Review: Friendly Fire (TVB, 2012)

Friendly Fire (法網狙擊)
Genre: Legal Drama
Length: 26 episodes
Producer: Man Wai Hung

Rating: 3 1/2 of 5 stars

The Cast

Michael Tse as Kam Cho-Chan aka JJ
Tavia Yeung as Fong Tin-Lam aka Chris
Sammy Leung as Kam Bo-Tei
Sharon Chan as Ngai Mei-San aka Mason
Louis Yuen as Lok Koo-Tin
Grace Wong as Moon
Oscar Leung as Max
Samantha Ko as Kiki
Alice Chan as Pong Tit-Sam

and Benz Hui, Rosanne Lui, Chun Wong, Derek Kwok, Ronan Pak, Mary Hon, Vincent Wong, Mandy Wong, JJ Jia, Sammy Shum, Jack Wu, Cindy Lee, Bella Lam, Joey Law, James Ng, Patrick Tang, Timothy Cheng, etc.

The Review

Friendly Fire is one of TVB’s more memorable lighthearted and witty dramas in it’s recent years. It’s not a grand production. It doesn’t necessarily have a unique plot. In fact, it goes by its same fashion of a procedural drama, case by case. It’s a story about a bunch of lawyers, interns, and cops intwined, but it’s not strictly a legal drama by any means. I’ve came to be pretty disillusioned by TVB’s take on the word legal and their court scenes seems to take greater importance on utilizing pathos to touch its panel of jurors than presenting evidence. Not that they don’t do the latter, they do, but it’s perhaps that Tavia and Derek are too good of a stand-up speaker that I forget that their in court. They would be great if they were advocating for some breast cancer or global warming cause. Lawyers in TVB dramas seem to put more emotions in their cases than I feel actual ones would. That’s my observations from seeing so many years of TVB dramas.

Other than the fact that lawyers in dramas tend to show more passion for their field (not necessarily a bad thing at all) than are real lawyers, there’s actually a lot of praises for this drama, particularly the witty script and chemistry between the cast. Among these, some notable ones is the father and son chemistry between Benz, Michael, and Sammy. Benz proves to be not only to be a responsible father who does everything he can for his two sons, but influential enough that both his sons turn out to be successful in their respective careers through his principles of kinds and compassion.

The second best pair is no other than the adventurous Sammy and Sharon duo. Although they started off as a bickering pair, they resolved their differences early on and before we know it, they are always there for each other when danger arise or when the other needs some emotional support. The fact that they are neighbors makes their relationship even more sweet as Sammy would offer soup to Sharon through his bedroom window and in turn, she would invite him over for a midnight snack. Tavia and Louis questioning of the underlying reasons of Sharon’s kindness towards Sammy was witty and true at the same time, “Hmm… I wonder why you are so nice to Bo-Tei Sir… you guys don’t seem to be just co-workers.” in which Sharon replied, “Of course, we’re also neighbors.” Louis adds, “Hmm… wonder if you’ll be so concerned about that Mrs. Chan downstairs” in which Sharon replied, “Well, she’s not my co-worker.” Louis adds, “Well, I wonder if you’ll be that kind to Tam Sheung-Geng” and Sharon’s reply is, “But he’s not my neighbor…”

As we venture into the ending of Fire, there are a couple of points that comes into question and that did not play a logical part in the series. The first of which is Tavia’s father. Although the act of him wanting to satisfy the last wish of his deceased wife was a meaningful one, the scene seemed random and not very necessary for the series. When did the father become such an important character in the series? In fact, the last 20-30 minutes of the series seemed to be a drag.

Secondly, Tavia rejected Michael again and again because of her determination to end her disease and take fate over her life again. What happened to getting surgery overseas? When did she go? At the end, she seemed to have forgotten about her surgery and ended up having Michael’s baby. All that fuss about her disease did not have a proper ending. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of their breakup for like 20 episodes?

Thirdly, Sharon emphasized that she does not intend nor want to be seen as a sexual object in dramas and would rather win the audiences approval through acting. Yet, throughout the series she repeatedly shows off her long legs in her lounging shorts at home. But the weirdest moment which was when she dashed off from her wedding to rescue Sammy in her wedding gown and high heels! And by the way, the operation seemed dangerous enough… why weren’t SDU members present?

Overall, there are some unrealistic elements like why Sharon would well a dress and heels to an operation and why lawyers would appeal to pathos more than logos at court seen in Friendly Fire. Because of this, I cannot take this as a serious legal or cop drama, but it was definitely a witty and enjoyable series on it’s own.

Characterization and Performances

Michael is finally branching out from his cop roles. I suppose it’s refreshing to see him the prosector attorney this time, but he doesn’t make as great of an impact as Derek in his court scenes. I also felt that JJ carried the most charm in his beginning scenes, when he was still in a relationship with Chris. After that, it seems like supporting characters out-shined him.

Besides Myolie, Tavia is the other reliable choice for the female lawyer in TVB series. Tavia looked more mature than her actual age actually (because of the nose, heavy makeup, and blazers perhaps), but that also meant she complemented Michael better. Chris reminds me of Myolie’s Wong Sze-Fu for a moment. Both are very determined lawyers, but Chris less so for the reputation. Yet my favorite aspects of Chris’s personality is her courageousness, straightforward attitude, healthy lifestyle, and her ability to maintain devotion and passion for life. Fire marks the beginning of me rekindling my fondness of Tavia.

Sammy… all I have to say is this guy can really act! I don’t know what he was doing in hosting all these years although I enjoyed him as a host too. He certainly doesn’t seem like a beginner to acting, and even seems more experienced than his co-star, Sharon. He has numerous hilarious moments, expressions and breaths life into his character throughout the series.

Sharon makes a reliable supporting actress although I question her ability to lead a series. Perhaps if the role is specially tailored for her it might work. Mason shares many sweet and interesting moments with Bo Tei. The couple is also the star pairing of the series.

friendlyfire_samanthakoSamantha is the other surprising factor. Best known for her body, I thought she would be going down the sexy route. I’m even more surprised that she gave a pretty solid performance as the hardworking lawyer intern. She still needs some help in her emotions and tone, but she shows potential.

Although Louis only shares a small amount of screen time here, his character has a special friendship with Chris. I also enjoy the times he tries to bring JJ and Chris together again.

Grace impressed me as Moon for the first time in her acting career. I really liked her personality during her Miss Hong Kong days and hoped it would transition into her acting. Although she hasn’t had many acting opportunities, most of the characters she’s played required seducing men. At first, I thought Moon was no different, but later she proved she has a sweet nature and innocent perspective on love. However, I have a feeling she has a voice that will limit her to be playing only certain characters. Did anyone else find her body con dresses unfitting for secretarial work?

friendlyfire_alicechanThis is Alice’s debut since joining TVB. I see her as being stiff and emotionless in some of her scenes, but that’s also a combination of her acting style and character. She’s physically compatible with Derek here. My only complaint is that I wish TVB would combine her as a villain to the main Fire storyline. (The problem with procedural dramas is usually that those villains don’t make enough of an impact for them to be remembered. Procedural dramas is the easy way out, but not necessarily the most creative anymore.) Is it me or does TVB likes to show off their actresses’s bodies a lot? Like Grace, every outfit she wore was a tight-fitted, one shoulder dress. Doesn’t she feel out of place and odd to be wearing a red party-like body con dress in the middle of the day? I know she’s wealthy, but she obviously stands out from everyone else in the crowd.

Overall Appraisal

Story plot? Average, we get our usual procedural drama. Someone usually gets raped. Someone is a triad member. Someone’s eager for money and would obtain it through illegal insurance. Script? Witty with cute dialogues. Acting? Acceptable, but not enough for a breakthrough. Cast? I liked how even supporting characters stood out (notably, Benz and Samantha). Chemistry? Above average compared to recent series.

Final Verdict

And without any further ado, yes, this is worth watching.