[Review] “The Borderline” (By Miriamfanz)

The Borderline <警界線>
HKTV Drama 2014

Genre: Police procedural
Episodes: 17

Cast: Liu Kai Chi, Dominic Lam, Lawrence Chou, Joman Chiang, Leila Tong


The Borderline has the advantage of being the first HKTV series to air, so there is a sense of freshness to it all. The first, most obvious difference is the cinematography. Using real location settings, everything appears darker and this might be a turn-off for some people. But take a few episodes to adjust and it shouldn’t be a big deal anymore. Or start watching The Election and suddenly you will appreciate the lighting in The Borderline.

The Borderline 2The next thing to notice are the fresh faces, or at least some actors who haven’t been in the television scene for a while. It was nice to see a different set of people for a change and not just the same casts rehashed from series to series. Long-time TVB fans can also play “I Spy” and see how many former TVB artistes they can spot.

Police dramas have been done again and again, but The Borderline successfully mixes familiar aspects to create a thriller. The plot is like an endless rollar coaster with many surprising twists and turns. New pieces are constantly being introduced to change the direction of the mystery and keep up the suspense. There are complex, multi-dimensional characters which add to the unpredictability of the series. Moreover, the series maintained a good, fast pace. Since it didn’t have to meet a 20-episode minimum, it took only the exact number of episodes that it needed, thus eliminating useless characters and side plots.

The Borderline Leila TongOf course, the series is not without its flaws. Where it falters is that the story included some common plot devices from TVB. For example, the story of Leila Tong and her mother was too convenient and put in as a tear-jerker. Both the split personality disorder and evil twin ideas have been used before and the scriptwriters did not even choose the better one for the ending. The police are still made to look incompetent and are never able to catch a criminal by themselves.

The series makes frequent use of flashbacks, as way to explain things that have occurred or are occurring. However, there were instances where the criss-crossing between flashbacks was overused, making it difficult to follow and breaking the momentum for a particular scene.

The Borderline Liu Kai Chi 2On the acting side, Liu Kai Chi and Dominic Lam were the best, with explosive performances that pushed the intensity of the series. Leila Tong was funny as a clueless policewoman. The scenes of her nervously holding a gun are well done. Joman Chiang was okay as a madam, but she was awkward when interacting as a couple with Lawrence Chou. The weakest link was probably Lawrence Chou, who was stiff and slurred when saying his dialogue. The supporting cast, like Philip Keung, Deno Cheung and Wu Kwing Lung (the bombmaker), did their jobs well and created distinct personalities for their characters.

The review is written by Miriamfanz, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com. Visit Miriamfanz’s blog!

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  1. all 3 hktv shows, borderline, election and to be or not to be are all surprising really good…a lot better than tvb stuff

    1. you must be kidding, this is totally boring with uninteresting plots.

      1. They are much much better than TVB. Unless u r blind or loyal TVB fan, I can’t blame u.

  2. Nice work Ricky Wong you should have gone into movies instead of television

    1. With the effect and time and money you spent, you could have done better in making a movie less stress

  3. This sucks. extremely boring, stopped at the first 5-10 min.

    Watching old Chinese film is way more interesting than this.

  4. Nope. not giving those anymore chances. This is not appealing to me or my friends. Terrible

  5. Both Tong and Lawrence roles as police officers (CID) are too exaggerated. When does or can a lower ranking chastise, complain, cajole, command, ridicule or blatantly disregard a superior officer without consequences? Totally unrealistic and absurd. They would have been severely reprimanded and demoted to uniformed beat walking ranks. There is no neighborhood police station which they are working out of but the same small office and common area. Tong’s character should have been left out completely as her use to solve cases were minimal along with her lack of emotional commitment until it was too late. Yes, her constant whining and badgering irritated me from beginning to end.

    1. Except that you forgot that Tong’s foster father was one of the white shirt senior position of the police force. Fire Sir told To Yat Fei was told to leave her (and just humour her) on trial for 2-3 weeks, and if she underperforms, just transfer her out.

      Another thing is that when Fire sir was still alive Lawrence was given full backing to investigate To Yat Fei.

      1. Yes, I remember the nepotism part of “humoring” her for a couple of weeks but if she can’t fire a weapon properly but only knows how to make soup, a true and caring godfather would not consider putting her into this dangerous situation even if she nags him? Too unrealistic.

    2. Have you seen the incompetence and insubordination in TVB’s cop dramas?

  6. HKTV production look as beautiful as American series. TVB meanwhile look like 90s American sitcoms and still using studio backdrops!

  7. ya its nice to see hong kong tv shows finally look similar to american tv…hktv is putting in a lot of effort and time into their tv shows…its great to see and its a great start

    1. Of course he can put a lot of time to one drama, they can even take a year to film since they got all the time they needed. They don’t have the license anyway.

      Boring drama anyway

  8. tvb still has its audience but its fading becus nothing is new or fresh, everything is the same

    its almost 2015, this current tvb style of tv making is coming to an end…but soon but it will…after seeing better quality hktv shows, people in hk and cantonese people around the world will expect more from tv shows…which is good becus hk tv, and even hk movies and music is going through though times

  9. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some TVB plot devices thrown in there, some of the producers working in HKTV used to be scriptwriters for tvb.

  10. Tbh i very much prefer to be or not to be and the elction than the borderline. But still, overall, HKTV is heaps ahead of tvb in terms of quality and scriptwriting.

  11. The plot was horrible. The script writers think they can just get away with stealing the plots of other popular tvs and movies and no one would notice?
    Everyone in the story know each other. Its so unbelievable.
    With that said, they have got to start somewhere. Hope they will keep improving.

    1. They are much much better than TVB. Unless u r blind or loyal TVB fan, I can’t blame u.

      1. can’t say i have seen hdtv drama yet to judge, but base on you two’s comments, i would take mike’s side. i rather they not steal script from popular tv and movies, as we have seen them before, and they have been done well. I don’t like a lot of the mainland drama due to the fact that they just copied/steal plots of other drama/tv show/movie, and they do a very bad job of it, and they blend it up to be different by having weird ending, or add fillers, cringe worthy comedy.

        Also, Mike seems a lot more impartial than you do, just because people criticise hdtv, does not mean they are tvb loyal fans… everyone has a voice >_>

  12. nobody can deny that the hktv shows so far are fresh, new, and different…its a good change from all the stuff we have scene in hong kong television before…i think it can only be a good thing

  13. the show itself if you keep watching is very interesting. there are some parts of the show that can be a turnoff for some people like the cinemography, the storytelling is a little odd how they keep on showing the preview of the current episode and it makes you think you missed an entire episode. then the story is too much of a thrill for me. but overall, a good story.

    i am really enjoying to be or not to be. it’s about sibling rivalries and history of china and hk. i didn’t think it is so good before i watched episode one, i almost skipped it, then on one borning afternoon….

    the election i didn’t like at all. stopped watching after half an episode. everything is so dark (lighting) and i don’t like political shows.

  14. by the way, thank god for hktv, there’s really nothing good to watch from tvb this month. they are showing the johnson show and the myolie show is very cliche. the overachievers don’t make a whole lot of sense either but at least they’ve got a good cast.

  15. This is the MOST boring drama ever!!! If this the best of hktv, then it better stayed in internat only. Saves some families of their electrical bills…

  16. this show was okay…but the election and to be or not to be is better, especially to be or not to be, probably one of best hk shows ive ever watched so far

  17. this show is pretty good…i agree both election and to be or not to be are even better than this

  18. I felt this was pretty well done and shows a willingness to move HK drama towards a more modern-present day style of television with emphasize on a more smarter and compact storyline. The whole 20, 25, 30 episode thing drags things out and makes too many episodes feel like filler is inserted just to drag on the length.

    It’s also great they’re bringing the silver screen stars to TV following the recent trend. It brings a lot of experience to the small screen and really moves it to another level. More time for that experience to show as the actors develop their characters which is much harder in a movie due to length.

    In terms of what this series was, I think it was more then what the current TVB can offer and is moving towards the right direction in capturing my generation (those in our 20s) and future generations by moving alongside a high bar set by the US.

    Moving forward, Election and To Be or Not To Be both seem excellent in their own right and it’s my hope that given more time they can forge even more creativity into their dramas. If Election will have a sequel, then I look forward to seeing improvements as this is their first production batch so needless to say, a lot of tinkering will still be involved.

  19. I miss the simple old plots and simple characters of tvb in this serie. Too complex stuff in hktv serie. I want a simple tvb police serie template where u know who the bad guy is by watching the intro themesong even before the first episode starts.

    1. Then continue to watch tvb. You are obviously not the target market. Although this borderline kept me on the edge of my seats because of the suspense, it was so so when I finished the story. Election is alot better. I have yet to watch to be or not to be. Can’t wait to start.

  20. i like wut hktv is doing, the young generation that watched tvb are starting to grow up, when ur older ur mind wants to see better more stimulating things…things need to start looking real…tvb stuff looks too fake for the 21st century, its 2015 soon

    1. TVB is like Microsoft milking its monopoly audience which getting smaller and smaller. HKTV is like Apple, going after a audience that wants innovative and high quality products. Guess who will win in the end?

  21. havent watched this but to be or not to be with maggie is really really good, i love it

  22. Borderline is more like a fun and fast paced “know done it” play. The twists and turns don’t happen in real life, but they are entertaining. It was a thrilling amusement park ride.

    The Election and To Be or Not To Be shows have debt of characters and the dialogue is very well written, especially relating to the current HK times.

    The HKTV shows are great! Waiting for the musicals and love stories stuff to come.

    This is so great for the HK television and entertainment industry!

  23. The 2 child actors doing the evil twins looked great! They would be perfect for a Chinese remake of “The Shining.”

    Plus’ the twins look like Joman as well.

  24. There seems to be some nonsensical comments that are extremely opposed to HKTV. Has TVB sent their goons?

    It’s hard to deny that “The Borderline” is one of the best dramas this year. “Black Heart White Soul” had a better storyline but HKTV’s production is much better.

  25. very impressed with hktv so far, this was good but i agree i love the maggie series and election right now

    i dont care if its tvb or hktv, just give us good shows to watch

  26. TVB is getting worst and worst. I support hktv but I find that borderline is only good for the first few episodes and then it start going downhill until the end. The election though is still very interesting so far, hope it will have a better ending.

  27. lol. So many TVB shills. I hope the cheque TVB gave you guys actually clears. Can’t be too certain, because you know, TVB is cheap now.

  28. I’ve only watched until episode 4. Episode 1 and 2 did not hold my interest although it’s action pack. But, starting episode 3, I’m hooked. Hope it continues to be good.

    Initially, I find the Ting Siu Hoi character played by Leila Tong was unrealistic (she acts like a housewife at work) and useless. But, I’ve slowly warmed up to her now.

  29. ****Spoiler for early episodes****

    I’m watching episode 7 now. Beside the current new mystery about Pandora, there’s still one early question that is unanswered. When Eagle Sir suffered from amnesia he was accused of killing Inspector Wong and his wife Joman also claimed that he hit her. Both instances he has forgotten. Later, it was proven that he did not kill Inspector Wong. But, did he hit his wife? This is the question that bugged me and made me unable to trust Joman from then on. I’m leaning towards she lied about her husband hitting her, and thus has a hand in framing him for murder. Kinda influence my feelings toward her. Every time I see her, a feeling of dislike arose.

  30. “The weakest link was probably Lawrence Chou, who was stiff and slurred when saying his dialogue.”

    I like Lawrence Chou in more light-hearted and funny scenes. He’s better in those.

  31. I haven’t watched Borderline yet but both Election (gotta watch it for Gregory Wong, who is super ooh-la-la) and To Be Or Not To Be are two thumbs waaay up. 🙂

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