleck, you begin to question; how does the car go from point A to point B? By gas? By petrol? By electricity? Manpower? Legpower? That is because you know you are in a car but you’re not sure what runs it. But if you’re those type that doesn’t ask much, then it is fine. But if you’re those who wonders, you will be very confused, more so when your car seems to have a gas tank, a normal petrol tank, some peddles and a electricity metre.

That is basically how Always And Ever is, at least to me. If you don’t question much, you are in for a fun and sometimes morbid ride. But if you begin to question, that’s when all things fall apart. Not Bullet Brain style to the point you can’t reconcile anything and nothing makes sense. Always And Ever isn’t as confusing as that but it is confusing because the series does not explain the mechanics, you just assume it is correct and just go with it. If I had done an episodic thought on this, I think every episode I will have an X-File section; the unexplained. This is a fantasy series but even fantasy series are bound by a certain rule of logic, if you know what I mean. Everything is possible only if it is probable and it is only probable only if you can see a certain logic in it, even if it is about reincarnation, time travel and what nots. Basically this series does not even attempt to explain. It just shows the story and whilst on paper it is a morbid story, in the series itself, it is very very morbid. After all, same soul, different appearance of a woman gets killed by her true love, same soul, different appearance. How happy can that be?

Well, TVB made sure every death thereafter is succeeded by the soul of our hero traveling to another life in another lifetime which inadvertently is accompanied by some very lighthearted music. My confusion started at episode 1 itself. Right after Phoenix got shot and died in the arms of Circle, he got transported back to Song Dynasty and into Justice Pao and immediately, funny cute moments. It was so inappropriate. Same thing happened when Sheung Sheung was beheaded and immediately Circle’s soul again is transported to that of Wah Lung Biu in the 1950s and some funny stuff happened. Same thing happened when poor Tsau Fung died in the arms of Circle, and he was transported back to modern world into his own body and darn it! Cue some cute music. By that time I was in the state of utter confusion, not really because of the strange choice of music but rather the entire theory of it.

You have to hear me out on this because this or these will make or break this series.

It is very obvious Circle’s soul was transported into Justice Pao. Because when he left Justice Pao, there is a short but quite a good scene of Mr Gongsun explaining to Justice Pao the several weeks of weird behaviour and we see a super serious Justice Pao juxtaposed with the familiar Justice Pao theme song. So it is settled that it was his soul that got transported in and out of some lives. And yet in the 1950s story, Tsau Fung thought that by having Circle kill her, Circle will leave that life and back to modern life and so he can take Tsau Ngan along so she can have her illness cured in modern world. Now that is confusing isn’t it? So is it soul or person? At some point in the Song Dynasty this was touched upon as well and frankly by the 1950s story, I just say what the heck, go with it! Ride with the flow dude. Worse still, Circle never once said to either woman (Tsau Fung or the despicable Tsau Ngan) that “Hey, you can’t go with me since my SOUL is leaving not my PERSON and I am not walking through a PORTAL”.

There was also a tiny issue of Circle’s reaction to each lifetime’s death. I mean sure the poor guy didn’t even have time to mourn and got transported but seriously, shouldn’t he cry or something for like the next few minutes? It seems he readily accepts that same looking woman as the reincarnation of his beloved. No question asked.

And even the issue of reincarnation is pretty confusing. The first time he got transported to Song Dynasty and see Sheung Sheung, of course he was confused and thought she was Phoenix. Sometimes he said she was Phoenix but can’t remember her life as Phoenix and somewhere along the way he said she was Sheung Sheung, Phoenix’s previous lifetime. Now if it is the former, then it is even more confusing; did Phoenix travelled back in time with him? But then even if her soul travelled back in time, everyone knows her as Sheung Sheung and she remembered her life with the Ko family. So how can she be Phoenix? If it is the latter, obviously she wouldn’t remember her life as Phoenix since she has yet to live through it and yet Circle at times act as if she should remember but she can’t remember. Frankly I was like way out in state of confusion at that point.

Even if you discard on the confusing reasoning of is she Phoenix or not, come 1950s suddenly our heroine remembers her past life! But at least she didn’t say she remembers her future, at least I think she didn’t. Because obviously she can’t remember her future since she has yet to live it. Same dilemma, you see?

The worst, absolute worst had to be for the short time in 1950s Circle lost his memory and he was as mean as the Wah Lung Biu reportedly was. Oh he was dastardly. Made for some fine dramatic moments. However he suddenly remembered he was Circle. And how he remembered? I don’t know. He just did! And when he remembered, it was not some major revelations or a huge groan of what an arse he was to Tsau Fung. He just sighed and that was it. I mean come on!! That’s so unfair! I wanna see him have some inner turmoil and I suspect any inner turmoil as to his behaviour got edited in the editing room. By that time I was not just confused, I was furious.

But the stupidest had to be this; Circle in the modern time had an accident and he woke up and lo and behold, he saw a scar on his chest in the shape of an infinity symbol (or maybe a bow as in bow tie) and that was the same birth mark which Ko Kai Onn had and to which (major spoilers!) Tsau Ngan had so Tsau Ngan was Ko’s reincarnation and that man had like 1000 year of hatred buried deep in his soul. I mean it is clever, sort of to show Circle having some doubt, whether he was actually Ko and Tsau Ngan’s reincarnation and so there was the dilemma. But come on! He took off that cotton thing and inside that so called birthmark had stitches on it. So obviously someone created that birth mark. That to me was the most unconvincing twist in the plot, ever. At that point I was confused, furious and literally gave up figuring things out.

I mean whatever you want to show me, oh just show me. Luckily that was the last episode, so it can be more than that.

BUT WAIT! Got!

We discover another twist; Tsau Ngan didn’t die; she in fact survived her deadly illness by some miracle that we don’t know how and lived till modern times. Of course if you have paid attention when Circle left Wah Lung Biu’s body, you will see in end credits Tsau Ngan married Wah Lung Biu and was pregnant, although she was sorta blurred a bit in the background. Kinda obvious.

And then like full circle, I will come back to the curse of 3 lifetimes. You see, Ko wanted to hurt Justice Pao aka Circle and Sheung Sheung made a promise; she will not love him nor be with him, if not she will be killed by her most loved for 3 lifetimes. Hence Phoenix (bang!), Sheung Sheung (chop!) and Tsau Fung (crash!) and back to Phoenix (bang! bang!). Circle theorise the only way to defeat the curse is to somehow find a way to beat it when he was back in modern times.

But look at the numbers.

3 lifetimes, right? Phoenix died, Sheung Sheung died and Tsau Fung died. Back to before Phoenix’s death. Isn’t that 3 lifetimes plus the surplus of one? Shouldn’t when he returned the curse lifted? Oh so unfair!

The logic and maths itself will get you confused.

But some characters will get you boiling.

In the modern time, it took me a while to get into rhythm at seeing Bobby as Circle and Esther as Phoenix. In fact I find those names pretentious but then by the end of this series, I vowed to name my child the cool name, Circle. Seriously, rather cool name. Towards the end though it was draggy even with the plot twists.

In the Song Dynasty, I was shocked by the inept attitude of Justice Pao. Under him, I think got at least 3 unexplained deaths. I was expecting dark clouds and strange winds every time such things happened. Did he solve that at last? Not really. I was also frustrated by the stupidity of Sheung Sheung when she betrayed Circle because she loved him. Urghhh! But in the end I really enjoyed the Song Dynasty story and was saddened it ended so soon.

Always and Ever Mandy WongIn the 1950s, which is the longest in terms of story and to me quite eventful even if draggy, I hated Tsau Ngan. Oh I want to throttle her especially when she kept saying “It was your fault, if father didn’t save you first when we were trapped in the rubble, I didn’t have to suffer” and after a while I was as frustrated with Tsau Fung’s “I know you suffered, let me help you, let me make amends”. Both sisters’ as crazy in their own ways. Believe me, Tsau Ngan will be the new hate object in your life. And I hate how so much time is devoted to her torturing her own sister, I felt like those scenes were dragging this series down by that time. I also find it funny how most part were about how Cho Pau tried to wrestle the control of the traid gang from Tsau Fung and then he died an uneventful death; shot by Tsau Ngan who never loved him and she confessed but he died before he heard her. I thought death was kinder to him than Tsau Ngan ever was. And seriously, I pitied Cho Pau. Twisted isn’t it?

There were the side stories of other characters which I didn’t mind. Because they were related. From the pitiful backstory of Mr Gongsun and his tearful reunion with his only daughter, Consort Yin in the Song Dynasty, Circle and his relationship with his father, Yuen Kwai (and made more memorable with the fack that in modern times, Yuen Kwai was senile and remembered only the past and not his own son) and in modern times, it came full circle with Tsau Ngan, her son, Phoenix and Circle. Conveniently, and very very conveniently, Phoenix remembers her past 2 lifetimes. Yeah, she does. So convenient. Conveniently, Tsau Ngan in the end didn’t feel good having shot Phoenix, TWICE. Phoenix of course still in the Tsau Fung mode you see.

And that’s when the story gets uneven.

I was hoping to see Tsau Ngan crying and truly repenting. After all, it was 1000 years in the making, or at least 60 years in the making. This series robbed Tsau Ngan of that moment, the writers robbed Mandy of that moment to make that final amend. To have Tsau Ngan seen forgiveness and in her own way forgive the tragic lovers and so show the curse actually lifted. None of those and I felt what a big moment lost. All we have is Circle telling Phoenix what that woman did. What a potentially great moment eh? All lost!

But not all is lost in terms of tearful moving moments. Like the Mr Gongsun and her daughter, one other scene stood out, not because of acting but the idea behind it.

We all know Circle’s dad raised him. But what of the mother? Of course along the way like Circle we discover who his mother is. Problem is Circle doesn’t seem too emotional with his mother, again that is understandable considering she walked out of the family when he was a baby. Her mother, Fong Fong was selfish and materialistic. But the twist to this sad sad woman is even worse; her husband gave her his blessing for her to pursue her career in ballet in Russia. So she didn’t walk out. But why didn’t she come back? Well I shall let you discover that for yourself. It was such a sad moment, that final reunion between Kwai and Fong, the final dance and the final goodbye, separated by more than 30 years. I thought that was unnecessarily cruel of the writers. I mean I care about these characters and I hate that a blameless character should suffer whilst Tsau Ngan, she didn’t exactly suffered did she? But I was more shocked at how Circle reacted to the reason why his mother never came back until now. I mean come on, we need more emotion here! We need more tears! We need more guilt!! Any guilt was fleeting. It wasn’t enough!

I will of course emphasise on certain things that is worth mentioning and I haven’t done this in my review for some time. So here goes;

BEST MOMENT, EVER
This is when Sheung Sheung outsmarted Ko Kai Onn and she killed him, in her own special way. Must be seen to be believed and he deserved it. I love how he died. Very very clever!

WORST MOMENT, EVER
Why Sheung Sheung had to be beheaded. I see no logic in that. And the emperor, completely and utterly useless. He could have stopped it and he just stood there or sat there like some statue. No wonder the kingdom fell later on.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT
I love the fact that this series incorporated some small gestures which to me speaks a lot of it being an ensemble cast. In the final episode as Circle rushes Phoenix to the hospital, he will encounter people he had known in the past lives and that was fun to watch! I loved how each character just show up and they’re lookalikes, not those people and they’re no longer good or bad or vengeful but just characters that appear in this lifetime. A nice touch. I also love how the series ended in the first ending; a drama series is made of Circle and Phoenix’s love stories and we see the same cast in costume and ended with a group picture. I thought that was a fantastic ending, except the writer had to spoil it with the cheesiest ending ever!

Anyway I must also mention those small scenes as to what happened to certain characters when Circle left the body; like Justice Pao and Wah Lung Bit. At least it sorta answered some questions. But of course it doesn’t answer this question; if Circle left his own body, what then happened to his own body back in modern times?

WORST MEMORABLE MOMENT
It was memorable since it was the end but the final ending or I shall call the 2nd ending had Circle and Phoenix’s baby walking into some transporter (there was this huge stone, I forgot the name which had this ability to transport Circle back in time, except remember, it was his soul not the person) and was being transported and it ended with Circle and Phoenix running after their baby son.

Why worst?

1. Remember, transport the soul NOT the person? This one was person. Huh?

2. Isn’t that stone the fake stone? I mean used for filming? Huh?

3. Why? WHY end that way? Whyyyyyyyy??

MOST INCONSISTENT MOMENT
As per above plus one more; all along Kwai always said he wanted to name his son Yuen Kam Cheong. Ending scene of Wah Lung Biu’s story we see he and Fong has a son and he says “Wait wait.. I think I will name him… YUEN KAM CHEONG!”

Huh? Didn’t he said he will like many many times before? Is there a reboot to the timeline I did not know about?

MOST CONFUSING MOMENT
As per above plus many many more I never mentioned. I wish I can name them all. But half the fun for the viewer is to discover such things. So I shall let you decide which was the most confusing moment. I think even Bobby and Esther at times were confused but went with the flow.

MOST FAVOURITE PAIR
Who else? Love love Bobby and Esther. I also love Bobby and Pierre. Also love Bobby and Ram. In fact Bobby and “fill in the space”. Except of course…

MOST HATED PERSON
Tsau Ngan, has the distinction of being worse than Ko Kai Onn. At least Ko Kai Onn was love sick. What was her excuse? Oh yeah the most overused sentence. I shall not repeat here. Ohhhhh I hate her!

REPEAT IT! REPEAT IT TILL DEATH!!
Whatever Tsau Ngan says, her hatred, her anger. Apart from that, those very few modern flashback scenes Circle has of Phoenix when in Song Dynasty and 1950s, especially that proposal scenes. Rather repeated to death!

WORST INJUSTICE EVER
Poor poor Fong Fong. Such an unnecessary story for her character.

WHO DOES CIRCLE LOVED MOST
Sheung Sheung? Tsau Fung? Phoenix? All 3 women with same soul but different personalities. Frankly I will say Tsau Fung. She caused him the most hurt in her own selfish way; she repeatedly showed favour for Tsau Ngan and Circle repeatedly forgave her. He also married her. But that is moot point. This series never ever answered that question, or even asked it.

PERFORMANCES EVALUATED
BOBBY AU YEUNG
I love Bobby Au Yeung. He is such a charismatic actor, he can open a series, he can close a series, he can carry a series. Yes, he is not the world’s best actor, in fact some scenes where he is supposed to be dramatic he ended up looking comedic, unintentionally. But this man knows how to work it with his colleagues. Pierre Ngo, Mandy Wong, Rebecca Zhu, Sammy Shum and even Esther Kwan are only so good because of Bobby. He has a way of making his co-stars shine, and he is a generous actor; he is able to share the limelight and the screentime without sucking away the attention nor giving away any attention. You may not believe this; he started out a very serious dramatic actor, somewhere along the way he was in comedies and sometime later back to semi serious dramatic mode which I feel suits him the best. Whilst he is cute and funny, his best moments were as Wah Lung Biu who lost his memory; his unapologetic way of treating Esther’s Tsau Fung was an eye opener for Bobby the actor. I also love those scenes where he cried when he knew Tsau Fung had once again used him, he felt hurt. I felt those were his best acting moments, the tears and all I thought Bobby had improved so much but the truth is it is in Bobby’s innate ability to portray despicable or arrogant characters. He is and always has been a better serious drama actor rather than a lighthearted comedy actor. This series will pit him in ways many actors will relish the opportunity; so many characters, so many situations. He faltered here and there, more probably due to editing but you know, I love Bobby so in the end those to me were minor issues.

ESTHER KWAN
Always and Ever Bobby Au Yeung Esther KwanThis is like a goldmine of a character for any actress and not many can portray different characters consistently. Esther had it more difficult than Bobby since she is supposed to be 3 different characters even with the same soul or reincarnation. She was cool and easy as Phoenix, soft smart and elegant as Sheung Sheung and hard but loving and desperate as Tsau Fung. She breaths life into each character and manages to be different each time. Set them all together side by side and I believe she will convince she is different in each character, like a set of triplets. The script sometimes failed her but she doesn’t disappoint in terms of acting. This woman is 49 and whilst at times she looked tired, she never once looked over 40. Her skin is flawless, her hair is thick and lustrous, she is slim and her eyes bright. Her only flaw is the way she talks at times when in modern world; it sounded like a woman in her 40s. But once she grew accustomed to the characters, I actually thought she looked more and more beautiful. Of course she is not as young as her characters are but I thought she was gorgeous when she dressed as the princess Sheung Sheung. It is like she never ever age. Other younger actresses look much older than her. Make no mistake, she is a woman in her 40s no doubt but when you look at her, you can believe she is not yet 40. But the best is her ability to cry convincingly and in many different ways as different characters. Esther to me is the reigning acting queen of TVB but alas, no one will recognise that. What a pity. If anyone deserves any recognition, Esther is on top of the list. And she proves it in this performance(s).

PIERRE NGO
The problem with Pierre Ngo is he was unconvincing as a really old man. The thing is when the last scene showed him as old man and then the next as a young man again, I was kinda struck by how handsome he is, in that particular scene. He is a competent actor but I dislike how similar this is to No Regrets, the way he talked, the way he behaved. But disregarding that, and disregarding the script that failed him, he was fantastic as Yuen Kwai/Yuen Sai Sam even if he really is very unconvincing as a really old man.

REBECCA ZHU
Always and Ever Rebecca ZhyWhatever character she plays, I will end up hating her. Why? I don’t know. She is very pretty in here, and she is slightly better here than in Triumph In The Skies II. I did not like her Fong Fong but I felt if there is any moment she did exceptionally well, it was the final scene. She may not be convincing as a really old woman but that final scene almost had me in tears. That was her moment and she did well. But the beginning, when her character discouraged Kwai from joining the rallies for anti-corruption in the force, I was confused with her performance; I know in the script she discouraged him because she loved him. But her performance was as if he was inconveniencing her with his choices; I never felt she loved him at all. Rebecca was very inadequate throughout but hopefully she can learn consistency by observing Esther. There is hope in this actress but I am not sure I have the patience in waiting for that end result.

MANDY WONG
I know she has a lot of fans, she is like Nancy Wu with her friends crying injustice because she should be promoted. Well if there’s any consolation, Nancy Wu’s fans have more cause to cry injustice since Mandy has been given big roles even if not 100% leading roles. She is at least not someone’s wife, someone’s girlfriend, someone’s mistress or someone’s sister which Nancy has the honour of being. Mandy has a huge role in this series and her character is one that you will hate. I am not sure if it is a breakthrough performance but I am sure her fans will be pleased. However I personally do not feel she did well, nor did I feel she did ok. I thought she was terrible. I do not like how she talks as if she is giving a class on the Cantonese way of speaking words, I do not like how badly written her character is (sometimes straight out evil, sometimes not that bad) although that is really not her fault. She has to work around the material. I do not like how reserved she is. At least Nancy Wu can let go and go all out, much like how Tavia Yeung can. Mandy to me feels like she is holding back, even in a character that doesn’t hold back. This is not her best performance. Her best performance has yet to arrive or if you’re optimistic, has yet to come but maybe will one day. I feel there is hope in this actress to be far better but the problem is whatever is holding her back is not helping her at all.

BEN WONG
A fantastic creepy performance of a hated creepy guy. I love his ending. I love his every expression, every intonation, every creepy stare at poor poor Esther as Sheung Sheung, like he is about to devour her. I believe he is younger than her? Wow, Esther, so young looking. I can still remember his role as the ultimate good guy in Kindred Spirits but wow, this man has some inner meanness which he unleashed in here. Absolutely convincing performance, a tad like how he was in Safe Guards. But I do feel his best work was in Safe Guards. That was his breakthrough performance.

SAMMY SUM
He is fast becoming one of my most favourite actor to watch in TVB universe. I am however afraid he may find leading roles in movies more than in TVB itself. He has such a chameleon-like appearance. Colour his hair and he can be a triad member. Comb his hair nicely without that moustache or goatee and he can be a professional, like lawyer, doctor, architect. He can play both the low life (as in this series) or professional (also in this series). He can be the nice guy or the bad guy. He is also handsome in a unique way. And he can act BUT if there is any limitation it is the fact that he has more chameleon like look than an ability to act in a chameleon like way. But that can be corrected by practice and more roles. To me he is charismatic and I am eager to watch what he is in next. I am not a movie fan but I think he can have quite an impact in TV world, if he is given the chance. And that chance can be earned if he acts well. Thus far acting is admittedly weak but he has a plus point; boat loads of charisma.

BENJAMIN YUEN
One word; wooden. The worst Chin Chiu, ever.

CHRISTINE KUO
Poor girl had her voice dubbed, bonus to viewers I suppose but I’d rather listen to her original voice. Yes the dubbing was quite good really, the voice sorta suited her but it was so weird. I don’t mind her accent really but in some ways the dubbing helped with her performance which was at best ok. She looks very pretty in ancient costume, if given better budget, I think she will look smashing in Tang Dynasty costume or Han dynasty. She has the beautiful but mournful serious look of those women in the past. I mean give her a guitar, let her strum it and she can be one of those tragic Chinese beauties. But alas, unlike Sammy Shum who can act and can be better and is riding on his charisma, this girl however beautiful is devoid of it. I felt annoyed watching her. Maybe a trip to Mainland China will help her improve. Or maybe she was wrongly cast. But no denying, she was beautiful as the princess even if annoying.

VIVIEN YEO & JJ JIA
Vivien Yeo speaks with an accent too but I can understand her. She has improved a lot but as she improves, she gets darker and skinnier. Why?

JJ Jia however should have been that princess. Also speaks with an accent but I can understand her perfectly. I have always felt she is a real beauty in those ancient costumes. Her character in here is pitiful and she displayed some fine acting moments in those final scenes of her character, about to be beheaded (she wasn’t but I will let you discover how she died). This girl has some serious acting chops but I don’t understand why she is always cast as the older person or that one beside that one who is beside that other character. I feel she is able to convince me in her performance more than Mandy Wong could and yet here she is… wasted in her talent. She should have been Tin Tsau Ngan, she is as fair as Esther, could be sisters.

DEREK KWOK, CHEUNG KWOK KEUNG & RAM CHIANG
Derek Kwok did well as Cho Pau even if his character is pointless.

Cheung Kwok Keung didn’t do well as the emperor, more so when his character is useless.

Ram Chiang did well as Mr Gongsun although how can a super serious character act cute and funny in some situations is not something I can answer. But he is a competent actor, so no complains even if sometimes his character is confusing to me.

CHENG CHI SENG
I can’t remember his character’s name but I know the actor. It has been some time since I saw him and this guy, same look, same suit and yet he can play both the bad guy and the good guy. In this series he displayed some serious acting chops as someone with mommy issue. I can sense real fear in him. What did Mandy do to him?! Anyway fantastic performance even if a short one.

OTHER CHARACTERS/ACTORS
Many more that I didn’t name, all complimented the actors and did well within the scope of their characters. By the way the turtle (or is it tortoise) should be given an award. I swear I saw his head nod when Bobby talked to it!

VERDICT
Yes, the story is confusing, way out confusing. Yes some performances are lacking. Yes the ending is terrible. Yes the story makes no sense if you must give sense to it. Yes it was draggy at parts. Yes ratings are low. But if you ask me, “Funn, should I watch this?” and I will say “Yes!” Why? Some majorly great performances by those who matters and with many TVB’s recent series where stories are botched even before they began filming, all you can look forward to is some good acting. This series has yet. And if that doesn’t convince you, the magic of Bobby and Esther will. Someone said to me “They look like they’re married” and I said their characters are married but that someone corrected me and said “I mean the actors look like they’re really married in real life.” It is true. I love how Bobby is so at ease with Esther and I love how the usually super serious Esther seems to be having fun with Bobby in some lighthearted scenes. They made this series and watch it for them. Such magic is difficult to find nowadays so grab some of it whilst you still can. And take my advise; go with the flow, no need to question the mechanics, just accept it. It was to me a fun eventful ride even if predictable for the most part.

WHAT IF…
If I can change anything about this series, I would have wished TVB had the guts to remake Justice Pao with Bobby as Justice Pao. Same story arc; Bobby travels back in time (soul or person, don’t care ala Bu Bu Jing Xin or Gong) and becomes Justice Pao and use his modern sensibilities to solve crimes and mete out punishments to the evil criminals whilst finds love with local beauty Sheung Sheung played by Esther and battling the ultimate evil throne usurper Ko Kai On. This story in itself can be 30 episodes. Cast better Chin Chiu and gang and you have it! A fun interesting series, less morbid. Unfortunately TVB has no guts.

Pity.

LAST WORD
Beautiful poster. And great themesong.

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

40 comments to Review: “Always and Ever” (By Funn)

  1. Funn Lim says:

    Please don’t shoot me. I know it is drought. Please don’t shoot me. And thanks Jayne for the pictures. I really do love the poster.

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    • luvdwayulie replied:

      Can’t afford to shoot you haha. So, which do you prefer? Always and Ever or Triumph in the Skies 2? 🙂

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      • Funn Lim replied:

        Both too long but I prefer Always & Ever because it was at least exciting.

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      • luvdwayulie replied:

        True, at least it had more suspense than Triumph in the Skies 2. Good chemistry helped a lot too.

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    • mito replied:

      Best “What If” and “Last Word”.

      Fully agree.

      Wish they had fully utilize Candy Yuen here. Too bad, she left TVB…

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      • sandcherry replied:

        Candy Yuen left TVB. No wonder I haven’t seen her in any drama series lately. She is pretty good as a newbie, but don’t know why TVB did not promote her more. At least she speaks proper Cantonese, and she is pretty. She looks very much like Kenix Kwok, but younger and maybe prettier.

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  2. kathy says:

    Great review and I totally agree with you. I almost give up after Bobby loss his memory.

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  3. I LOVE MUSTACHES says:

    The only good part is Pao time. It’s too long and the ending was whatever.

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  4. llwy12 says:

    @Funn: Great review, as usual!

    I will admit that, despite my love for Bobby and Esther, I gave up on this series a long time ago and only watched a few episodes here and there later on…unfortunately, I don’t have as much patience as you do, so even though the Bobby/Esther reunion was 10 years in the making and their chemistry alone is worth watching, I just couldn’t bring myself to bother with the series any longer.

    Ah well…if I need my Bobby/Esther fix, I can always just go back and watch Taming of the Shrew or Armed Reaction — same awesome chemistry minus the ‘torture’…

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    • sandcherry replied:

      I also watched 3 episodes in Part 2. Couldn’t stand the “funny” storyline and gave up.

      Bobby and Esther are not my favourite artistes, but I don’t dislike them. Both of them can act and both of them are very articulate in their dialogues. I think I like Esther Kwan a bit more.

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    • HeTieShou replied:

      Great review and shows that a great cast cannot save a series if the story and script are lacking. I was so looking forward to seeing this series but now wonder if I should?? Maybe I will see it anyways since I have been raving to my mom about it so she wants to see it. She has not seen Esther in a long time and wants to see her.

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  5. Alana says:

    this series is 10 episodes too long.

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  6. Hannahh says:

    Love Bobby n Esther! Yes i watch it because of them! Stories was not bad. Mandy wong was hell annoying in the series but i like it haha well done Mandy! I actually don’t mind Rebecca she did quite ok in there.

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  7. jinx says:

    Great review

    I didn’t finish this series unfortunately so I won’t comment too much.

    I do tend to give up on series that require too much suspension of disbelief. Not that I can’t go with the flow and enjoy the ride, and that’s not even the reason I stopped watching…the series simply didn’t interest me enough. That said, it was great to see Esther again. The lady shows all fadans what good acting is all about.

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  8. sehseh says:

    I’m more surprised with Vincent Lam Wai as Esther husband. Didn’t realize he moved to TVB. Wonder when he will strike luck like Ruco & Raymond Wong.

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    • jayne replied:

      Sehseh,
      Vincent Lam was already back at TVB last year. He starred in “Highs and Lows” as well. Lam Wai is a bit older and his chances to appear in the spotlight will be a lot harder than Ruco.

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      • sandcherry replied:

        I think Lam Wai is also in “Sniper Standoff”, working very closely as a supervisor with Eddie Cheung.

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      • sehseh replied:

        Jayne technically I have not been watching TVB for the past 2 years. That’s why I didn’t notice I just happen to watch this series at my relative’s house during my trip back to hometown and I have nothing to do.

        But I agree that Vincent is older and it might be harder to get spotlight like Ruco. I hope he will be given strong supporting role like Ben Wong in recent years. And not stereotyped as a jerk/villain, though he is very convincing as one.

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      • Funn Lim replied:

        So far his characters are sort of important, not like some vase but not exactly fleshed out or lots of screen time. But his nostrils are epic. Ben is a far better actor than he is though. Frankly I was surprised to see him too some series back. A little older, but looks sorta same.

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      • HeTieShou replied:

        For awhile I thought he was the same Lam Wai as Mimi Cung’s husband, but her husband is a Taiwanese actor. Oops I mixed them up…

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    • Funn Lim replied:

      He was in TITS 2 and another one where he is now the male Nancy; someone’s brother, husband, etc. I doubt he will have that luck.

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    • HeTieShou replied:

      Vincent Lam Wai was in Reality Check too. I was a bit surprised to see him as well and thought that he retired or was acting in Taiwan just like he did in the past. I never knew he would act for TVB.

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  9. Shrimpboat says:

    Too bad this year’s Best Actor/Actress won’t be Bobby and Esther…

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  10. miriamfanz says:

    The series derailed with the pre-modern era. I didn’t understand Mandy’s hate for her sister. Only because their parents decided to save her first? There really should have been more to explain that intense hatred. The memory loss was just terrible, and how Bobby gained his memory back is even worse. (For those who missed it, a tear from Esther dropped on Bobby while they were sitting in front of the Sung Wong Toi and poof, memory regained!) I feel there was a lack of connection from the Song dynasty to the pre-modern (at least the first part of it). Would have liked to see more of how Bobby tries to make Esther remember their first life.

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    • Funn Lim replied:

      ” There really should have been more to explain that intense hatred”

      It was explained. It was a 1000 year grudge starting with Ko Kai On and followed her through her reincarnation.

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  11. dora says:

    me too, i almost gave up when Bobby lost his memories.
    i liked the 50s episodes when Esther still haven’t regain her song dynasty memories. would be better if they put ‘Bobby-lost-his-memories’ episodes into that period because i really wanna see more of Esther leading the gang triad when her husband’s missing.

    i think this is the first series Bobby and Esther collaborated in and they don’t just build their relationship through comedic lines like 10+ years ago. there is a solid story line and they’ve led this series well with really great chemistry! great pity that they won’t be recognized with awards but nevermind, i think they don’t really care anyway.

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  12. AL says:

    i am Mandy’s fans…agree that it is not Mandy’s best performance…and the story is not very interesting…i have been forwarding to finish this drama…

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  13. Sungeicock says:

    The ending is bad.

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  14. blurjen says:

    Funn thank you for the many reviews u have written … i think TVB should film a series on fans like u all.

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  15. Susan says:

    Despite it flaws I thought Always and Ever was one of the better series this year. Bobby and Esther have good chemistry together, however, I think Esther is a better actress. She managed to act out 3 “different” roles well and I liked her emotional scenes. Except for the main line I also liked Pierre and Rebecca’s story. It got very touching and sad towards the end and they both did great in the last scene when they reconciled.

    Rebecca has improved since SSSS and Triumph in the skies 2. I thought she looked really pretty in the series as well.

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  16. smurf120 says:

    Yes another story where my brain had to shut off the logic button due to terrible story line. This is shining example of charisma of leads Bobby and Esther. Bobby can bring comedic elements to the starkest bits and Esther can bring the emotions. I can’t stop watching the two of them. In fact, I could probably skip over 75% of the non Bobby/Esther parts and be happier with the story.

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  17. T.L says:

    I really enjoyed this series. Looked forward to this more than Triumph in the skies 2. In fact… I couldn’t really get into it.

    The actor that played Circle in the 1950s.. (Esther’s husband) I think he is rather an underrated actor. I was hoping they would give him more screen time…

    Those who wanted to slap Mandy… (?) She played her character well… however, to be honest… I fast forward her screen time because I found her character annoying.

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    • smurf120 replied:

      As for Mandy I don’t know if this was a case of poor acting or horrible written character dialogue. I don’t mind watching villainous characters – in fact my favorite for the year is Joey Meng in Change of Heart.

      Even Ben Wong was deliciously evil sorta in comedic way. Starting to remind me of Kwok Fung.

      But Mandy’s Chau Ngan seriously rubbed me the wrong way.

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      • Funn Lim replied:

        I will say poor acting but her fans will bulldoze me. Truth is even the best actress can’t make tsau ngan likable.

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  18. Bonnie says:

    Thanks for the review; definitely agree with the ‘don’t think about it too hard!’ advice.

    I am FLABBERGASTED that Esther is 49. She looks crazy amazing.

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  19. JJ says:

    Thanks for this great article. I have always follow Esther’s drama series. Always and Ever is so far the most emotional show she has acted, lots of crying in it. She portrayed the 3 characters so convincingly well, natural and realistic. Her eye and facial expressions is amazing especially on the scenes with Bobby. The chemistry between her and Bobby is still so wonderfully strong. I also skip those scenes when both of them are not in that episode. Esther is indeed and will always be the Best Actress above all. I could not recall watching Bobby crying in any of the shows he acted. But in this show, he and Esther are very immersed in the roles, both in tears when they facing the death curse that makes one feels the deep love they have for each other. That makes this show worth watching because of their superb chemistry and performance. Looking forward to more of Bobby and Esther.

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  20. lili11064 says:

    I’m sure that Funn doesn’t like Mandy.Funn usually writes reviews for series which Mandy participated in. It’s not fair.

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    • Larry 3 replied:

      Mandy was not really good in this series at all.

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    • smurf120 replied:

      I found Mandy grating.

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  21. Larry 3 says:

    It was ok, typical TVB. The ending at the end was not great, could have ended with BBQ party.

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