Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Wrap Up: The Money-Maker Recipe

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The Money-Maker Recipe/"See Lai Koo San"/師奶股神
Genre: Modern Drama/Comedy
Release Date: 26th May 2008, 8:30 p.m.
Episodes: 21
Producer: Lam Chi Wah
Scriptwriter: Choi Shuk Yin

Cast:

Kiki Sheung Tin Ngor - Cheung Yu Chu/"Chu Jeh"
Michael Tse Tin Wah - Wong Chi Chung
Dominic Lam Ka Wah - Ting Siu King/"King Sir"
Joyce Tang Lai Ming - Janette Koo Ka Chun
Angela Tong Ying Ying - Cheung Yu Po
Savio Tsang Wai Kuen - Chu Yuk Lun
Ellesmere Choi Chi Kin - Ting Siu Tim
Toby Leung Ching Kei - Mo Wing San
Law Lok Lam - Szeto Luen Fai/"Uncle"
Leanne Li Yat Nam - Queenie Szeto Hiu Sum
Chan Ching Lam - Wong Chor Sze
Rain Lau Yuk Chui - Auntie Pan
Mary Hon Ma Lei
Poon Fong Fong
Suet Nei
Fung So Bor
Rocky Cheng



The Good?

Dominic Lam

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I don't really remember watching a series with Dominic Lam Ka Wah in it. Sure, he looks familiar, I'm pretty sure I've seen him around in the older series, but I just don't remember much about him. Maybe that played a part in me appreciating his acting so much.

Ting Siu King
, or "King Sir" as everyone calls him, is evil yet incredibly charismatic. He commands every scene he is in and fleshes out such an intricate character with his acting. Besides the money-motivated, no-holds-barred side of him, there's also the filial facet. He'll do anything for money, and although he forgets it, that yearning stems from a want to provide for his elderly father and his brother, Tim (Ellesmere Choi).


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Aside from fantastic chemistry with everyone in the cast, he exceptionally shines in his scenes opposite Joyce Tang. His intricate love relationship with Joyce is probably one of my favourites this year.

His best acting for me came in the finale, where he was on the rooftop with Kiki, looking down at "Fu Tak" Village, the place he once wanted to get out off so badly, and just realising everything he didn't know about life. He came full-circle. My favourite scene hands-down would be after he was caught, and Tim visited him in prison - the stifled crying by Dominic there was just brilliant.


Joyce Tang

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I can't possibly lavish so much praise on Dominic without mentioning Joyce as well. I've always thought Joyce was a capable actress, but the past year has really seen her come into her own right as an actress. In this series, she was the epitome of a modern career woman. Independent, opinionated, strong-willed, intelligent. Her only weakness was "King Sir". Joyce played the devotion of Janette to King very well, and displayed the profound struggle Janette often endured when King Sir went against all moral to gain at others' expense and the hurt she felt when King Sir dated Queenie (Leanne Li) for show.

Good solid performance by Joyce. It's nice to see her getting back on track, looking and performing better than ever after her breakup.


Little "Wong Chor Sze"

Chan Ching Lam, the little girl who plays Kiki and Michael's daughter, "Sze Sze" is so incredibly adorable. Ever since the formidable Jenny Shing, no child actress has caught my eye. Chan Ching Lam isn't as good as Jenny just yet, but with her natural knack for the camera and her cute-ness, she could soon be there. All her scenes opposite Michael, Kiki and the boy who was her brother were great to watch - they made a very believable family.

While we're on the case of the kids, great casting on the son, "Fung Fung" because he really did resemble Michael a lot in the seires.


Savio Tsang


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Look at this picture and tell me that that does not crack you up. Seriously. :D

A normal reaction would be to associate Savio Tsang with a villain role because time after time, that's all he's been given to play. While he does them well, it gets a little old. (Yes, to the extent that I proclaimed that he was surely to be a baddie, the moment I saw him in Forensic Heroes II. Heh.)

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Thankfully, this time round, he manages to break out of the character mould of long and plays the hilarious role of the butcher, "Chu Yuk Lun" with gusto. Savio is spot-on with all the funny expressions and displays a natural knack for comedy. From the mannerisms (the constant hair-scratching, the lifting of the shirt to rub his pot belly) to the speech, he completely had the whole role down pat. The person who casted him in this deserves a gold star. His scenes with Angela Tong are really funny as well. Who would've thought? Classic.


The chemistry between all the "see-lais"

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Naturally, with a series like this, you would expect a group of boisterous home-makers, and well,The Money-Maker Recipe serves up just that. Kiki Sheung is classic as the "boss" of all "see-lais", Rain Lau is once again consistently effective as the loud feng shui-believing manicurist while Mary Hon is wonderful as the skeptical see-lai who seeks to be a state member of parliment (Or rather, something to that effect. You better not trust my translation skills when it comes to official phrases) and Poon Fong Fong balances them out nicely being the demure housewife. The two in-laws, played by Suet Nei and Fung So Bor, also gel nicely with the cast. All their disagreements, and at the other end of the spectrum, their sticking-together, are nice to watch.



The Okay?

Michael Tse

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You know, I actually tried talking with that droopy frown and couldn't do it for past a minute. Kudos to Michael Tse for managing it for 21 episodes.

Michael is a fantastic actor, I think we've all established that fact. In Money-Maker Recipe, he takes on a role years beyond his actual age and gave his character a perpetual frown to age his look. As always, he puts forth a great consistent performance as the egotistical stubborn, male chauvinist husband. However, as the focus is mainly on Kiki and the housewives, he isn't really left with much to do and hence, falls into the Okay list.


Toby Leung & Ellesmere Choi

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I never thought I'd see the day when I would say this, but I actually liked Toby Leung in here. Ever since her cardboard box-worthy performance in The Drive of Life, I avoided anything with her in it (which is probably why my Marriage of Inconvenience DVD is still collecting a millimeter of dust on the shelf). Toby actually improved quite a lot since TDOL, and wasn't too difficult to watch, especially since I thought she made a cute couple with Ellesmere. She played a young mother adequately, and worked well with the boy who played her son, "Lok Lok".


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As for Ellesmere, he's always been on my "like" list ever since I was young. Not leading material, but he played Tim adequately, and had great scenes opposite Dominic Lam. His silent crush and devotion to Toby's "Ah San" was really cute, especially when the housewives teased him about it. My favourite part was when he turned up pretending to be her husband, while saving her from the cops during when she was trying to run away to China. One thing though, he's always had rather awkward body language while acting.


Kiki Sheung


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I kinda had a up-down relationship with Kiki's performance in here. She's great with the emotional scenes, not that great with the rest of the scenes. Granted, she did have great chemistry with the rest of the housewives and her children, but I didn't quite buy the rest of the scenes while she was by herself. I know it's not going to be a popular opinion, but she didn't do it for me.

And also, maybe it's because I just watched The Family Link at the beginning of the year, it's just weird to see Kiki and Michael together. I keep on expecting Sheren to pop up at anytime to reclaim her husband, lol.



The Bad?


"Uncle" and his herd of girls

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Law Lok Lam turns in a good, solid performance as ever, but what truly disgusted me was the character, Szeto Luen Fai or "Uncle" and his posse of pretty young things. I don't know if they were trying to pull off a Hugh Hefner-playboy-mansion thing, but every time I saw the group of girls making fools out of themselves for the wad of money he would pull out of his pocket, I would cringe. The absolute worst was the mud-wrestling competition he made them partake in. With viewers often making big deals out of passionate kissing or bed scenes, and gory violence, I think this was just far worse than any of that jazz. I don't know, it seems like a pathetic ploy to spice up an otherwise dowdy looking series.


Leanne Li

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While very eye-catching on-screen, Leanne still is awkward and stiff delivering her lines. Although I suppose the character of Queenie Szeto Hiu Sum was intended to be a prop for Dominic Lam's "King Sir" from the very beginning, a better actress would've made the character more interesting and real.


Angela Tong

I usually don't mind Angela in series, and outside of series, I think she's got a lovely personality. However (and I hate to say this), she annoyed me to bits here. Her character was meant to be a spoilt, materialistic brat. I get that. What I didn't enjoy so much was her constant screaming and whining. Maybe it's her voice. I loved her scenes with Savio Tsang, however. Great comedy relief. However, towards the end when her character, "Yu Po" changed for the better, she was so much more likeable.


Ellesmere Choi's "English" name

Heh, sorry, I just couldn't resist. I do find him likable, but his name just makes me cringe. Oh and let's not forget Savio. What kind of names are these?!



The Overall.



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I'm so glad that the series wrapped up the King and Janette storyline with her visiting him and with there being a glimmer of hope for them. Even though there was the betrayal by King Sir, at the end of the day, he really did love her. Everything with Queenie was just for show, just for money. The way his voice cracked as he told her he needed her by his side just as his entire life was crumbling sealed it for me. I truly believed that despite all his wrong-doings, he was truly and completely in love with her, the woman who did so much for him and at the end of the day, she still loved him despite all his wrongs. I'm glad they didn't just disregard their relationship and ignore them in the finale because for me, I really like how their story was written and portrayed, it was something different for once.

The ending, as a whole was very well-done, focusing on the housewives as it should've. The endings this year have either been plain stupid or non-fulfilling, but The Money-Maker Recipe did not bad with its finale. Most loose ends were tied up. I wanted more on Tim and Ah San, but oh well, beggars can't be choosers.

Should you watch this series? Well, it's difficult to say. I think the only reason I enjoyed it so much is that I went into it with absolutely zero expectations. I wasn't even going to watch it when it premiered. The cast wasn't appealing, the premise sounded boring, and it didn't seem like there was any way it would match up to the Sheren Tang-powered The Family Link. I surprised myself when I watched episode after episode, laughing, crying. In some ways, I might actually prefer it over The Family Link which dragged on far too long for my liking.

But well, that's just me. What did you think? Did you even bother to watch it?

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2 Comments:

Blogger Shirley said...

unfortunately, i am trying to be selective with my series-viewing, and this one didn't quite make the cut. that said, the ones i forgo are usually the ones which attract the praises.. sigh

27 June 2008 at 23:22

 
Blogger glazed.over said...

Aww, I know what you mean. Sometimes it's just so time-consuming (and money-consuming too, if you're renting). I really wasn't going to watch this one either, but well I just so happened to plop myself down in front of it and the rest is history. Lol. Have you heard praises from anyone else? Because so far I haven't heard from anyone else who's liked it. It did not bad with the ratings, though.

28 June 2008 at 13:05

 

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