Monday, June 4, 2012

[TVB2012] Gloves Come Off 《拳王》 Review


Genre: Modern, drama, action
# of Episodes: 25
Producer: Marco Law
- Kevin Cheng as Tong Sap Yat
- Raymond Wong as Pat Ka Sing (Buddy)
- Selena Li as Chai Pak Fai (Donna / Don)
- Natalie Tong as Yam Ho Kau (Bo Bo)
- Nancy Wu as Ting Yan Chi (Ah Ting)
- Kenny Wong as Ko Wai Ting
- Power Chan as Chu Sai Cheung
- Florence Kwok as Chong Po Lam (Polly)
- Katy Kung as Chong Po Kei (Vicky)
- Edwin Siu as Leung Yan Wah (Edward)

What's It About? A very frustrating story about the lives of two Boxing Champions, who take turns making stupid decisions for living. This series turns out to be nothing but a disappointment.

- Spoilers Alert -

First of all, the title is all wrong. The Chinese title literally means "Boxing King" or "Boxing Champion" but of the two main leads, one is already a champion to begin with, and the other one MIRACULOUSLY earned that title after winning ONE match half way through the series. If they chose to keep that title, they should have at least made the story more like it, something like Kevin's character helping Raymond's character work through all the hardship and FINALLY he becomes a boxing champion. For the series we see right now, a more fitting title should be something like "How to Ruin Your Life as a Boxing Champion" Now that's what the story is about!!

Nowadays, everything is about packaging. If in Beyond the Realm of Conscience the poor script-writing was masked by those fancy costumes and ginormous wigs, in Gloves Come Off, the cliche messed-up plot about love/hate/betrayal/revenge is wrapped up and sold as a boxing drama. I'm sure everyone can tell that roughly 5% of this series is about boxing, the rest is just more or less crap to me. This is one of those series where the artistes' efforts all go to waste because the scriptwriters were all messed-up in the head. I can totally imagine them talking among themselves "Hey, I thought of this AMAZINGLY DRAMATIC plot that I'm sure all the see-lai will love. How should I make it so the ratings can go even higher, you know, beating the records of HOG and MR?" "Oh, I know. Let's add some boxing scenes so the younger guys will like it and have those half-naked muscular actors acted out so the younger gals will love it as well!!" "Well, yes, that's a GREAT idea!! Let's make a boxing series out of that to draw the younger audience as well and the ratings will be skyrocketed. YAY!!" Aww man... I feel cheated by TVB!!

Ok, that's enough of ranting for now. What's so bad about GCO? Well, a lot... but not all. I do admit that not everything in GCO is bad. For example, the father-and-son plot of Kevin and the little boy Tong Kat (Kat Jai) is one of the best parts of the series. They do act like real father and son. Their story is rather touching as well and I thought it was quite cute how Kat Jai kept opposing his father and hiding his stuff just because Sap Yat wouldn't admit that he still loves boxing. The most memorable time got to be when Sap Yat hit Kat Jai because he was rude to his grandpa. He got mad when someone badmouths his father and would defend him all the way. He wants Sap Yat to be happy so he kept urging him to box again. What a cute little kid Sap Yat has!! It's also really funny how he always talks like an old man haha... I kinda miss him when he went to Canada. Well, it's actually unbelievable that Sap Yat would let him go to Canada with his grandpa in the first place. I thought Kevin did well portraying the role of a father. When he hit Kat Jai, I kinda saw tears lingering in his eyes. Very good performance, I can feel his pain. Thumbs up to the little boy as well, very natural acting!!

Buddy's change in character
This is one of the highlights of the drama and I think it's fair to say that Raymond's character Buddy is the driving force of the whole series. Buddy was nothing nice to begin with and he was rather annoying. He's badmouthed, irresponsible, lazy, hot-headed, arrogant, troublesome... but at least he still has conscience. I heard a lot of people said Raymond was OTT as the goofy Buddy but I thought he was fine. His character required him to act like that. Though you can just say you don't like his character in general. Anyways, when he started to learn boxing with Sap Yat, the two became good friends and Buddy also found his goal, which is to become a boxing champion. But once he earned that title, his desires just grew bigger. He wanted to be rich and famous as well and that had led him to the wrong path. That's some character dynamic right there!! However, it's kinda sad to see his friendship with Sap Yat broke up. And when Sap Yat decided to fight him, I thought Sap Yat would have the upper hand since he trained days and nights while Buddy was slacking off. It turned out I was wrong, Sap Yat kept getting hit by Buddy. But what I didn't like is how Sap Yat just needed to hit Buddy ONCE and he WON. That didn't seem right to me (ok, I'm not a boxing expert but still, make it more exciting at least!!). And did that hit cause Buddy to have brain damage or something because he turned all nice right after? That fast? Come on, it was only ONE hit? The part where he kneeled down and apologized to Sap Yat didn't have any effect on me at all because it wasn't even convincing. I was glad that he's good again but they should have at least made it more believable!!

Buddy, Bo Bo, (and Vicky)
Raymond and Natalie were quite cute as a couple. I love the part where Buddy and Bo Bo went to Super Junior's concert and danced to their song "Sorry Sorry". That was hilarious!! I also love the part where Buddy proposed to her on the street. That wig he wore was just... O_o Just like Buddy, Bo Bo was also immature. She was pregnant but she still got herself drunk and even slapped Buddy's mom by accident (that was a funny scene though!!). Even after they got married, she just knew how to play and didn't help the family out. However, Bo Bo gradually changed for the better. She grew more mature and even became the main support of the whole family. Bo Bo was actually my favorite character in GCO. Her character development was believable and Bo Bo was the type of character that makes you root for her till the end.

Sadly, her marriage with Buddy was ruined by the retarded Vicky who just happened to escape from a mental hospital. I don't even know why they added her to the story because she just made the series more frustrating to watch. If in Sergeant Tabloid Elaine Yiu's Ko Yee Kiu traveled through time to target Niki Chow's Tsui Sum because of jealously, in GCO Katy Kung must be trying to take revenge on Raymond for what Tung Bun Sin did to her in their previous life; and this time, it was her who seduced him. Vicky was such a wicked character with a messed-up head who even went as far as seducing her sister's husband, and Buddy was probably the dumbest guy ever!! I got so mad when he cheated on Bo Bo. And I really wanted to slap that Vicky when she came to Bo Bo saying she was pregnant with Buddy's baby. That being said, Katy was successful in portraying such b*tchy character. She has potential in acting but I'm afraid that she'll get typecasted from now on. Natalie's acting hasn't exactly improved but her portrayal of Bo Bo has won my heart. I appreciated that Bo Bo didn't abandon Buddy's parents and even helped them with the tofu business despite Buddy's wrong doings. And just when Buddy finished learning his lesson, they had to kill off Bo Bo. This is seriously the WORST part of all!! How dare they kill off my favorite character just like that?! I'm still so mad at how this series had turned out!! And I still couldn't believe Bo Bo just died like that. I almost cried at the part where Buddy watched the video Bo Bo made for her older self. Raymond's acting was good too. He showed his inner emotions well. BUT I'M STILL SO MAD AT HOW THIS SERIES HAD TURNED OUT!! ARGHHHH... and that Vicky didn't even get the punishment she deserved!!

Sap Yat, Don and Edward's love triangle
This is also another part that dragged this series down because I seriously don't understand their romance. Sap Yat loves Don but doesn't dare to tell her because he doesn't think he matches her. Don loves both Edward and Sap Yat but she seems to love Sap Yat more. Edward loves Don but knows that Don loves Sap Yat. And finally Sap Yat chooses to sacrifice and pushes Don to marry Edward. And of course Edward marries Don knowing that she loves Sap Yat!! O how unromantic!! These people seriously have no life!! The night before Don and Edward's wedding, Don ran out to find Sap Yat. Ok that's understandable given that Don loved him too. Let her be the only foolish one then, but NO, Sap Yat just had to come out at that moment and even kissed her and then...... still shipped her back to Edward!! What was the point of that then, seriously?? If he chose to step out of the relationship, he shouldn't meet her and let her forget about him. But no, he just had to remind her how 'in love' they were and in the end still had no guts to run off with her. Sap Yat, you're hopeless!!

Then came the tragedy, which pretty much served as an easy way out for this love triangle. During this time however, I appreciated that Don didn't give up on Edward and still took care of him even if he treated her badly. But then I just realized that according to TVB policy, Edward must die in this case so our hero and heroine can end up together. And yes, he died. So now Sap Yat and Don can be together. NOT SO FAST!! TVB decided to give us one more round of torture: Don came down with Alzheimer!! Seriously? For real? I thought I heard it wrong. I even went online to check at what age you can get Alzheimer. And yes it's possible to get it in your 30's but that's extremely RARE even for early onset (or does anyone want to tell me that Selena's character was supposed to be in her 50's or something). Otherwise, that's just too much of a miracle for me to take!! I'm satisfied with their ending though. That meeting in the church was bittersweet. I know a lot of people root for these two to be together but as for me, after watching all this mess, I didn't care what would happen anymore!! I must say Kevin's acting in this series has clearly improved. His reaction in that final scene was great. As for Selena, she's too pretty to be sick!! And I think I mentioned this somewhere before but I still don't like the way she talked. It was so hard to listen to because she kept mixing English in her lines. Acting wise, I still don't see anything different from her. She's just like the Selena I saw in Wish and Switch, nothing special. Edwin Siu deserves the praise here though. His breakdown scene was well done. TVB, it's time for Edwin to lead a series!!

Nancy Wu as a deaf-mute female boxer
Nancy again didn't disappoint me. She was really good playing a deaf and mute character. When she visited her dying mom in the hospital, she cried and cried but she had to hold back her voice. It's hard to cry without making any sound and she was effective in that scene. I also can feel her frustration when she couldn't voice out her feelings, especially in those critical situations like when Sai Cheung kept bothering her. Unfortunately, her character Ting Yan Chi didn't manage to shine with little screen time and her storyline wasn't as exciting comparing to others. Or should I just say, Nancy's character served pretty much no purpose at all in GCO!! Well that's true, though I guess I could spare her some credit for being the reason Sai Cheung gave in to the police. That's it, no more!! (But why can't Nancy be paired with someone from her generation??)

Sai Cheung's change in character...
Definitely not a good change and comparing to Buddy's, this is way more painful to watch. He was already annoying at first and after the change, he became even more annoying. Sai Cheung is just as messed-up as Vicky. And everytime I saw him or Vicky onscreen, I just wanted to throw my laptop out of the window!! The stuff he did sometimes just creeped me out, like the time when he put Ah Ting under camera surveillance. Such a creeper!! Throughout the whole series, every time he's onscreen, I kept asking the same question "What's this guy even thinking?" because none of the things he did made sense to me. How did he even get mad at Sap Yat and others in the first place? Because he's jealous that Sap Yat was better than him in everything?? His reasonings didn't sound legit to me. I just don't get him in general. It was just over one night and he's completely different. He was just stubborn at first but he turned quite nasty after. I'm really disgusted by how he betrayed Ko Wai Ting!! Power's acting was good though. He portrayed such character with a messed-up mind so convincingly that I technically hated him from head to toe. There's one thing I've been wondering though: Sai Cheung didn't know how to fight?! I thought he learned boxing together with Sap Yat and Ko Wai Ting??

Kevin Cheng as Tong Sap Yat
When I was typing this, I realized I have a lot more to say about Kevin's acting so I saved one whole paragraph for him. During the airing of this series, there was a lot of criticism about Kevin's acting, which I think was mainly due to his scandals with some other actors. They said his acting was 'plastic' and his boxing scenes were like swatting flies. I'm no boxing expert so I can't comment on that. Comparing to Raymond, his boxing scenes were minimal anyways, and like I said before, only 5% of this series was about boxing so I wouldn't even care if his boxing was authentic or not. Acting wise, I do think Kevin showed improvements here comparing to his last series, namely Ghetto Justice. His emotions were more believable and real here. The way he had his tears lingering in his eyes was just excellent, especially in the last scene where he met Selena again. However, apart from those emotional scenes, Kevin was still Kevin, nothing special, and his body language was still as bad as ever!! I also couldn't really get on with his character Sap Yat. He seemed too good and too forgiving to be true. Can I easily forgive someone who helped put myself in jail? NO!! Sap Yat, you don't do that! You have to hate him! Keep hating him! Do what Buddy and Sai Cheung did! Hate him! Hate him! Don't talk to him! And HATE HIM!! (sorry... I got carried away :P) Nevertheless, this is some good acting from Kevin even if his character may not be the best one to watch for. Oh yes, one more thing, the theme song was wasted on Kevin. The song itself was ok I guess (I don't like the English part though) but it definitely doesn't go well with Kevin's voice. He sounded weak. Sometimes I can only hear the music and not his singing.

My Rating: 6.3/10

Worth watching? Messed-up plots + some good acting, you decide. For me, it's a no. However, if you do want to start it, don't let the beginning fool you and more importantly, don't grow to love it or else you will be very frustrated later on.

**Credit: The pictures are taken from and just for illustration purpose**

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