Review: “Bounty Lady” (by VCN)

By on January 29, 2014 in REVIEWS, TV Dramas

pic

Bounty Lady <My盛Lady>
Hong Kong TVB Drama 2013

Producer: Man Wai Hung
Genre: Comedy
Episodes: 20

Rating: 

Cast

Dayo Wong as Heung Kwong Nam
Kate Tsui as Jennifer Sing Fa Lui
Sharon Chan as Yuen Huen
Elena Kong as Windy Yuen Sam
Benz Hui as Heung Sing Nam
Samantha Ko as Sing Fa Yui
Louis Yuen as Tung Ting Kiu
Grace Wong as Yam Mo Lin
May Chan as Judy
Sammy Sum as Lau Pak Kin
Bob Lam as Ma Ming
Toby Leung as Paula Lam Suk Wah
Jazz Lam as Bat Fan Keung

Synopsis

Bounty Lady is a 20-episode TVB series about love and romantic relationships. This series examine the meaning of love and satirize romance in present day Hong Kong. The story follows Heung Kwong Nam (Dayo Wong), a contrite convert from a firm believer of mass materialism and commercialism to a bestower of good wishes to the aging bachelorette population of Hong Kong, the over-popularized “sing girl”. As Kwong Nam and his band of followers, Heung Sing Nam (Benz Hui), Tung Ting Kiu (Louis Yuen), and Bat Fan Keung (Jazz Lam), catapult these needy “sing girl(s)” into healthy romances, they encounter their own trials in love and life. Along the way, they meet their female counterparts in the characters of Jennifer Sing Fa Lui (Kate Tsui), Windy Yuen Sam (Elena Kong), Yuen Huen (Sharon Chan), and Paula Lam Suk Wah (Toby Leung).

Title

Bounty Lady is probably the worst English title I have ever encountered in the history of TVB dramas. (Sorry, Dayo! I generally enjoy the philosophical sarcasm in your shows, but this one seriously needs naming help.) What exactly are the producers trying to convey to the audience with this title? That the lady love is the reward to her boyfriend/husband or that the lady is rewarded with plenty of love? This title thoroughly confounds me. Since this is a satire on the aging bachelorette population of Hong Kong, the English title should rightly mention these ladies as the Chinese title does successfully. Suggestions for better English titles include “Lady in Love” and “Love Comes to All Ladies.”

Content

“Bounty Lady” starts off with the deceiving premise that Heung Kwong Nam was traumatized by a past romantic relationship, much like the one in the American movie Sweet November. In Sweet November, the main character, a creative genius in the advertising business, is forever changed by the female lead, a terminally ill woman with a passion for life. At the end of Sweet November, the couple separates; the woman leaves to seek medical treatment and the man continues life with a newly earned sense of altruism that is inspired by his lover. Much like Sweet November, Kwong Nam is presented as a public relations and advertising mogul, a genius who can market literally anything, even feminine care products. But as a changed man, he has lost all interest in success, money and upward mobility. His only remaining interest is to serve the worthy “sing girl(s)” by being their matchmaker and helping them find suitable boyfriends. Essentially, Kwong Nam’s story begins exactly where the Sweet November plot ends.

Over the next ten episodes, viewers witness Kwong Nam’s miraculous feats in pairing couples. He finds these ladies their matches the same way that an expert sommelier pairs fine wine and culinary dishes. Humor and satire, although occasionally clichéd, abound in these episodes. These episodes actually succeed at providing cheesy entertainment, but they are unfortunately nothing more than that.

Bounty Lady Sharon Chan Kate TsuiWhen watching the first five or so episodes, one is actually beguiled into believing that perhaps once in the last twenty years, TVB may have concocted something original and interesting to watch despite the early allusion to Sweet November. Then, déjà-vu and disappointment beset viewers. The audience is once again delivered the usual plots: the theme that opposites attract, the perverse wealthy suitor seeking pretty girl story, the good guy and playboy duo, the abusive girlfriend and eager to please boyfriend, etc. The storyline flops midway through the series and fails to sustain viewers with the same cynical perception of love in present day Hong Kong that is creatively introduced in the earlier episodes.

Without warning or reason, the well-developed allusion to Sweet November transforms into a psychotic nightmare. Worse yet, Kwong Nam’s supposed ex-girlfriend, Laura, appears unexpectedly from the dead and reeks havoc for the remaining episodes until its ridiculous conclusion. The appearance of Laura is rather insipid and simply a floundering attempt to create humor and suspense where nothing else remains to be developed. Furthermore, Laura’s indelible impression and effect on Kwong Nam is unfounded. When faced with such a psychotic acquaintance, wouldn’t the vast majority of people consider her suspected death a “good riddance” of sorts as opposed to unrelenting remorse? As a norm, people do not welcome ax murderers into their lives unless they have suicidal ideations, which Kwong Nam clearly does not exhibit in this series.

Ostensibly, the message of this series is to not be overly selective in choosing one’s partner for fear of missing the “one.” But, the majority of these couples with the exception of Kwong Nam and Fa Lui seems to have settled for what is readily available as opposed to have found their genuine true love. Furthermore, most of the romances are shallow and the how’s and the why’s of the relationships are mostly left unexplained.

Critics of the series have complained that this drama is insensitive and degrading to women. In the defense of this series, I would like to remind these critics that this series is a satire. Satires are rarely meant to be kind or generous; they are simply a slap in the face in hopes of becoming a natural wake-up call to society for change. Whether or not Bounty Lady achieves this goal is another matter entirely.

Bounty Lady Dayo WongBesides the acting, which I will review later, my absolute favorites in this series are the props for Kwong Nam’s home and office. Most notably, the narcissistic replicas of Andy Warhol masterpieces with himself as the subject matter are artistically appropriate in further defining the character of Heung Kwong Nam. Although I do not find his flamboyant style particularly attractive or tasteful, Kwong Nam’s unusual wardrobe deserves accolades. This eclectic array of clothing helps bring life to his outlandish character. Conversely, I question the inconsistent presentation of tattoos on Kwong Nam’s arms. The tattoos match his collection of jewelry and clothing and the presence of these tattoos seems to befit his character nicely, but their inconsistent display befuddles me. Are these tattoos meaningful or necessary to his character or are they simply an inconsistent use of props?

Acting

Dayo Wong is credible as Heung Kwong Nam, the eccentric and egotistical leader of his band of good-will followers. As intended, his signature sarcasm wins all the attention and steals the show. When it comes to sarcasm, Dayo Wong has a unique charisma in portraying that sentiment well.

The social climbing Jennifer Sing Fa Lui by Kate Tsui is a bit stiff but adequate. Kate Tsui does surprisingly well, playing opposite Dayo Wong as his rival and lover. Her portrayal of the typical “Kong girl” accentuates the purported intelligence and creativity of Heung Kwong Nam.

Bounty Lady Elena KongElena Kong’s portrayal of the bitterly vitriolic old maid, Windy Yuen Sam, is fantastic and entertaining. Cheers to Elena Kong for her willingness to depict a despicable character with such panache and color!

The comic roles of Benz Hui are always a pleasure to watch. His chemistry with Dayo Wong in Bounty Lady is unsurpassed and reminiscent of their relationship in You’re Hired, another Dayo Wong series that I previously enjoyed.

The other cast members manage to deliver adequate performances and push the story along. There are a few hiccups in acting and potential miscasts, but overall there is nothing noteworthy or extraordinary to mention. With all the other problems in this series, the below average acting of supporting characters is the least of my concerns.

Conclusion

With the addition of Bounty Lady to TVB’s 2013 line-up of drama series, viewers are once again bombarded with shallow stories of love and romance. Since this drama is intended to be a satire on romance or love in Hong Kong, I would have preferred that these vignettes ridicule the trending themes of love aired by TVB dramas as opposed to reality. The happy endings for the couples are neither emotionally moving nor laudable. In conclusion, this 20-episode series did not live up to my expectations and felt like a waste of 15 hours. Only the early episodes appear refreshing and entertaining and the performances by a handful of actors and actresses are its only saving qualities. Hence, Bounty Lady can only be awarded 3 out of 5 stars.

The review is written by VCN, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com. 

42 comments to Review: “Bounty Lady” (by VCN)

  1. Funn Lim says:

    Notwithstanding the idiotic last 15 minutes of this series, I thought the entire series was exceptional in its own unique way. It may be sorta degrading to women in some parts, but mostly the message is not to settle with just anyone but rather with the one who accepts you for who you are. I find this series’ portrayal of couples to be very encouraging and positive. So I disagree with your review on the contents about relationships. There were quite a few times I was almost reduced to tears. Who knew comedy could be so touching. And also very very funny. I think this series deserves more than just 3 stars considering series such as Queen Divas never really achieved that genuine witty funniness so to speak.

    Login or Register before you can reply to Funn Lim
    • AC replied:

      Yeah, I agree that “the message is not to settle with just anyone but rather with the one who accepts you for who you are.” Dayo’s character pushes them to change just so that they can realize it’s better being themselves. That’s why Grace snags the guy who likes the real her and doesn’t want her to change, and Sharon puts her glasses back on when they get married.

      Login or Register before you can reply to AC
      • Funn Lim replied:

        And May Chan’s story. Yes she should lose weight but for herself and should go for a guy who likes her for who she is. Who understands her. There is something very sensitive and romantic about the matchmaking. Even Laura’s story is in a touching.

        Login or Register before you can reply to Funn Lim
      • Kidd replied:

        Agree with you. I have not finish watching the series. But, for those I have watched, May Chan, Grace Wong, Samantha Ko, none of them actually settled.

        Maybe some will say May Chan settled since the guy she accepted is not rich or handsome (different from her dream guy). But, she got a guy who loves her for who she is, who genuinely likes her personality and size. That’s a better deal than her dream guy. Also, what Dayo thought her is not to settle, but, look pass the physical appearance.

        Grace Wong has always wanted that guy and she got him in the end. So, she’s not settling either. In fact, she doesn’t settle for anyone. She would rather be single than choose another.

        Samantha Ko and Sammy Shum already love each other. Dayo just made them acknowledge and realised it.

        Login or Register before you can reply to Kidd
      • Funn Lim replied:

        And i you see a common trait in all the men; they all treat their beloved very very well. And their beloved look up to them. I find this series gives a very positive portrayal of love and relationships and I don’t really see any of it demeaning to women or even to men.

        Login or Register before you can reply to Funn Lim
      • Funn Lim replied:

        except maybe for benz story.

        Login or Register before you can reply to Funn Lim
      • Kidd replied:

        “they all treat their beloved very very well. And their beloved look up to them. “

        Yeah. It’s sweet seeing how Samantha always defended Sammy when her family criticised him.

        Login or Register before you can reply to Kidd
    • Little fishy replied:

      Agree with funn, same view here. Personally I quite like the series, apart from Laura -.- she’s too nut for my liking. Love the relationship between Kate and dayo 😀 he is old, but gosh, they seem to be a perfect match o.o

      Login or Register before you can reply to Little fishy
    • VCN replied:

      If it is true that the female characters picked the one that loved them most by not wanting the females to change, then all the men ended up changing more or less to accommodate the females not changing. Pal Kin became hard-working, Sing Nam is no longer flirtatious and seeking models for girlfriends, etc. The female characters certainly did not love the men for who they are. The premise of picking the one that loves you for you doesn’t fit because ultimately, someone (man or woman) had to change in order for the relationship to work.

      Login or Register before you can reply to VCN
      • Funn Lim replied:

        BCN, those are changes for the better. The ones you named became a better person. The girls’ change too; in perception, acceptance, where they see the guys for who they really are despite their shortcomings. You talk as if it is a negative thing when shouldn’t loving someone means becoming for the better? Or should a woman accept a useless bum as a useless bum? Change is both sides. The women change too. Like in Sammy’s case, Samantha forgo her materialistic nature. Or even Elena’s case, she actually became less selfish. Even Laura became less crazy. Everyone went through a significant change except this series shows the changes are all within them. Meaning they have it in them to be for the better, it is just a matter of finding someone bringing out the best in you. And if this isn’t a great message in relationships, what is? That’s why I love this series. Both sacrifice for relationship to work and in the end both benefits. How can that ever be a criticism?!

        Login or Register before you can reply to Funn Lim
      • Funn Lim replied:

        Typo error. I mean this is for VCN!!

        By the way is it me or is there an ad placed above my comment? If yes that is annoying. If no, why is there an ad in my version?

        Login or Register before you can reply to Funn Lim
      • VCN replied:

        Funn Lim, I agree that the characters changed for the better, but the point is that everyone had to change to win these relationships. Hence, no one found their true love by being exactly who they are in the beginning. The suggested theme that the girls find someone who appreciate them for who they are is not entirely true.

        The low rating for the series is due to the poor construction of the series. My criticism is on the poor content structure. Personally, I enjoyed watching the series as a comedy despite the problems with it.

        Login or Register before you can reply to VCN
  2. Elle says:

    After the first week of this airing I was actually quite excited about the whole series as it felt fresh compared to the other stuff. But like you said, after a promising start, the typical TVB style storylines started emerging and the whole series started losing it’s charm.

    However I did carry on watching because it’s a very good main cast and the acting is probably better than most – I was surprised by how much I didn’t hate Kate. She’s trying something different to her normal roles, and it really wasn’t that bad.

    However, the worst part started from the reveal of the “traumatic romantic past”.

    Login or Register before you can reply to Elle
  3. MW says:

    “Critics of the series have complained that this drama is insensitive and degrading to women.”

    Agreed, not only does BL exaggerate the negative for women but it exaggerate the positive for men, which is typical of society (driven by men).

    Rating of 3 out of 5 stars is generous.

    Login or Register before you can reply to MW
    • Purplegirl replied:

      It’s a comedy for christ’s sake. How is it degrading? You know certain things are so true about women in hk. It’s just a joke.

      Login or Register before you can reply to Purplegirl
      • MW replied:

        Only in Asia are shows like that even aired. In Western countries, it would raise such an uproar that I doubt the show would even air.

        Login or Register before you can reply to MW
      • MW replied:

        And, no, I do not know how true it is that men are as generous as depicted in the show and women are as selfish/materialistic as depicted in the show. That’s just not in my reality.

        Login or Register before you can reply to MW
      • JinIX replied:

        Yes, of course. In western countries, they don’t air shows joking about being insensitive and degrading to a particular gender, but jokes about race. Big deal.

        Not all women in this show is materialistic and stuffs. And not all men in this show is generous. It’s just the character’s personality. I’m a female and I don’t find myself being offended.

        This series reflects the society (like Inbound Troubles), and I rather prefer this type of comedy than the typical ‘on-the-safe-side’ TVB comedies that does not even relate to the real society now. To me, a good comedy must take a bold step, and having complains is normal.

        Login or Register before you can reply to JinIX
      • Funn Lim replied:

        Comedies often offend but only how much and who. I didn’t feel offended as a woman.

        Login or Register before you can reply to Funn Lim
    • Kidd replied:

      There are examples of positive and negative traits for both men and women in this series.

      Look at that Ma Ming character played by Bob and those guys who clap for Kate and ignore May Chan when May is a far better singer and Kate can’t sing her way out of a paper bag. Those aren’t exactly great example of guys.

      Login or Register before you can reply to Kidd
    • BChan replied:

      Perhaps the haphazard scriptwriting and editing did not develop the characters as well as they should be, but out of many series last year, the characters in BL were some of the more nuanced. I personally do not see how it degrade women — perhaps it poked fun and drew caricatures of some types of women but overall I find that the male characters were similarly skewed and flawed as well.

      And as for shows such as these not being aired in the West… Where do we start? American TV made huge celebrities out of the Kardashian sisters. Not exactly paragons of ideal womanhood.

      I really believe that what you see on TV in a way reflect what is going on in a society at that time. There are truly demographic shifts happening in HK and China right now about women delaying marriages and such. Though their earning power may have increased, society’s expectation of them to get married and have children before a certain age remains intact. Choosing a suitable mate has always been a major theme in literature, films and TV shows. I think standards imposed on an ideal mate, be it wealth, youth, six-pack abs, big boobies, are very subjective. I think writers at BL tried tapping into/satirizing this subject through various exaggerated male and female characters. Whether this was well executed is another story.

      Login or Register before you can reply to BChan
      • MW replied:

        “American TV made huge celebrities out of the Kardashian sisters.”

        That’s also a “fake/scripted/exaggerated” reality show. It’s “supposedly” their (the Kardashians) reality and not representative of women of society (unlike BL). See the difference?

        Login or Register before you can reply to MW
      • MW replied:

        And, not representative of men of society either since most of the work is done by the women while the men go out golfing/flying toy helicopters/clubbing most of the time. haha 🙂

        Login or Register before you can reply to MW
      • BChan replied:

        Well, BL is a comedy drama, and it did not claim to represent all females in HK. The point is, both these shows were scripted to ‘represent’ a notion of women in certain societies. Both are not ‘real’, people do not expect them to be ‘real’, and ‘reality’ and representation are relative.

        Login or Register before you can reply to BChan
      • MW replied:

        It is still offensive to women as noted by critics …

        “Critics of the series have complained that this drama is insensitive and degrading to women.”

        Login or Register before you can reply to MW
      • Bchan replied:

        Well, obviously, these “critics” do not represent my opinion, as they do yours.

        Login or Register before you can reply to Bchan
      • MW replied:

        Do they need to represent your opinion for the critique to be valid? 🙂

        Login or Register before you can reply to MW
      • Bchan replied:

        No. But just because it is a critique does not mean it is valid either. Nor does it prevent from being discussed or debated. I just respectfully disagree with the critique and your take about the show being degrading to women.

        Look, I honestly enjoyed the show and got a lot of entertainment out of it. I thought some of the writing was pretty sharp and there were some uneven parts. As far as comedies go, it was not bad. I understand that not everyone appreciates that kind of humor, or may have different interpretations of the show. I am ok with it. I just wanted to express my opinion, as you did yours. 🙂

        Login or Register before you can reply to Bchan
  4. tvbfan says:

    The series was great but it was just a bit too short and they rushed the ending.

    Login or Register before you can reply to tvbfan
  5. Vinny879 says:

    the tattoos on his arms are actually real; cant really do anything about that.

    Login or Register before you can reply to Vinny879
    • JinIX replied:

      Actually depends on which tattoo the reviewer was saying. If its the spilled ink one on the high left forearm, then it’s real. But there’s also some last where they put a fake tattoo all the way on the whole arm.

      Login or Register before you can reply to JinIX
  6. holidayNo.1 says:

    I LOVE WATCHING THIS TVB TV SHOW AND IS SO AWSOME I THINK ALOT OF PEOPLE DON’T REALLY LIKE THIS KIND OF TV SHOW BUT I LOVE IT SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!:p

    Login or Register before you can reply to holidayNo.1
  7. jujubean says:

    I think there’s a different writer for early episodes vs later episodes, where the earlier episodes are written by more senior writers who knows how to lure viewers to watch the show. Once the momentum is established, then these senior writers are moved on to write the beginning of new series, and then repeat cycle. This is the only way I can explain how these TVB series have been in the recent past. A few that comes to mind, Wong Cho Nam’s comedy (forgot name already), Roger Kwok and Joey Meng comedy (forgot name already), Bounty Lady (remember name because I’m posting in this article). All of these recent comedies have one thing in common, GREAT first few episodes, and then all downhill from there. Dayo did not deserve the award. Break down his performance. Watch his stand up. Watch his interviews. He’s only acting like his NORMAL EVERYDAY self. Heck! I play myself wonderfully too. Everyone plays themselves wonderfully too. We all deserve awards. Okay. I clap for you, you clap for me. We are all TV kings and queens. yay yay yay.

    Login or Register before you can reply to jujubean
    • MW replied:

      “Dayo did not deserve the award. Break down his performance. Watch his stand up. Watch his interviews. He’s only acting like his NORMAL EVERYDAY self. Heck! I play myself wonderfully too. Everyone plays themselves wonderfully too. We all deserve awards. Okay. I clap for you, you clap for me. We are all TV kings and queens. yay yay yay.”

      Hi5, good one!!! Totally agree!! Those BA/BSA awards were so rigged.

      Login or Register before you can reply to MW
      • MW replied:

        And, Francis Ng was so cheated.

        Login or Register before you can reply to MW
      • Fox replied:

        Maybe you can present yourself an award in front of a mirror.

        Francis Ng’s personality in interviews is pretty much the same to his role in TITS and TITS 2 as well. However, it’s still portrayal. Francis is good, Dayo is good. Francis didn’t feel cheated, and he was happy for Dayo. Wat’s up? It’s just an award and Dayo got it with many applauds. Lacking you isn’t a big trouble.

        Login or Register before you can reply to Fox
      • GingerMessiah replied:

        Just for your information Francis Ng are very good friends with Dayo Wong and did stand up comedies together in the past. You should have seen the smirk on his face when Cheung Chilam lost and Dayo won. Watch the awards again.

        Login or Register before you can reply to GingerMessiah
      • JinIX replied:

        GingerMessiah, I LIKE YOU! Respect!

        I did not care who wins the award if its either Dayo or Francis, and neither do they care. As Dayo said, the award for Best Actor is not just for Bounty Lady, but for all the dramas he acted in before this. Watch War of the Genders and To Catch the Uncatchable, he totally deserves it!

        Well yes if you’ve spotted similar elements in his stand-up comedies and his series, because that’s what he’s well known for. Fans want that. Dayo himself has expressed that his influence as a stand-up comedian is too huge, giving him a barrier in acting where he can only act in comedies because that’s what fans expect. But in his comedies you can see he really can act in the very few emotional moments (I still remember You’re Hired…).

        Francis is happy for Dayo, I can see that. They’re good friends, and not only the Francis did stand-up comedies together with Dayo in the last, they also acted in an ATV drama together. Also, Francis is a loyal supporter of Dayo’s stand-up comedies, attending almost all of them. Oh, and Wayne Lai and Sean Lau are loyal supporters too!

        Login or Register before you can reply to JinIX
      • JinIX replied:

        And the Best Actor could not be rigged! If the awards were rigged, the winner would either Chilam or Francis, because they themself have more chances filming another drama with TVB and it could also promote the new Triumph in the Skies movie, while Dayo had NEVER filmed a drama for TVB in consecutive years

        Login or Register before you can reply to JinIX
    • Bubblez replied:

      I agree, but there are some people out there who wants artistes to have similar traits to the characters they are playing. If the personalities are completely opposite, those people will see t as a “miscast”.

      And I rather see Dayo win than Kenneth win xD

      Login or Register before you can reply to Bubblez
    • sandcherry replied:

      the earlier episodes are written by more senior writers who knows how to lure viewers to watch the show. Once the momentum is established, then these senior writers are moved on to write the beginning of new series, and then repeat cycle.
      ——————————————————————
      It is very true. The scripts of all TVB drama series are written by several scriptwriters. The senior ones are always the ones who create the first few episodes so as to attract the audience to watch because people will give up if the first 2 or 3 episodes are no good. Therefore, there is always a inconsistency in the developments of the plots, as well as in the flow of the storyline.

      I wish the script will be written by one scriptwriter and not 4 or 5.

      Login or Register before you can reply to sandcherry
  8. smurf120 says:

    I found it to be uneven and the Dayo and fa lui romance to be draggy. There were funny moments but I don’t find it entirely successful as a satire.

    Login or Register before you can reply to smurf120