Review is written by Funn Lim. All comments drop them into my MAILBOX.
6 years before the present day in the series, Sammi was a law student with a bright future in law as a career and has a very strict father who was a former judge. Unfortunately, she fell in love, got pregnant and subsequently married a rich man's son who was known to be a playboy named Raymond. Barely one year into their marriage, she caught him in bed with her best friend and that was the end of their marriage. But that was not all. Her husband hired a very good attorney who successively won and took away her baby's custody which was awarded to the father. So on a rainy day, she lost her beloved son, Q Q (real name was Lam Jung Bo) who was barely a few months old and she screamed I Hate You to the lawyer who helped facilitate the separation between mother and child for the next 6 years, that was Mark Ko.
6 years later, she was studying hard to be a lawyer and she worked in a friendly law firm called LC Firm. In there, she was on very good terms with the buck tooth and boring senior partner of the firm, Joe and she was often insulted for her poor taste in clothes by the "I think I am so sophisticated" Marva, another senior partner. However, things didn't prepare her for the worst. The man who helped took away her child Mark Ko became a senior partner and she was cold and aloof towards him. The more she knew him professionally, the more she detested him because Mark Ko was the perfect lawyer; he didn't care for human compassion, he just cared about his client's best interest. Often they crossed path and Mark was beginning to question why she hated him so. And then he remembered her and tried to compensate for her lost of her child by treating her extra nice. And that was when she began to understand him. Beneath the all cool exterior lies a man who was tortured by his past; a past where his beloved mother eloped with his most respected teacher, another great attorney, CT Kwan and his beloved father died of depression some time later. He never forgave CT, and avoided him whenever they were in the same vicinity but he was on very good terms with his mother, who refused to marry CT because she knew her son would never accept their marriage. And that was when Sammi fell in love with the clueless Mark, who in turn fell for his ex-fellow pupil in chambers with CT, that was Tracy who worked for DOJ as a prosecutor who herself had a sordid past that only Mark knew.
After a run around of cases and more emotional events, Mark realised that he loved Sammi, but Sammi, knowing that she was the cause of Mark and Tracy's breakup refused to walk a step further in their already intense relationship. And that was when she found her son again, who was now a good looking 6 year old boy. She fought for his custody and won. But her baby son couldn't accept her, after all he lived with his father for 6 long years.
much struggle and after much ups and downs, Sammi made a decision that will
change her life forever, as she did 6 years before by marrying Raymond.
& Fai & Toby
However, Fai was paid a whole lot of money to investigate Tracy's background who was cold towards men, except for Mark whom she formed a brief but intense relationship. Fai found out that years and years ago, her mother was very sick and she had little money to purse her education. And so she signed a contract to be the mistress of a very rich man, who was now in politics, for 2 years, whereby he will pay for the medical and living expenses for Tracy to pursue her studies. Years later she became a prosecutor but this scandal will wreck her future. Fai couldn't take the other half of the money as he fell for her but his assistant did. Tracy, heart broken and reputation gone, left for Europe and Fai followed her, but never revealing himself. A year later she came back and told Toby how lucky she was that when she lost her passport someone found her passport for her, etc etc etc. It was then Tracy realised perhaps Fai had been following and secretly protecting her and as she walked on the pier, she realised she loved him and voila! Poof! There he was, smiling and she was crying and they were hugging and so a happy ending.
I rhyme? Did I?
BUT HEY!! THAT WASN'T THE REAL ENDING. REWIND A BIT AND HERE IS THE REAL ENDING AND I WASN'T JOKING WHEN I WROTE WHAT I WROTE ABOVE.
Mark left and suddenly, Sammi asked QQ would it be ok if they followed Mark to England? And he said as long as Mommy is happy and so they followed Mark to England and a year later, they were a happy family in England. She never realised her dream to be a lawyer.
Wait!! Who is Chung Kwok Cheung? : Sleazy lawyer who used dirty tricks to win his cases but always lost his cases because of these dirty tricks. Nothing significant.
These are not English terms but they're legal terms.
PG and PNG are used in the criminal law sense. Like when you did a crime, or maybe didn't you will be presented before the judge who will take your plea, whether you plead guilty (PG) or you plead not guilty (PNG). In other words, whether you admit doing what they accused you of doing or you don't. I am not going to go into the legalities or the procedures but in this series you will get some insights into HK's legal procedures which by the way, quite similar with Malaysia and Singapore since we all followed the British structure who was followed by India who was followed by most Commonwealth countries.
For example, you get to see cases being called by numbers, lawyers running forward to state what they want, like maybe another date, maybe continue with the trial, and you get to see the difference between a lawyer and a legal assistant. In Malaysia, a legal assistant is a lawyer but those junior type. In HK, I am not sure if they use the term legal assistant but I shall use it to mean people without a practising license. My only complaints of these scenes are too few people. Any person who has been to a court will know that the whole court room will be crowded with lawyers and people, and the whole scene will be like in a market, crowded but not noisy though.
And so, what is a practising license? You may have a law degree but you must sit for an exam to qualify you to present a case in court, though a lay person can always defend themselves.
In here Sammi sat for an exam called PCLL. In Malaysia, it is known as CLP. In England, the Bar exams. All the same. You sit for this exam, and when you pass, you're a lawyer!! If you don't, you're still an assistant; someone with a law degree but has no right to represent a client in court.
But why Sammi could represent herself in the custody case you might ask? I think perhaps in a custody case, the procedure and process is less formal. Moreover, like I said, you can always argue your own case, lawyer or not.
But you may ask, why sometimes Mark wears a robe, then no robe, then got wig, and then no wig? Well, I am not so sure myself. Because I thought HK amended the rules a bit and so they need not wear wigs but still wear those robes. I don't know.
However, you might also ask what Sammi asked CT. Why behind a lawyer's robe there is a pouch or a pocket? CT said that pouch means once you accepted a case and a client's money, you must fight all your best for the case. True. But I was told that long long long long time ago, like the medical profession, law was a noble profession. You accept a case but how much to pay depended on how much you could afford. And so a client will put money into that pouch/pocket and the lawyer must accept that money, however small sum it may be. But that was a long long long time ago where justice is still un-businesslike.
And in this series, you get to see a disciplinary proceedings or more accurately, when a lawyer did something that is against the rules or the profession's rules of ethics, they will be answerable to a bunch of people and there will be some questionings. If found guilty, you could be fined, suspended or the worst of all, kicked out of the profession forever. Yes, forever.
You might ask, well Mark just punched CT, that wasn't anything about legal stuff, just personal matters. Well, as lawyers whatever we do , our actions represent the legal profession. You can't simply punch people, or scream or cheat or lie, even if it has no connection whatsoever with your job as a lawyer. In that aspect, I find this series very real.
And in some scenes you'll hear the judge saying things like the monetary claim in this case is beyond this court's jurisdiction and so I'll transfer this case to a higher court. Well, that is very true. Each court has it's limits in monetary claim or punishment, and if your case exceeds that certain limit, it will go higher in court. In Malaysia, a death penalty case will be heard in High Court, all motor accident cases of whatever monetary claim in a lower court called Sessions Court. Just make sure you file your cases in the right court.
And in one scene, you'll hear a judge played by Joe Jr explaining to Sammi why the statue seen somewhere in HK and England's court is blind folded. I have mentioned this before in my FOJ review but I'll repeat it here. Sammi was angry that Mark Ko could defend a known rapist. She couldn't understand why we are so blind when law is about justice. And perhaps the best way to explain this is to look at the statue of a woman, with a ..what do you call those weighing thing? Anyway, one weighing thing in one hand, a sword in another (if I am not mistaken) and she is blindfolded. Does that mean, the weighing thing is used to weigh how much money you have which means money is important in winning a case? What about the sword? To kill poor people and take away all their money? And worst of all, blindfold means justice IS blind? No way!! The statue represents the ideals of the legal profession, as explained. The weighing thing means everybody is equal before the eyes of the law, the sword probably to execute justice and blindfold simply means, the law knows no colour, race, wealth nor reputation. You're all equal. And that is why Sammi must realise why Mark Ko did all his best for the rapist. Because everybody deserves the best possible defense, whether guilty or not guilty because you're innocent until proven guilty in the court of law. This does apply even to a civil case.
And what the heck is a civil case? I am sure you know criminal case. Civil case is when someone is claiming something, like money, order, custody, etc from another person. In other words, it is a case between two individuals which includes corporations and the government.
As for what is DOJ, I suspect it is Department Of Justice. Correct me if I am wrong.
I'll talk more on this point below.
Bad Stuff : My criticisms of this series
Throughout this series, we were given cases after cases, and then there were love stories and then back to cases and then more love stories and then it was a neither here nor there ending. I find that very disappointing.
For example, the relationship between Joe and Marva. It was nice at first, especially how their relationship began. How Marva tried to listen to those classical CDs and figure out which were the drums and which were the trombones whilst Joe practised disco dancing. I find these scenes very well done, which kind of illustrated their ever difficult relationship. And then suddenly, this relationship took a drastic turn. They broke up, she got pregnant and he was always pleading with her. It didn't help with the half baked performances by Ng Yi Lei as Marva. Joe was more like a love sick puppy than a brilliant lawyer. The ending was simply corny and I find it laughable. In the court room Joe pleaded for a second chance with Marva and everybody clapped. In another place maybe that would be a good scene but not in a court room. I find that scene ridiculous and very idiotic. If they expected me to clap with glee, I was only laughing my heads of. This series should never gone through the sentimental road and in the end, Joe who always thought of the court room as a place to settle disputes, became a laughing stock to me. The court room was made into a match making room and it was plain silly to see all that happening. And it didn't help when the judge made a supposedly funny remark, like "I'll dismiss the contempt charges against you the petitioner (Joe) if you will marry the respondent (Marva)". By the way, I am a bit rusty with terminologies and so if I got it wrong, don't laugh. I find that utterly stupid and TVB made this series looked so childish with that scene.
The two endings was also a problem. We have QQ narrating one ending which turned out to be false and so we were given the real ending. I don't like this trickery and double scenes. Give me a straight forward answer, a cliff hanger or nothing at all. Don't give me this ending, making me feel a bit sad for Sammi and then there was another real ending. And in the end, you'll be left thinking, which was the ending anyway? The answer is clear but to make the viewers ask such a question to begin with will be disastrous in the long run. Because we don't want to be confused. I can take endings with no endings, I can take ending with more questions, I can take ending with answers that create more questions with no answers but just don't play with me and give me two endings. What am I supposed to do? Clap? Scream with joy? I don't like that one bit. The ending was very weak and badly done.
I know why they gave Michael Tse's Joe those buck teeth, because it will be the reason for Joe's low self esteem and why he couldn't bring himself to admit his relationship with Marva who was supposedly more sophisticated than he was. He thought the relationship would never last. But I have read several comments and some reviews and I feel TVB have failed in their purpose of those buck teeth. Many wrote that they find his teeth funny, and they thought this was a comedy. I felt this series was rather serious. I didn't find his buck teeth funny at all, but I thought for once Michael Tse was playing someone different. I welcome that change but not how most would perceive that change. I find it disagreeable to laugh at someone's lack of perfection. Which I guess TVB failed big time.
Many found the script witty. The only script I thought was witty was the brilliant War of the Genders. This series was not witty or had a witty script. What it had was an informative script in the legal point of view and darn boring in the love point of view. I find the legal aspects in this series so much more satisfying than Files of Justice 1 to 5. In FOJ, the cases were so darn simple that it was almost stupid. But in this series, you get to see some intelligent legal argument which was legally wrong in some part but delivered in a rather intelligent way. Some cases were simply wrong but you would forgive TVB for their legal inaccuracies because all was presented in a nice package.
For example of a good case, the surrogate mother's case which was quite an interesting point in the series. This doctor paid this woman (played by Akina Hong Wah) some money, and slept with her several times to make her pregnant. Let us forget the fact that artificial insemination exists since this doctor wanted the REAL thing. Anyway, she got pregnant, gave birth to a child and refused to hand the child over to the father. And so the custody battle began. I am very sure the series didn't go the way of the contractual argument which was great because I am very sure such contracts are illegal in HK. And so the question was the matter of custody; who could provide more for the child. In the end, none because the mother was an ex junkie and had no fixed income and the father had a wife who couldn't accept the child. The child was given to the welfare people for the time being until the custody will be decided much later. I find this case very real and very well done.
And example of a not so good case would be the case of a transvestite, now a bona fide woman who was denied her rights in a contract that was created orally. I am not sure about the law in HK but I am quite sure in Malaysia the ending might be a bit different unless there is something else to support that woman's case. Anyway, the bad guy's argument was, when he hired her to be his representative of some aroma therapy business was because of her rather feminine allure and beautiful features. And then he found out she was a he and so the contract was not valid and legal to begin with because she was supposed to be a woman to enter the contract. She argued he wanted to sleep with her and when she didn't, this was what he did. Joe argued that it didn't matter whether she was a she or she was a he. That would be discrimination since she/he brought in good business and so she did not violate the terms of the contract.
But my question is, was there a valid contract to begin with? This series jumped the gun on this legal point. Where is the breach if there is no contract? Assuming there was a contract, I feel the argument should not have been discrimination point of view. Because bad guy specifically said, I want a woman like you to represent my products. This is a very real legal problem. I do not have past cases or precedents to give a conclusion but I would have asked that bad guy, why did you hire her? Didn't she meet your criteria when you didn't know she was a woman? And the sales records will prove her capabilities. The issue isn't whether there was discrimination but whether she/he is a she in the man's eyes. We can give definitions of a woman to present our case but he hired her because she met his criteria. He never once asked if she was a woman and she never once lied. She just kept quiet and moreover, as Joe intelligently put it in his argument, all her legal documents indicated her as a she and not a he. Well, the legal arguments may be weak but it was presented in a rather intelligent way. By the way, I am sure even if you were recognised by law in USA or where ever that you're a she instead of a he, but if the country that you're arguing your case does not recognise such he/ she thing, you're forever a he in the eyes of the law, no matter how many breasts you have. Sad but true. Should we legalise gay marriages? Ok, off topic.
One of the series weakest point would be the very presentation of the series itself. Ok, the office looks nice, really nice, the costumes quite chic and very professional but please, answer me..
1. Why must they PG and PNG all the time? Meaning why must they say such terms like it is an every day's term? I find this rather pretentious. Like in FOJ or UE or HH, when TVB portrays professionals, such as doctors or lawyers, all of a sudden we see people with big apartments (well, they're rich,I understand), beautiful cars (I understand), into one night stands (maybe stress or something) AND they talk in a mix of Chinese and English, and put in a few legal terms into everyday conversation, voila! We have the true depiction of a professional. I find all these very fake. It has been such a long long long time since I have seen TVB depicting a professional eating at a road side store or wear pajamas in the apartment. All of a sudden all these are just too low class for these people? It is just not true. Just because you have a law degree or a medical degree doesn't make you sophisticated, smart, chic, modern, highly sexed and bloody rich. I feel they should have showed us a more human type of professional, though in this series we will see one in Chung Kwok Cheung, a very bad lawyer, and very human.
2. Why must the actors, when they're portraying lawyers always take a pen into their hands and point left right up down and centre when they're arguing their case? That is so rude!
3. Why must they always show the losing lawyer looking all sad and unhappy when they lost a case even when they know they deserved to lose? Why can't they show them smiling for once that they were happy to have lost a case because they knew that person they were trying to convict was guilty as hell? Are lawyers all so egoistical such sore losers? Don't you DARE say yes!!
4. Why must they show lawyers looking really surprised when something unexpected was presented in court? In a civil case, there would be no surprise because everything would have to be pleaded in the paper filed into court. Criminal case maybe. And why all look like a sore loser?
5. Why must TVB plagiarize from other series? Ahhhhh....in Untraceable Evidence Dr Lip was actually Dr Scarpetta from the books by Patricia Cornwall but was she acknowledged? There were glaring similarities but UE was a poor copy of the excellent books, because Dr Lip seem more preoccupied with love than with corpses and her job. In this series we see some real thing. We see Mark and Joe working until 2 am. Very real. BUT one scene was very laughable. Any fan of The Practice would have noticed that scene. Toby was assaulted by a masked rapist but she was saved in the nick of time by Fai. But she saw his tattoos and remembered him. Mark was defending an old friend of Fai, a former police for another case and Sammi found out he was the wanted rapist. But Mark being the professional guy said they cannot reveal the fact that he was the rapist since they were defending him and moreover he really didn't do this case they were defending him. He was too busy assaulting Toby to rape another woman in another place. And so Sammi was angry with him but understood the term professionalism. And then Mark suddenly called Sammi's house which Toby lived there as well and the answering machine recorded what he said. He reminded Sammi in the phone call not to reveal the fact that the man they were defending was actually the wanted rapist. Toby heard that and ran to report the truth. Later Sammi realised Mark deliberately do what he did, so that the culprit is captured.
Now, where have we seen this scene before? Not the same case but same scenario? Yes, The Practice. Bobby Donnell knew the man he was defending was a bad guy and so he called home to his fiancée who was living with her best friend the prosecutor and prosecutor heard the tape and made an arrest. Did TVB credit The Practice? Nope.
By the way, what would you have done? As a lawyer you have a duty to protect your client's interest and so you can't reveal even the fact that he admitted to killing someone but as an officer of the court you owe a higher duty to court in the name of justice. And you have your conscience to deal with. How? What would you have done?
6. This is the one aspect I can't stand. I have never watched a TVB series that depicts bickering co-workers. NEVER. All are so darn sweet to each other, so supportive though most would be hypocrites. In this series, we see more workers gossiping than working and that is just so fake! We have nice understanding bosses, gossipy but not malicious co-workers. Where is the dog eats dog world? Give us a more accurate portrayal perhaps.
7. One funny fact which is not really a criticism. In the first scene and then in the almost last scene, we see Kenix sleeping on top of documents, piles and piles of papers and books. On a far look, I would applaud TVB's attention to details but on closer look, except for those legal documents, everything else was out of place. Kenix was supposedly doing research, but all her text books were Legal dictionaries. There wasn't even one legal journal or a case book. See the problem here?
8. This one I don't like. We knew how much Mark loved his father, how his father carried him in the rain to see a doctor, how he gave him the best education even though they were poor. By Mark's story, we knew the father died of depression when mommy left. Mark blamed it all on CT Kwan for seducing the mother and thus all these years he couldn't accept CT and mommy didn't want to marry CT because of just that. BUT must they end it with daddy being an abuser and mommy was abused? Why justify Mark's acceptance of CT by showing how bad daddy was? Why can't they just show adults fall in and out of love, mommy did elope with another man and CT did seduced other people's wife and mother? Would it be easier for us to accept CT if daddy had been a bad guy? We all know some fathers abused their wives but loved their children very much but I thought the ending in this series was inappropriate and it was a coward of an ending. Why can't they just show Mark accept CT. No conditions, no terms, no bad daddy image? I don't like this ending at all.
I think Michael Tse gave one of his most heartfelt performance as the shy and boring Joe, right up until the writers decided to make him into a boring wimp. But nevertheless Michael looked refreshed in here unlike his previous few series where he looked haggard.
Sek Sau was quite ok as the formidable and dashing CT Kwan. Not much comments.
Au Gam Tung was quite ok as Fai though he had little to do and little expressions to portray. In other words, he was made redundant and his chemistry with Patricia was non existent at best.
Myolie Wu had nothing to do in here but she was very cute and charming and trust my word; she has what it takes to be big in TVB. But she is still young. I really thought she would have made a good Lin Fah in Gods Of Honour.
Yi Kei was too young to be Hacken Lee's mother but she was ok.
Leo Lee became a household name thanks to ATE II and of course, Love Is Beautiful. Every other day I will receive a mail asking me where they could get pictures of General Man San. I have seen him in a travelogue where he was energetic, cute, at ease and very good looking. Tall as well, like Joe Ma. But this actor has a serious problem in this series. At the beginning he seemed to be too playful, like he wasn't serious in his performance and when he became serious in his performance, he totally bored me to sleep because he had no charisma whatsoever. He can act but he could act minimally. Between the two, I would say Joe Ma is a better actor than Leo Lee. In this series, he had quite a few scenes but frankly, I wasn't impressed.
By the way, if there is a soundtrack, buy the soundtrack. The bests were surprisingly the English songs which suited the mood of this series well. Just don't ask me who sang the songs; let me declare it now...
I HONESTLY DO NOT KNOW.
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