Review: Ghetto Justice (By Bridget)

Ghetto Justice <怒火街頭>
TVB 2011

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

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    1. What do you mean by combining the reviews? They’re all under 1 topic; Ghetto Justice. There can never be too many reviews of the same thing. You can choose which to read.

    2. Hell no, different person’s view on the series make an interesting reading.

    3. I noticed that they are a few contributors to write reviews on movies. So, its impossible to combine the reviews, if not mistaken.

  1. Bowie was first offered the role, then Felix, and last Kevin. I think Bowie might have worked.

      1. Yeah don’t see Bowie as Law Ba. I found Kevin fitting. Being handsome isn’t the crime. Its his acting that was kinda.

    1. Kevin Cheng has the character to play that role.

  2. Sorry, I find Jazz Lam character utterly unconvincing. He over acted in a number of scenes.

  3. I see it like this. For the role of Law Ba Kevin Cheng was selected for it not out of choice but for lack of a better actor in the eye of the producer or director. In fact, he was indeed 3rd or 4th choice. Did they really scrape the barrel? Never was the producer more surprised with the result! It was in him all the time but I’m sure Kevin surprised even himself that he could produce such a brilliant performance albeit not a flawless one yet a performance that won him so deservedly so many awards. At the same time he was praised for his role as 八 阿 哥 in the now popular Chinese series Bu Bu Jing Xin. Would one still call him a mediocre actor?

    1. Hmmmm…. I think he is a weak actor who stumbles into a suitable role and thus became a better improved actor. In some roles he will still be mediocre. But in some roles tailor made to his personality he will shine. But in truth, yes he is mediocre and these days mediocre is good enough for many.

      1. i’ve disliked kevin for as long as i remember, but i do think he excelled in his role as law ba. at first, i thought he finally “hoi heel” (achieved enlightenment or something to that effect) but then, when watching him in interviews post-ghetto justice, i noticed he basically was law ba! he really did get lucky with that role. people say he did really well in BBJX… but honestly, i didn’t see that much of an improvement. his voice was dubbed and i think 50% of the acting is in the voice.

    2. Kevin was less bland as the 8th prince in BBJX but he still gave the flattest performance out of the entire cast. Plus, the dubbing helped him greatly… if he acted in his own voice his performance would have suffered greatly, I think.

      1. Hm… then how do we really judge the Korean actors and actresses when we watch Korean series since all of their voices are dubbed???

      2. I also wanted to add that all of the other actors were dubbed as well. How do we judge them then?? One thing I hate about watching mainland series is that they are often dubbed so even the mainland cast is dubbed… Therefore, we rarely get to hear their real voice in a lot of series….

      3. I don’t know, but I actually prefer hearing the dub voices over their actual voices. The dub actors are really good at doing what they’re doing.

      4. HTS, I’d judge the other dubbed actors the same way in BBJX. That’s why Nicky Wu’s performance was also good, but would have been much worse if they used his real voice.

        I agree – I tend to stay away from Mainland series because of the dubbing, but a friend recommended BBJX to me which is why I watched it.

  4. Okay to see if there were nothing to watch. The unspeakable man and the office-house wife lady made the show watchable. While the lame nothing-special expression Myolie acted like every series else she had done before plus strong sexual desire, the Law Ba pretended to be cool, overacted in bloody sad scenes. One question remained: was it a comedy or regular drama.

  5. Did no one ever realise that Ghetto Justice is very similar to Survivor’s LawII??

    1. 1 or 2? 1 was a little more realistic and enjoyable in a different way in that it followed the careers of new lawyers and had one of the better written characters in Ben (Raymond Lam’s character). Acting in SL by the leads was also better than the leads in GJ. SL2 was sillier and the storyline is nothing similar… although it was equally enjoyable because Kenneth Ma and Ella Koon made a fun pair. In fact, SL2 changed my mind about Kenneth and I started liking him after that series.

      1. I think TVBaddict meant II because s/he wrote Survivor’s LawII in her/his post.

        I dun like Survivor Law 2 due to its cases. Ella Koon seems to be the best of this one and personally, I think MM dun fit the role he was given.

      2. Thanks, Fox. Didn’t catch the II. Agreed that the SL2 had unmemorable cases but I liked both Ella and Kenneth in the drama. Always wondered why Ella doesn’t film more series. I think she has potential.

      3. I wonder, too. Maybe because her singing career grows recently?

      4. Fox, I have a nasty feeling it was because Ella was very outspoken about the whole ‘salty pork hand’ actor scandal that TVB went through a few years ago. Shame about the singing career because I think she’s a better actress than singer. Oh well.

      5. But only in the recent years ppl know Ella’s singing isn’t bad at all. Before, all think of her as a pretty face.

        I blv the Salty Pork Hand harms her career less than her love rumour with Ron.

      6. Oh yeah, totally forgot about her love rumour with Ron. Wasn’t that rumour closer (time-wise) to after Revolving Doors of Vengeance was filmed? I think the salty pork hand scandal happened later (either before or right after SL II). Bah, memory failing me!

  6. Is this series worth watching?? I have heard so many good things about it. BUt then again, the series that are usualy overpraised end up not being so great.

    1. Good characterization, but if you’re more into the storyline and the law/court cases of the show, then don’t even bother watching. None of the court cases really make sense, and some are actually kind of ridiculous. The Other Truth, though lacking in character development compared to GJ, is much more credible and entertaining in that aspect.

      1. I think it’s worth watching because it’s definitely entertaining. Light-hearted as well. But there were many times in the story when I would be just shaking my head and laughing at the ridiculousness lol.

      2. Oh ok, thanks for your info and opinion. I may see if I have time…

    2. This series was enjoyable to watch.But not that great. Still worth too watch and newer drama ,THC, also very worth to watch. Every cast doing good job.

    3. It is okay, not so great like 80s or 90s TVB series or funnier than the insane South Park. Law and legal cases are just additional to its general story devided among 3 couples.

      People say Kevin acted like King, best of the best but I did not see it that way (the way he argues, makes fun, feels sad and cries = not good). Myo acted very normal.

      Funny thing: the way Myo acts when she feels sad, get angry, happy in all series = same and same. Wish and Switch confirms this.

    4. Worth to try. Not a bad series on lawyers and the characters were written well.

  7. I like Sam Lee in this series and he’s one of my favourite now. I cant wait for the 2nd installment of this show to see how his character turns out

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