Review: “Reality Check” (By Funn)

By on March 20, 2013 in NEWS, REVIEWS

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Reality Check <心路GPS>
Hong Kong TVB Drama 2013

Producer: Lee Yim Fong
Genre: Modern, family
Episodes: 20

“Don’t miss this one but do be patient with it and you will be rewarded with some very emotional moments and great dialogue that shows to us all, TVB can make a series with heart in it. ”

*Spoilers*

Cast

Louise Lee – Lau Chui Wan
Ruco Chan – Summer Ha Yat Cheung
Mak Cheung-ching – Leung Chung Shun
Priscilla Wong – May Hui Mei Fung
Rebecca Chan – Ha Siu Han
Stanley Cheung – Wong Wai Hong
Hero Yuen – Sky Cheung Tsun Kit
Rachel Kan – Mandy Chan Man Wah
Owen Cheung – Chan Man Chung
Vincent Lam – Simon Wong Sai Man
Jenny Lau – Chloe Au Ho Yee
Kaki Leung – Peggy Fong Pui Kei
Meini Cheung – Wai Lai Fun
Chow Chung – Leung Tung
Teresa Ha – Cheung Ki
Yoyo Law – Leung Ka Yang
Yu Tze Ming – Ho Chi Cheung
Law Lok Lam – Kit’s father
Unknown – May’s father

Absolutely unknown
Entire cast at the rural village scene in China. If you know who they are, would appreciate cast and character’s name like Uncle Lau, Auntie Lau, etc.

Plot
From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reality_Check_%282013_TV_series%29)

In preparation for filming a brand-new reality show, senior TV producer Summer Ha (Ruco Chan) is ready to document a Hong Kong teenager Sky Cheung (Hero Yuen), who goes back to mainland China from the city in pursuit of the realm of returning to nature through his experience of the rural life there.

However, the TV station has a drastic shortage of manpower, so Summer recruits a rookie May Hui (Priscilla Wong) as his assistant, and his best friend Leung Chung-shun (Mak Cheung-ching) as the photographer. During the filming, each of them witnesses the significant change of the hero’s personality when this typical Hong Kong Kid is confronted with the culture conflicts in the countryside. In addition, everyone’s blind spot in daily life has also been addressed. Summer, who is always subjective and persistent, starts afresh to review the love-hate relationship between him and his foster mother Lau Tsui-wan (Louise Lee) as well as his biological mother Ha Siu-han (Rebecca Chan). Being diligent and sincere, May works so hard to recover her self-esteem and the long-lost paternal love. Male chauvinist Shun’s quarrel with his family members over trifles stirs up a great disturbance, resulting in his family being torn to pieces. Will the GPS Guide for the Soul eventually help them out of their predicament?

Interestingly, the plot summary is sorta on point. I have nothing more to add.

Ending Revealed
I shall put this first because the ending is actually what you probably would have guessed before watching this series. It is a happy ending. And when I say happy ending, those who deserves their comeuppance got their comeuppance, forgiveness everywhere and smiles in the end. What is not revealed is the process to that point which is the real pleasure of watching this heartfelt emotionally moving series with some of the best performances by the veterans and the young ones alike.

Comments
It is easy to dismiss this series as one note and I do agree, at some point it was dangerously close to being one note repeated on perpetuity. There are a few elements that didn’t fit, even though such elements are the main central theme of this series, mostly because I couldn’t believe Louise Lee is a gambleholic. And the issue of her being a gambleholic comes and goes as and when it serves the story which makes it seems fleeting, not as serious as it ought to be and probably badly edited script or end production.

I also can’t see how May’s chauvinistic father fits into the story as a whole because again, it was fleeting and it ended unconvincingly as it began. I felt more can be said about her father through the angry phone calls she had with him rather than meeting him face to face, which was anti-climatic in my opinion. There is no love story between 2 strangers, so you won’t see May and Summer’s love story even though it ended with one of the most romantic scene where they were on a small boat/sampan with the cave and lake forming a very romantic backdrop and these 2 sorta flirting with each other. Now I take a big liberal interpretation to the term flirting but there is no denying, if this series went on for another 5 episodes, we would have seen a love story between these 2.

I also have major issues with the sudden change in the children; from good to selfish to good again. Again if the series went on for another 5 episodes, no doubt when money rolls in, the children will be rotten to the core again. I have nothing much to change about the ending, which I thought was beautiful except for the sudden bad luck of the children to became good again in 1 episode when they spent a good 15 episodes or so being so rotten, they can have fist fights with Lee Chi Hou of Kindred Spirit as to who is the WORST son/daughter ever on TV screen. I’d rather they remained rotten which would make better sense, a better ending even if a very depressing one for all mothers. But how can any mother trust their own child after what these children put them through, after what Chui went through, how can she ever believe anything they say ever again? I think this series did address this issue, off camera I suppose by her accepting that it is a fact her children was rotten, it is a fact that she probably has some part to play in it and that it is not really her fault alone.

To save you time, in case you hate reading long winded reviews, my opinion is this is perhaps one of TVB’s best series for 2013 but since it is only March and way too early to say so, I will settle for one of TVB’s best series in 2013 and probably one of the most heartfelt in a long long time. This is one series that does not depend on shock tactics of killing off characters with almost gleeful joy or headlines of how many minutes an actress had to go through in a rape scene. In fact there isn’t much scandals so to speak in this series, except perhaps a woman’s gambling addiction but that does not maketh a shocking headline even if Louise Lee is the one having that addiction which is to me, one reason to be shocked.

In its simplest form, this is the usual TVB family fare. But simplicity can be a misleading term for a series as complicated as this in its character and dialogue driven script. The gem is not in the so called one note storyline but rather as the series goes by, we see each character being unravelled. Once a bad guy, we see the good side. One a confident guy, we see their insecurities and temper tantrums. Once an egoistical guy, we see what is actually a man deeply in love with his wife but unable to communicate with her. Once a guy lacking in confidence is actually a talent waiting for the right time to blossom. Once a good guy but is actually rotten to the core when bad times come. This series flips each character and plays with our emotions and I don’t know about you, there were times I was carried away by that emotion, mostly from Summer’s point of view.

This series shouldn’t be called Heart Road GPS because then it can be interpreted as what everyone needs is a navigation system. That is not the series’ content since their hearts are misled. If your GPS is badly tuned, how then can it lead to the right location? This series to me is all about Pride And Prejudice. Each character is flawed, and if the script has not tried to reach a perfect end, it would have been perfect in showing not all characters are redeemable. Unfortunately, TVB wants and tries and will destroy any perfect script and in this series, makes every characters redeemable to varying degrees. That I hate and I am sure the hate for this series stems from the conventional end.

At the very core of this series, this series is a love story, but between a son and his 2 mothers, between a son and his aged parents and young wife, a grandson and his troublesome grandfather, a daughter and her chauvinistic father, a student and his master, a spoilt but lonely child and his misunderstood father. Which is which, I shall let you discover for yourself. That is the joy of this series.

Reality Check 9In the story of Summer and his 2 mothers, Chui his foster mother and Han his biological mother, the gambling addiction of Chui merely serves to drive the series some where, but not the entire storyline. Yes her addiction is the weakest link in this series. I couldn’t believe how many episodes were dedicated to her self pity and after the 3rd or 4th time she went back to gambling when everyone tried to help her, I felt more disgusted than pity. I believe that is the purpose. An addiction is ugly, and one that hurts your loved ones and is the basis of your self pity is probably the worst of all addiction. At that point I was frustrated with where the series WAS NOT GOING and it went on and on, and then it stopped for us to take a breather and then came back to it again. That was the repetitive part and it may turn off some viewers because it felt like Chui was whinging it so to speak.

Probably you may ask “So what’s her problem? She got a good friend and a good son and her own children also disowned her and she still gambles?!” which is a valid question. I asked that many times. But as the story reveals itself, her addiction stemmed from her loneliness after her husband died very very suddenly, it spiralled out of control when her children abandoned her which made her question many times, “Was I that bad a mother to have raised 2 rotten children?” and compounded by the fact that she felt this immense guilt that she was the wedge between Summer, a boy she raised and loved but not as her own son and Summer’s biological mother, Han. She never wanted to replace Han as Summer’s mother but when she realised she unexpectedly did so, she herself felt herself to be this rotten evil woman and there she goes, gambling again. I expected her to kill herself way before she actually wanted to kill herself. So when she did finally curbed her addiction, to many viewers probably quite suddenly, in actual fact 2 of her biggest driving force towards gambling were solved; she recognised the fact that her children were rotten and it was not her fault AND she finally accepts that she has a got a good son, that is Summer who finally reconciled with his biological mother. Her guilt lifted, her loneliness gone, her pain disappeared and so does her need to gamble. It is in the end psychological and yes, why can’t she see a doctor about that, correct? But then that will be A Great Way To Care instead of this series.

Summer to me sometimes is such a prejudiced character. He hated his mother, to the point that he doesn’t give a damn about her illness. That was a very realistic dialogue he had with May, where May chastised him for not caring about his own mom whilst running everywhere looking for someone else’s mom but he replied sarcastically that Han can die and he doesn’t care and he meant it, with enough venom to make you wince. Another actor would have made me fly kick him but Ruco did that scene with that terrible dialogue with such grace, I sorta wondered “Why man, why you hate her so?” instead of you know, “You bastard!” Automatically I assumed the mother must have been rotten but changed over the years. The truth was far simpler. She gave birth to Summer when she was 16, she was young, she didn’t know how to care for a child, and she thought by giving him a father, and a family, was the best way to show how much she loved him. Unfortunately in Summer’s eyes, these were her exact failure as a mother. He had very very low opinion of her, even when Chui advised him to forgive his mother, he was not ready to forgive. This series will trace that pain, the forgiveness, the final reconciliation to much joy I hope to the viewers. I certainly felt very emotional.

We have all met mothers like Han, who had the right heart but not the right sense and we have met sons like Summer who wished another woman was their mom instead of their real mom. I felt the dialogue between Summer and Han and Chui were almost like a love/hate sonnet. Poetic, real and yet surreal at times. One of the most surreal scene which could have been a confession of love was Summer bemoaning to Chui “Why I am not yours?” I can’t remember the exact dialogue but it was almost like you can replace the words mother to another girl’s name and it can be a love confession. No doubt Summer is so close to Chui, he can even flirt with her. I like the ease he is whenever he is with her, and I also like the tension between Summer and Han. After a while it felt like Han is the third party in the relationship between Summer and Chui.

And believe me, Summer is hard to like when he treats his mother like shit, he seems like a petulant spoilt child but in the end he is just a very insecure man. He derives his love from Chui’s stability when he was growing up and when Chui rejected him, he felt hurt, he felt like that child that nobody wanted prior to living with Chui. He has issues and he directed his entire anger at Han. I like how realistic when he literally pushed Han out of the door. Oh that was a brilliant and cruel scene. But this relationship has a very very happy end. In one of the last scene where Summer reads a note he made and kept in a time capsule, in it was his dearest wish a year ago and it was “To call Auntie Chui mother”. Deep down, that is what he wanted.

Reality Check Ruco Chan Louise Lee 2In the end, as he was dancing with Han and Chui and Han asked cryptically “Have you said to her yet?” and he was a bit blur when Chui smiled and said to him “You can call me mom” which is something at that point we know he had wanted to say in his entire life and that is how the series came full circle at the very very last scene of a happy Summer standing between the 2 most important persons in his life, his mother and … his mother. I seriously love that very last scene. Even though Summer’s closeness to Chui is unbreakable, you can see the warmth and closeness with his real mom, Han. It was a great ending to a very emotional ride.

And that is what this series is ultimately about. It leads you everywhere, it goes everywhere but in the end it ends where it should end. I mean, what more can you ask for in a TVB series these days?

Reality Check 7There are other stories as well. The first 4 or 5 episodes were brilliant as the story slowly builds up with the story of an obnoxious kid called Kit and how he ruined everyone’s life in the village. Well, sorta. We all know he will end up a nice kid but I never expected to be so captivated by the rural village sequence where we have unknown actors who were genuinely sincere in the way they performed their roles. It could have felt fake but it felt genuine to me. I love that few episodes and how Kit changed even though he still had an attitude, he became a better man for what he went through. It also spent time showing the other characters, and so when they all returned to HK, it felt like I knew Summer, May, and everyone else.

Yes, thereafter things sorta went a little downhill where it seems so usual TVB fare but then the story actually starts when Han’s husband died suddenly and we see for each family, things are not as simple as we think they are. I predicted, very wrongly that Shun’s wife, Fun will run away with another man, thus the emotional arc for this character. Yes, I was thinking the cheap shock tactics again and this series turned out classier than I thought. She didn’t run away, she stayed but the almost breakup of this marriage was at times rather funny to watch thanks to the antics of Hong’s very nosy grandfather and Fun’s sometimes misunderstood parents-in-law. These set/couple is the comedic element in this series and it can be very very funny.

May’s story is the most underdeveloped and at times I feel she was too judgmental of Summer and too opinionated but again the heart is in the right place. The good thing about May is she doesn’t annoy even if she frustrates so that makes her character easier to accept.

I also love the very funny story of Kit and his cafe owner father. I never thought I see Law Lok Lam in a lighthearted role but it happened in this series!

Frankly, I can find a lot of faults with this series in terms of storyline or editing or the script but you know what? Who cares! As long as it makes good sense, I can accept the flaws. I suppose my expectations are lower these days. Truth is I went into this series having zero expectations and was very surprised to have watched every episode and loving it. If you’re someone who finds nothing from a character driven series, then this series is not for you. And what a pity if you missed it because then you won’t see the awesomeness of some really fantastic performances.

Ruco Chan
Ruco Chan must get his TV King title soon but I know he won’t because by the time the nominations are in, this series will be long gone and forgotten. So let’s hope AOD viewers remember him, so that he will come to Malaysia and get his award for Malaysia AOD’s TV King and since TVB is rarely original in anything, they may then copy AOD and give him their TVB TV King award. I look forward to seeing Ruco in Malaysia! Anyway he looks very good physically. He looks slimmer, more toned, the earring adds a bad boy vibe to him instead of “sissy-fied” him. His jeans looks tighter, shirts tighter, everything tighter. What I am trying to say is he looks really good. And he was convincing as the supremely “arrogant” Summer as well as the overly “insecure” Summer. The only time he didn’t do too well was at the beginning of the 2 foster sibling’s betrayal and I thought he was too nice to them in his tone. But of course eventually he did shout at them and even punched the foster brother, to my delight and if you look at Chui’s face, to her delight as well. He was flirty with Louise Lee and this lucky bastard got to hug Louise and Rebecca many many times. He got a lot of female attention in here I tell you! For all those who sees him as a siu sang, oh puh-lease!! He is a veteran now! He is beyond Siu Sang. And don’t give me that crap that he is most improved. He is lead actor quality. As in he can really act. But can he really lead? I believe his legions of fans will agree. I was impressed with him after The Other Truth, where he didn’t feel like the serial killer accountant vibe anymore. I felt his best performance to-date was in Three Kingdoms RPG because that character was meant to be one layered character but he injected into the character so many emotional layers that to me, he was more layered than the one note Zhuge Liang. But it was really No Good Either Way that made me sit up and notice him. However Reality Check convinces me he has that leading quality vibe backed up with what I feel is an evolving acting skill, which is evolving for the better. He can do better of course, he is not Bowie who can do drama and comedy and be sexy and dangerous as he can be dowdy and uncle-ish. He is also not Roger Kwok or Gallen Lo or one with a commanding presence like Bobby Au Yeung. But he has better acting skills than most you see onscreen today and he does his emotional scenes well. And he has better chemistry with his knapsack than Jason Chan had with his. Seriously, when I saw Ruco holding his knapsack with such conviction, I was like “Give him an award!!” because dear Jason really screwed up badly with his knapsack which probably just sued Jason for ruining its career prospect with his unconvincing way of carrying it.

Best Scene
The best being that scene where Chui rejected him and that hurt in his eyes, oh that hurt, I feel like hugging him and go, “Now now don’t cry, she doesn’t want you, I want you.” What more can I say? I have been Ruco-fied and enlist me into Ruco Chan Fan Club please!

Most Heartbreaking Scene 
When Chui left $200,000 HKD to Summer instead of $1 million HKD for each of her biological child as payback for him for taking care of her during those few months and then ran away and hide, May said to Summer, “I feel more unfair for you that you did so much and yet she gave you not an equal sum she gave to those 2 rotten children” but Summer quietly said “If you really see someone as your loved one, you will not say you pay them back for the months they helped you…” which means, in his broken heart he felt that Chui never really saw him as her own son and that was why that scene was very heartbreaking, for Summer.

Unintentionally Funniest Scene 

The one where he overheard Chui and Han overemphasising on “We must never let him know”, “We must lie to him”, “Yes, we must lie to him .. forever!” I thought how can anyone not misunderstand the meaning with so much “we must lie to him…” dialogue in one scene. It sounds almost evil.

One Huge Question Mark 
I don’t get it! Why when Summer was beaten with bruises on his face, very prominent bruises and NOT ONE even said “Oh dear what happened?” but when he was coughing and sorta sick, suddenly all 3 women (Chui, Han and May) all went into panic mode like “Oh you’re sick, you must rest”? I mean poor guy, good looking face punched and yet no one cared, no one asked, no one wondered and one cough, woah all the women rushing to him. Doesn’t make sense at all.

Louise Lee
I consider her a complete miscast as the gambleholic Chui. This is in part because Louise is too elegant to be a believable no-shame-gambleholic. However she was fantastic as the woman driven mad with guilt over Summer’s rejection of his real mom, that good woman and good mother sort of role. That I can’t critique and she shares the best chemistry with Ruco. They can be lovers and I will be convinced. Anyway I didn’t catch the age difference but I do think Chui should be about a decade older than Han. Or maybe a bit more. We do know Summer was 8 when he went to live with him. Han was 16 when she gave birth to Summer. It was 3 years after Summer moved in that Chung was born. Mandy presumably only a few years younger. None of these matters, just for comparison sake. Anyway Chui’s husband is the often seen ke-le-fe veteran but never quite in prominent roles like patriarch of a family. So when I saw him I thought “Wow, either he has been promoted since he is now husband of Louise or Louise is demoted with a nobody husband so to speak”. And then of course he died so that settles the whole promotion/demotion. The role is too small for Chun Pui and a bit too prominent (hey! Louise is your wife, that must mean a promotion!) for ke-le-fes.

Best Scene
Quite a few. I like how in the end she realises that her children’s turning to the dark side isn’t really due to her gambling habits but her gambling habits showed to her their real personality, how she reconciled with the fact that their relationships will never be the same ever again, the subtle smile she had when she saw Ruco’s Summer beating her son whom she loved very much but became very very disappointed with. Her confrontation with her pretentious children with some really hard hitting dialogue ever spoken, probably by Louise herself. I think those are her best scenes, as she confronted her children’s hypocrisy and yet you see from her eyes, her heart is breaking and she is constantly asking herself what did she do wrong, that she ended up with 2 rotten children.

Rebecca Chan 
Another fine performance. I always thought for a veteran Rebecca Chan is often not very much appreciated. She has fine acting skills. And she is still beautiful. I don’t have much to say except this is a very subdued performance and it suits her character well.

Best Scene 
Lying side by side with Chui, who regretfully and tearfully said “Han.. I am so sorry…I always thought I can fix the rift between you and Summer but in the end I was the reason for the rift… I never expected by my loving him unconditionally as he was growing up that he will see me as his mother and reject you. I am so sorry Han, I am so very sorry” and we see Chui lying by her side, her back facing Han and she was silently crying. It was a heart wrenching scene. Han never blamed Chui for taking her place, she was grateful and in a way she blamed herself for her failure to be a good mother in Summer’s eyes but it doesn’t make that scene any less heart wrenching.

Another Most Heartbreaking Scene
Many times Summer said some terrible stuff to her, from “please leave” to outright “get lost” but the most heartbreaking was when he said “Auntie Chui can do no wrong in my eyes! She is perfect in my eyes! Whatever she does, however she does wrong, I will always forgive her! But I will never ever forgive you!” and pushes Han out of the door. Sometimes I hate Summer for resenting his mom who was making a lot of effort and poor Han did give up for a while, thinking she didn’t want to force her presence onto Summer who clearly hated him. But I believe Chui did say “When there’s hate, there’s love.”

Evergreen Mak 
He really looks like a camera man. A very convincing performance and at times a comic relief. Whilst his story with his wife and parents (as in the guy stuck between 2 forces) may seem disconnected to Summer’s story, you can say it is not disconnected but rather a separate story of his own. I enjoyed his story, how he avoided going home to avoid arguments. After a while his arguments is lost in his unrelentlessness in bending his wife to his will so to speak. I mean he loves his wife, no doubt about it but he never once in his own way respected his wife’s own free will. Yes the woman is silly in thinking letting her manager grope her means she can get her promotion but her husband never quite asked her why she was desperate to stay in her job. He never considered she took pride in her job or why she argued with his old aged mother or why she wanted to move out, etc. In the end all things right itself and we see Evergreen as the unlikely romantic guy sorta wooing his wife in a rather cute scene by the beach. I thought he did very well.

Best Scene 
The scene where he raged against his nosy neighbours for tearing his family apart, sad and yet funny. Also like the cute small small stuff like his wife’s picture on his handphone, with her looking glamorous. And lookout for his impersonation of Andy Lau at the end!

Meini Cheung 
Seen her but not idea who she is. But she has a substantial role and I feel she was adequate and served her role well.

Best Scene
I suppose that scene where her manager was caught filming her legs or something and everyone rallied around her and her mother in law said she can be a witness and the manager dismissed her mother in law as lying and for probably the first time ever, she shouted out loud “IF MY MOTHER IN LAW SAYS YOU DID IT, I BELIEVE HER!”

Priscilla Wong 
This is her first acting role I believe? Was she horrible? No, far from it. She was a natural. I am not saying she is great, I am saying she did not ruin this series, at all. In fact she was sincere, genuine and heartfelt in her performance of a PA who isn’t afraid to speak her mind without being annoying. The most annoying thing about her May is not her acting or her delivery of lines but rather the fact that her wardrobe consists of short pants, short jeans, and anything short and I wonder, does TVB in real life has that sort of dress code for PAs in their offices? However there were times I felt like she was virtually near tears because she sounded like she was scared, terrified, her voice trembling. I suppose she was scared in her first performance and it showed, through her voice. But for a first timer, she was rather charming and served her role well and has good chemistry with her co-stars. So I am not complaining. And as opposed to Jason Chan, she looks believable when carrying her bags and knapsacks.

Best Scene 
Probably her worst scene was her argument with her father. She doesn’t do argument scenes well. Best scene probably the scene where she stood by the door, relaxed, thinking her father lying unconscious on the floor was just pretending to be unconscious.

Hero Yuen 

Who the heck is this young actor? First question in my mind. Pretty raw but is convincing as a douchebag who turned to be a nice guy in the end. He has a lot of roles in the first few episodes and when he was gone from the screen I kinda missed him. An effective performance and let’s be frank, he was rather good even if rather raw.

Best Scene 
Entire rural village scenes.

Stanley Cheung 
Another effective performance and even if rather raw as well. I don’t have much to comment but he does have a substantial role and he doesn’t annoy me. In fact I thought he did rather well.

Best Scene 
Every scene he is in with his nosy grandfather, makes for comical moments.

Yu Tze Ming 
To me the most hated old man in this series, who provokes others and yet doesn’t admit it. But that’s what makes him lovable I suppose; he penchant for “stoking fire” in other people’s problems.

Best Scene 
Without a doubt, that scene where he spoke to Mak’s Shun about his rather loud argument with his wife and Shun said “You were the cause of our rift!” and he said meekly “But this time I didn’t say anything at all, you were the one who started it” and Shun said “What did I say?!” and basically he repeated the exact dialogue which was funny and when Hong joined in and offered to advice Shun and Shun angrily dismissed Hong and said “What do you know? You’re just a kid, how dare you advise me!” and he walked away and old grandpa looked confused as he said “But I am 70… surely I am qualified to advise you..”. Ahhhh lost in translation. It was a very funny scene!

Jenny Lau 
It took me a while to realise she is that poor actress who was manhandled and pushed so roughly to the door that she crumbled into the floor and cried her heart out. That scandal that exposed that rude director who once scolded obscenities at a very young Charmaine Sheh. Joke is, that was her best acting moment, it felt real, the fear felt real and in retrospect she probably felt real scared. Other times, I can’t stand her bitchy “Ah Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeee”. I can do without her but this series needs a villain.

Rachel Kan 
She has been getting a lot of prominent supporting roles lately. I don’t like the way she grits her teeth as she talks. But performance wise, a very good one as she lets her inner bitch out and gave it her all as the cruel bitchy greedy daughter whose comeuppance in the end was more of an afterthought.

Best Scene 
When she turned her inner bitch on with her mom, Chui. Cruel words, real dialogue, evil woman!

Owen Cheung 
No idea who he is but again same comments as per Rachel Kan above, except acting is raw BUT effective. And perhaps the most unconvincing turnaround in the end.

Best Scene 
Which probably is one of the most cruel to Chui when he suddenly stopped her as she was about to leave his pink-ki-fied apartment and I thought, could it be he had a sudden blast of conscience? when he said sheepishly “Mom, can you give me back my house keys?” and zing! Oh poor Chui… poor poor Chui! I bet at that moment she thinks “I should have had a plate of Char Siew rather than this piece of crap!”.

Vincent Lam 
Very surprised to see this actor with “huge flared up nostrils” back at TVB. How many years I haven’t seen him? Anyway zero development for a character, one of the weakest in here. Acting wise, one dimensional because his character IS one dimensional.

Kaki Leung
She is cute here, she excels as the girl next to the leading lady and always the cheerful one. However I was rather annoyed with her constant grins in here. She quite simply laughed too much.

Chow Chung 
Probably one of the very few performances of Chow Chung that I actually like and that I find amusing and funny at times. He was effective in here and I like the little details like how he will hold his onscreen wife’s hands when walking, like a loving old couple should.

Teresa Ha 
She has aged a lot. No comment since she is always effective in her performances. You may dislike her in the beginning in this series since a lot of the misunderstanding between her son and his wife stemmed from her own misunderstanding of her daughter in law.

Best Scene 
For both her and Chow Chung, has to be the one where Shun reluctantly told them he had to move out to be with his wife and daughter and the father quietly pulled up a notice and on it is the number of tha mover lorry service and he told his son he does not disagree with his actions.

Other Performances 
I do not know their names but they were all competent and effective. Some of the best and most natural acting had to be the rural village scenes where the kids and the older actors were at ease, had great chemistry and were very likable. I wish I knew all of their names because they all deserved a mention for a job well done. I specially love the Lau family and the cute boys and girl. Seriously natural in their performances.

And a special mention to the detective at the police station where all the family drama happened. It was very funny how stern the cop was and then soft-hearted enough to devise a reunion between Summer and Chui who was hiding herself and later on gets front row seat in many emotional encounters. I thought those scenes did more to the police image than all those stupid detective series that ruined the police image.

Verdict
The ending may be predictable, the middle may be repetitive, the story may have been recycled from other stories but there is no denying, this is quite a ride. I absolutely enjoyed this series and whilst I can do without certain elements, tweaking here and there, overall this is as I have said earlier, one of the best series of 2013 and I do not make the claim lightly.

Fans of Ruco Chan and Evergreen Mak must watch this for their fantastic performances, especially Ruco Chan’s. Those who loved the veterans should watch this series as well as they are all given prominent roles. The dialogues are crisp and clear, some realistic, some dreamy and romantic. It is more character driven than story driven, but doesn’t mean it should be dismissed as boring, one note, one story, etc. It has its charm and for all the craps TVB’s been churning out, it is always the one with least publicity and without headlines screaming everywhere are the ones that is worth paying attention to. Reality Check is such a series and it deserves more attention it is getting. Don’t miss this one but do be patient with it and you will be rewarded with some very emotional moments and great dialogue that shows to us all, TVB can make a series with heart in it (if they want to).

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

56 comments to Review: “Reality Check” (By Funn)

  1. Hazel says:

    Omg this was so long! I admit i skim through this. One of the point I was disappointed in was Priscilla Wong character. I’m curious to know who read the whole thing?

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    • lol replied:

      LOL you and me both, but you’ve to give Funn alot of credit for taking the time out to write this detailed review.

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  2. Cynthia says:

    I also skimmed it. =X Like with your other reviews, I did really enjoy your reading the breakdown of each prominent characters/actors/actresses.

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  3. Michael says:

    “I absolutely enjoyed this series…one of the best series of 2013 and I do not make the claim lightly.”
    That’s not really saying much to be honest. Its just March 2013 right now…

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  4. llwy12 says:

    @Funn: May’s father is played by veteran actor Chan Wing Chun (I wouldn’t say he’s an ‘unknown’ actor cuz he was quite known back in the 80s….it’s just that he’s been relegated to minor roles at TVB in the past 2 decades)

    As for the rest of the cast from the Lau Village, here are the names according to Reality Check’s Chinese Wikipedia page (http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%BF%83%E8%B7%AFGPS):

    Au Wai Kuen = Uncle Lau
    Yuen Hoi Kam = Auntie Lau
    Ho Cheuk Wai = Keung Jai (Uncle Lau’s oldest son)
    Pang Gan = Zhuang Jai (little boy who plays Uncle Lau’s youngest son)[Note: Pang Gan actually has a Weibo account — during the airing of Reality Check, Hero Yuen often conversed with him via Weibo)
    Dai Lo Yiu = Ching Ching (little girl who plays Uncle Lau’s daughter)

    The Wiki page also lists the names of every other character in the series as well (even all the cameo people in the village and such) but I didn’t bother to list those cuz then this comment would be way too long…haha. [Sidenote: a few of the cameos, especially in the last episode, are actual crew members — for example, the guys who played Ruco and Evergreen’s new assistants during the return to the village were real PAs and cameramen…TVB Magazine actually did a piece on this last week)

    Anyway, all I’m going to say is – another excellent review that I pretty much completely agree with (you basically said everything I had wanted to say or had said at one point about the series). And yes, I actually read every word of the review! :0)

    Bottom line is that this series has more flaws than I care to point out (especially with regard to plot, storyline, and character development), but the message it brings forth as well as the awesome performances from the cast and, most importantly (to me at least), the emotional highs and lows that the series was able to evoke in viewers are all things that made this series a ‘great series’ in my book. If I had to describe this series in short, I would say that it’s a “flawed series with heart”…a series that is definitely well worth watching!!

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    • Funn Lim replied:

      Thanks for the link! I also checked wikipedia but I didn’t see those info! Real cameraman? I thought ke-le-fe nowadays can also act. I really do think Mak Cheung Ching really looks like a cameraman!

      And thanks for reading!

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      • llwy12 replied:

        You’re welcome! Just FYI…I usually search using the Chinese name of the series rather than the English name cuz oftentimes, the link to Chinese Wiki info isn’t included in the English page for some reason. Oh and the Chinese Wiki pages almost always have more detailed info than their English counterparts (and no, the English pages are not direct translations as we would think….it seems that some are written separately because I’ve compared both versions and many times they are different…)

        Yes, the guy who assisted Evergreen in the finale episode (I think his name was Ryan) is a real cameraman and the one who assisted Ruco (can’t remember his name) is actually one of the PAs working on the series. Also, one of the older guys from the village (remember the guy who was feeding the chickens or something and didn’t want to let Summer film but later agreed after Summer and Uncle Lau talked to him?) — he’s actually one of the series’ real life directors….can’t remember his real name either but he pretty much only cameo’ed in that one scene.

        And yes, totally agree that Evergreen really did look like a cameraman! LOL!

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  5. Yen says:

    Best review for this drama!!
    Hahas!! Funniest part was hahas yeah!! I had the same thoughts as u when I watched Ruco with his bag ^^v and Jason with his ==!!

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    • smurf120 replied:

      I feel sad for Jason Chan that his backpack upstaged him – every time I think about his series I go straight to the elevator coughing scene – big cringe.

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  6. smurf120 says:

    I read your whole review too 🙂

    Actually I found the lying to Summer reveal between the two mom’s to be one of the laziest plot device reveals I’ve seen TVB put out in years. Really? They are going to summarize entire plan to lie to Summer at that exact moment.

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    • Funn Lim replied:

      More importantly, the way they said it, very sinister plot.

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    • Woot replied:

      Yes, it’s always the same LAME scene of saying the truth at the time the victimised characters are nearby or when they pop up.

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  7. smurf120 says:

    Louisa Lee’s addiction:

    I too find her to be highly intelligent, perceptive, graceful, and elegant. Seems like more appropriate to be addicted to stock margin trading than basic mahjong against the other si lais.

    Even alcoholism might work better.

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    • Nicole replied:

      Funn, this review is perhaps your best.

      “I consider her a complete miscast as the gambleholic Chui. This is in part because Louise is too elegant to be a believable no-shame-gambleholic.”
      Isn’t that the point of her casting? A middle-class, upright, intelligent, motherly figure who won’t have become a gambler, had the stars been aligned? Showing that mental health related addictions can happen to the best of people, rather than those with the shifty-eyed look? Had her cousin-in-law, who looks more si lai and low class, been casted, there won’t be the same effect, and instead, brushed off as the “gambling type”.

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      • lol replied:

        Nicole, my thought exactly. Addictions does not discriminate, this shows that it can happen to anyone.

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      • Funn Lim replied:

        Nicole, thanks!

        I do agree with you, that that is the point of casting her, like casting Helena Law as an alcoholic. Maybe it is the fleeting way her addiction is portrayed which is why I didn’t feel the same way throughout.

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      • Nicole replied:

        Yes, Helena gives off the look of a very strict and disciplined mother! Until I went on her weibo, and saw the photos of the cakes and muffins she often bring on set for the cast! Haha, so she’s actually the mother-hen, baking type! looks are deceiving.

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      • Nicole replied:

        Oops, I mess up Helena Law and Helen Ma. Haha
        I meant Helen Ma looks like the strict type.

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  8. Norika says:

    *“Now now don’t cry, she doesn’t want you, I want you.” What more can I say?* Funn!! you crack me up! I just read the Ruco Chan part and will come back to read more. Awesome review 🙂

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    • Norika replied:

      *… poor poor Chui! I bet at that moment she thinks “I should have had a plate of Char Siew rather than this piece of crap!”.

      hahahahhahahaha!

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  9. Norika says:

    “Don’t miss this one but do be patient with it and you will be rewarded with some very emotional moments..”
    Agree with you!! and thanks for recalling the best scenes.
    Wonder who like the scene when SUMMER and May spent time searching for Chui until early morning? That scene is filmed nicely, and that is one of the few moments when SUMMER and MAY have time sharing something deep and personal.
    And, dont you like when after the Premiere, everyone else were partying except them, SUMMER let MAY follows her and he looked back to her while he is wandering on the street.. his tenderness and letting May involved in his weekest moment, makes the two characters so adorable.

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    • Norika replied:

      follows him*

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    • Funn Lim replied:

      I like that too. But I am also glad the story did not deviate from Ruco and his love affair with the 2 older women rather than concentrate on the younger one but yes yes I recall that scene. Obviously she is smitten and obviously he is used to having her around. I did not mention this but I also like how Kit scolded Summer at the beginning and how Summer realised he was very prejudiced and was apologetic. I thought that was a well written scene.

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      • Norika replied:

        Yea, I like that part when Summer realized himself should stop filming the moment when Kit was crying. Ruco’s face can express the emotion without words. I also like the scene when May was outside Summer’s apartment and said “if u dont open door I will call 999” and poor Summer finally opened the door, I thought “was he really believing that??” he is so cute there.

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  10. Funn Lim says:

    Wow Jayne, Ruco takes centre stage at the top! Someone asked me how come Ruco’s pants so tight in the series. Well, simple. Sex appeal! Rather hip looking. Wonder is that his usual attire?

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    • jayne replied:

      Funn,
      Ruco’s been wearing his pants tight for years. My theory is that he has a slim waist, but his hips/thights are well toned and muscular from his table tennis days, which gives that snug fit.

      If you noticed his pants were quite tight in the TVB Anniversary over the last two years as well.

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    • jayne replied:

      Funn,
      I’m glad you no longer think Ruco looks like a serial killer accountant. Reading your 180 degree impression of him was worth it, especially since you held onto your perspective of Ruco quite strongly back in 2011 before you watched “The Other Truth”. All his fans cannot be wrong. 🙂

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  11. lol says:

    I can understand why this series maybe boring to some because at times it can be a little repetitive. However, if you’ve a few bumps and setbacks in life yourself then you will appreciate this series. It shows how life really is, sometimes the unexpected happens and how easy it is to get yourself in trouble if you don’t open up to the people around you. Louis’s character reminds me of my own mother when my father passed away a few years back, thank god! my mom did not choose gambling to numb her pain, but it was extremely hard for her pick up the pieces and go on with her life.
    This is a good series, only critic was the ending…felt a little rushed. Like i said before this series has proven that Ruco is not a one trick pony, and his performance in The Other Truth was not a fluke. He can really act, keep up the good work.

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    • lol replied:

      critique*

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  12. Minh Toan tran says:

    Nobody can compare to ruco, his acting is extravagant!

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    • Karena replied:

      Agree! Ruco is a gem!

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    • Norika replied:

      Yes! Ruco proved his talent way back then in Love in a Miracle and the Stupid Kid!

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  13. Clover says:

    Funn, I can’t thank you enough for writing such a great review, I feel precisely the same way about Ruco and Reality Check. I started noticing Ruco from Only You and he just get better and better; he is in fact the only reason I’m watching TVB series.

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  14. Jessica says:

    This is the series where I fell in love with Ruco!

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    • Jessie replied:

      Ruco is best actor in TVB. I love Ruco!

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    • Jess replied:

      I love Ruco too! Ruco is awesome!

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    • karenl replied:

      Agree to all above. Love Ruco!

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    • Karena replied:

      Agree too! Love Ruco a lot!

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    • Karena replied:

      This is the right review for this drama. Thank you Funn for writing the true review which represent this gem! I was shaking my head at Miriamfanz review!

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  15. dd says:

    Feels like you only wrote this to spite miriamfanz

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    • SD replied:

      Well, this series was really a hit or miss thing. Works for some and not for others, the ratings showed it was more of a miss. Script was too thin and could’ve been reworked to make it more compelling. Slash 5 episodes with the current script they had and it might’ve been even better imo.

      On a lighter tone, if they had a rape scene they would go over 30 points average lol

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    • Funn Lim replied:

      Just because I disagree doesn’t mean I wrote to spite miriamfanz. She wrote many reviews, I too but I am slower, she is faster, she is more brief and I am more longwinded. And everyone has different opinion. Variety is the spice of life.

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  16. Jessie says:

    Funn Lim’s review better than the other review before. I love Ruco and I love the series! TVB now is nothing without Ruco!

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    • Karena replied:

      Ruco is great! Love Ruco!

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    • kplc replied:

      Can’t agree more. Ruco is amazing! Love him so much.

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      • Karena replied:

        Ruco is very talented.

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  17. Jess says:

    I love Ruco very much after this series! I love Funn’s review too. This review is awesome!

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  18. Dr. M says:

    Thanks for writing this review Funn – you always put so much effort into it, yet don’t get enough credit for all you do!

    Thanks again.

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    • Karena replied:

      I want to thank Funn too for writing this great review. Funn’s review gives justice to the good series.

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  19. hannahh says:

    i stop @ eps 3. my mum said it’s a really good series

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    • Karena replied:

      You should continue watching. Your mom is right, this is a really good series.

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  20. Cloud9 says:

    If I am given a chance to change the title I will goes for this:

    The Heart is Not Made From Rock

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  21. lc332 says:

    I think producer Lee Yim Fong should be credited for this heartful drama. BTW she has given Ruco another good role after TOT. Summer is now the dream son, whereas Keith was the dream man. Ruco himself stays as the dream valentine!

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  22. Kidd says:

    “I was impressed with him after The Other Truth, where he didn’t feel like the serial killer accountant vibe anymore. “

    Funny you said serial killer accountant in TOT. 😀

    There’s actually one in the series, just now played by Ruco. Haha.

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    • Funn Lim replied:

      You mean Kenneth?? I always thought perhaps they should have switched roles!

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  23. jess says:

    haha… FYI for those who were smitten by ruco after this show.. here’s a good news.. he will be at paradigm mall in kl on 7 april 2013 at 3pm… he will be in malaysia for the rest of the month to film outbound love… haha… he is really as hot as summer should be… maybe that’s why he was called summer in the show… hahha!!!

    funn, thanks helping me recall all his wonderful scene.. they were all handed so gracefully.. love his acting..

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