Ghetto Justice <怒火街頭>
Producer: Terry Tong Kei Ming
Genre: Legal Drama
Cast of Characters
Kevin Cheng – L.A. Law (aka Law Ba)
Myolie Wu – Wong Si Fu/ Kris
Sam Lee – Ting Ka Fu,
Jazz Lam – George Mai
Joyce Tang – Mrs. Leung
Eddie Kwan – But Chik
Sharon Chan – Jing Jing
I watched around five TVB Series in 2011 and Ghetto Justice was the best one. What does that say? Probably nothing.
Can I just say right here that the theme song to this series, Wicked, was awesome? This was the only series in my history with TVB where I actually sat through the entire theme song at the beginning of every episode instead of fast-forwarding through it. Nothing raps like Cantonese slang, dude.
I think I’m going to have to officially jump off the Myolie Wu fan boat after this series. I’ve been teetering on the edge of it as of late due to her shaky performances in both The Rippling Blossom and Curse of the Royal Harem. She isn’t terrible in here, but for some reason she irritates me now. She speaks way too quickly in the court scenes, and generally overacts through much of the series. I remember loving her back in Golden Faith and Triumph in the Skies, and even in Survivor’s Law where she also played a lawyer, but in Ghetto Justice, for some reason she just doesn’t click anymore. She’s lost the sincerity, the thoughtfulness, and the depth that characterized much of her earlier performances. Sorry, Myolie, but at least you will always have Bosco.
Kevin Cheng was better, but I stand firm on my opinion that he just doesn’t connect on an emotional level. This is why the character of Law Ba works for him. I like his lazy smile and crappy posture as Law Ba, but you know what? He was a miscast, because he was too handsome. In the dramatic scenes, everything was textbook acting. Look sad, look happy, look disappointed, look carefree…but it’s all just looks. There’s no depth. I didn’t care at all about his trials and tribulations as Law Ba. In the court scenes, I cared even less. The hand movements are too deliberate. He has no anger, no fire, no arrogance in the role. Nothing about him convinces as a capable, top-notch barrister.
Instead of watching him carefully in this series, I was thinking about who could do Law Ba justice. I remember reading somewhere that Bowie Lam was offered this role, although I think his take on Law Ba might have been too serious. The first name that popped into my head was actually…Hacken Lee. He’s not that handsome, yet has a memorable face, and most importantly, he has that “devil-may-care and/or I-know-that-I’m-the-sh*t look” about him that would definitely work for Law Ba. Since his diction is eons better than most (if not all) regular Hong Kong fadans and siu sangs, I’m sure I can understand him in court scenes. And he’s actually a pretty decent actor. Now that I think about it, didn’t he play a Law-Ba type of role in Legal Entanglement?
So if both leads were only average, then why do I say this is the best TVB series of 2011? Well, because I’ve seen only five series and there isn’t much competition these days. Oh yeah, the supporting cast for Ghetto Justice also happens to be fantastic.
I haven’t seen Sharon Chan in a series since 2004’s Dream of Colours and she surprisingly impresses here as Jing Jing. She gives the character a spine, a personality, a determined streak of independence that is engaging. A performance deserving of her Best Supporting Actress win at the awards. And she is definitely brave for donning some of the outfits that she wears in this series.
I know Sam Lee well from his films; he has that deadpan style that makes acting look effortless, plus second-lead charisma that is always engaging. Combine him with Kevin Cheng’s great looks, but mediocre acting, and you’ve got one great actor. I really liked his Teng; I find his back story intriguing, his character unwavering in his devotion and principles; I was so sad at his ending with Jing Jing but what can you do? It’s TVB, someone’s got to die.
I got a kick out of Jazz Lam, who is so against-type and yet so convincing that one can’t help but root for his character. His wooing of Joyce Tang’s character and the whole storyline with his father was well-written and thoughtful. An excellent performance and my favourite character of the series.
Joyce Tang herself delivered a cute performance as the earnest, hard-working housewife and her pairing with George has my vote as the most entertaining couple of the series.
Eddie Kwan is reduced to a near-cameo here, but does his best with his minimal scenes. Catherine Chau and Claire Yiu both deserve a mention as well, with the former delivering her second-to-last performance at TVB and the latter always performing splendidly in her minor roles. I’m annoyed, too. Catherine could have easily been one of the next-generation fadans with her acting abilities.
Ghetto Justice gets points for some other things too. I actually liked the ending; it was unconventional but kind of cute, although I don’t think Kris deserved that from Law Ba because I find her character self-centered and self-important.
There are light moments, and yet some cases with serious moral dilemmas and questions, as well as some plotline surprises generally unseen at TVB. How Jing Jing became a prostitute, for example, or how Law Ba went from arrogant hotshot to carefree street lawyer. The latter was anti-climatic, though… when the reason was revealed, I was like “That’s it?!”
It’s not one of my dramas without some complaints. My biggest one is Shek Sau and Stephen Huynh, who couldn’t act their way out of a cardboard box if they wanted to. I alternated between face-palming and laughing during their scenes. They are just that bad. If your fast-forward button works for that pair though, you’ve got one entertaining series with a killer supporting cast and characters. Worth watching.
To Watch or Not to Watch, That is the Question
Recommended as one of the best TVB series of 2011. Let’s enjoy it while we can, because TVB is headed for some tough times ahead.
This review was written by Bridget, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com.