Sluggish but touching dramas

LOVING COUPLE: Chinese TV show Ip Man focuses on the tender relationship between iconic gongfu master Ip Man (played by Kevin Cheng) and wife Cheung Wing Sing (played by Cecilia Han).
Sluggish but touching dramas

TOP INSPECTOR: Wayne Lai (in foreground) plays the arrogant but extremely intelligent Inspector Columbo Ko in Bullet Brain.


    Jul 18, 2013

    Sluggish but touching dramas

    IP MAN

    Every Saturday, 7.45pm

    VV Drama (StarHub Ch 855) and VVD on Demand (StarHub Ch 857)

    Rating: 2.5/5

    THERE have been far too many films lately about iconic Chinese gongfu master Ip Man, best known as Bruce Lee's martial-arts teacher.

    Actor Donnie Yen has done it (twice), and so have actors Dennis To, Tony Leung and Anthony Wong.

    Now, China is offering its version of the gongfu master's story, in the first TV production based on Ip Man's life, with popular Hong Kong actor Kevin Cheng helming the role.

    Produced by Suzhou Funa Films and Television, the 50-parter follows Ip on his journey from growing up as an inquisitive child to being a young man caught in the politics of the Chinese revolution and, eventually, to becoming a gongfu grandmaster.

    Cheng, at 43, is handsome leading-man material, so casting a big-name star like him was a smart move by the producers.

    But as he does not have a martial-arts background, the show loses credibility on its gongfu aspect.

    Unlike Yen's films which focus on fighting, this TV show - which premieres on Saturday - focuses on the tender relationship between Ip Man and wife Cheung Wing Sing (played by Cecilia Han).

    But this is a martial-arts show after all, and the fact that Cheng can't fight proves to be his stumbling block.

    The show's determination to explore each scene thoroughly means pacing is sluggish and draggy.

    Word has it that Cheng pocketed seven million yuan (S$1.1 million) to act in Ip Man. Plans for a sequel are in the pipeline, with him set to reprise his role.

    Let's hope the fat pay cheque will inspire him to take the time to brush up on his fighting skills.


    Weekdays, 8pm

    VV Drama (StarHub Ch 855) and VVD on Demand (StarHub Ch 857)

    Rating: 2/5

    This latest crime series from Hong Kong's TVB is not cut from the same cloth as usual modern-day detective dramas.

    Bullet Brain is set in the 1960s when the Internet didn't exist (and policemen wore shorts). Then, solving crimes was not as easy as it is now and was based mostly on wit.

    Enter Inspector Columbo Ko (played by Wayne Lai), a genius who has an IQ of 283. He's great at cracking cases, but is so nasty and arrogant that he is someone you'd love to hate.

    The fact is, Ko was shot in the head while on a case. Although he recovered, his personality changed and he became aloof and extremely intelligent.

    This 25-parter starts with him foiling a kidnapping attempt and then showing off to reporters the ingenious tactics he used to crack the case.

    Before the audience is given its next dose of crime-fighting, the plot becomes draggy with flashbacks.

    You find out that before Ko got shot, he was a dim-witted country bumpkin who had a close friendship with Sergeant Pau Ping On (played by Ngo Ka Nin).

    The series continues to dwell on the past, and even tells the story of Ko's father.

    Although the recollections are necessary for the plot's progression, they tend to be a tad too drawn out, which may leave viewers feeling bored.

    What kept the show worth watching was the friendship between Ko and Pau.

    In one memorable scene, Pau goes to extremes to ensure Ko is taken to a hospital after he suffers from a severe bout of migraine.

    Bullet Brain is not your typical cop drama, but a story that centres on human relationships and love.

    You just have to sit through multiple flashbacks first.