Review: My Dangerous Mafia Retirement Plan (TVB, 2016)


My Dangerous Mafia Retirement Plan (火線下的江湖大佬)

Genre: Modern Comedy/Family
Length: 25 episodes
Producer: Leung Choi Yuen

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The Cast

Kent Cheng as Ho Kei Song
Alice Chan as So Yau Lum aka “Lum Jeh”
Eliza Sam as Ho Foon Sum aka Joyce
Kingdom Yuen as So Yau Miu aka “Miu Jeh”
Matt Yeung as Liu Shau Kei
Joel Chan as Ko Kai
Tommy Wong as Lau Cheuk Lam
Amy Fan as Fei Fei

and Lee Sing Cheung, Cilla Kung, Roxanne Tong, Winki Lai, Law Lok Lam, Rainbow Ching, Jess Shum

The Review

After the terribly slow-pace Blue Veins that was almost brain draining, I just needed a break from watching TVB and I was just too close to skipping over this one. I don’t see comedies as a big deal to skip over if I don’t have time, but it’s usually these light-hearted comedies that TVB does best in. I was relieved that Mafia was everything the opposite of what Blue Veins was and despite it simply going back to what TVB is normally good at, I couldn’t really complain. To say the least, Mafia was entertaining and enjoyable. At it’s best, it went beyond the easy slapstick comedy and for it’s genre, had more depth than I’d expected.

For a comedy, we get to see brotherhood loyalty and betrayal, how it’s nearly impossible to get people to trust us again after an unclean past, and how the differences and resentment from the last generation creates a forbidden Romeo and Juliet type love. The first two are always relevant whatever decade you are living in, but the last one is a bit outdated, but I’m sure somewhere this is happening to someone.

The casting choices were safe by bringing back veteran actors Kent, Tommy, and Kingdom who are always good at what they do. I always feel that Kent is one of those actors that I don’t mind watching, but his acting never leaves any impact on me. A triad follower turned master chef, I also didn’t know to be humored or annoyed by the number of times he uses the equivalent of Facebook likes to describe something, someone, or a circumstance within the series. It’s like this decade’s people don’t have a better way to express their “like” for something because social media makes it so one-dimensional.

Tommy displayed force and energy in his portrayal, but he’s not as memorable here without the “Wong Cho Lam father” reference. Being in Inbound Troubles definitely made him a recognizable face. He definitely had the look to be a (former) triad boss and lol when he attempted a Korean look to woo his wife (Amy Fan) back.

Given that Kingdom was a little over-the-top here in her reactions, her comedic lines were still very on point and hilarious most of the time as the cosmetic shop owner selling knockoff products. Not traditionally pretty or sexy by any means, you just love it even more when Kingdom gave a lecture to that salesperson passing out flyers in the mall, “No matter what age a girl is, you should always call her pretty girl baby.” On the other hand, Kingdom displayed more exaggeration when she received a scar on her forehead that she demanded to get plastic surgery on that was clearly not a big deal.

It was also excellent at promoting and giving Eliza and Alice a taste of being the co-female leads, in which both actresses delivered. Eliza is definitely more charismatic than the average TVB fadan and perhaps it was because being in a comedy was easy and fun to play, for this kind of genre, her character had more reason for existence than just being plain funny. In fact, I found her tough mentality and physique to be a good balance of the sweet and happy-go-lucky Eliza we usually all expect. Despite being an investment adviser at her day job, her true passion is in lion dancing and kung fu. As a result, she grew up to become a woman with both brains and physical strength.

Eliza’s character is definitely very much like many girls who grew up in traditional Asian families where their parents believe that the best for them means working in a large, reputable firm and dressing up in suits. Other than lion dancing competition scene, I found the lion dancing scenes quite boring and the crew a bit loud and annoying. Finally, Eliza had such a chic wardrobe here, it was the next best compliment to her already bubbly and lovable personality.

In this case, she definitely outshine her co-star Matt, who had a stab at playing a somewhat co-male lead, but with Kent and Tommy’s brotherhood and amount of screen time they received and a somewhat of a pushover-type character, it was a little hard for the guy to shine despite being tall, handsome, and the star amongst the cops. Stuck between being a filial son and a supportive and caring boyfriend, sometimes it’s hard to root for Matt and you’ll wonder why a star cop is such a pushover when it comes to family matters. His father having suffered a severe leg injury from capturing Kent, he forces his son to go after Kent even 20 years later. Being a typical Asian parent, he also supports his son in his career over a woman whose family background he highly questions.

Alice plays a completely different type of character here where there’s no pretentiousness, glamour, business, or low-cut dresses that reveals her long legs. She’s not the spoiled and rich brat we saw in With or Without You either, but she is still sassy when she needs to be and a rather brave woman who stands up for her husband, protects her non-biological daughter, and you’d wonder why she would do all that just for a very simple and frugal life. But hats off to her.

Joel Chan rounds off the cast as the typical humble “nice guy who finishes last” type character. It was quite obvious that Eliza saw Joel as the big brother throughout and Matt as the boyfriend. I still can’t believe that Joel who plays a security guard by day and lion dancer during his free time is in fact, the son of a wealthy businessman in some foreign country. When asked why he never revealed his identity until the last two episodes, he innocently said, “You guys never asked so I didn’t reveal.” You’ll love Joel’s commitment to Eliza’s happiness, but the fact that he didn’t know his worth in the Hong Kong dating market, now, that’s a little naive even for a nice guy like him.

The charm of the series comes from it’s simplicity of family life and while some of the characters are almost too cliched and their thinking is too traditional, it’s still very relatable with all the down-to-earth characters. The mafia triad aspect is a bit unusual, but at the same time, kept the show running with Tommy as a borderline villain at various parts, first, when he learned that is bro stole his mistress and again, when his wife, mistress and closest friends schemed to steal his money 20 years ago.

The series was well-paced and an incredibly fast, easy, and smooth watch. I finished 25 episodes in less than a week. For some reason, not having saw the trailer nor read the synopsis, just from seeing the “grunge” poster, I was initially turned off by the series because I thought it was set in the pre-modern times.

The Verdict

It’s one of those mindless TVB dramas that you just throw on, but keeps your brain flowing without having to really use it. Expect some laughs from Kingdom, you’ll definitely like Eliza and Alice, and everyone else doesn’t disappoint, but isn’t rave-worthy either. Another tip is to watch it over dinner because being the owner of a family restaurant, Kent’s cooking often made me hungry. ;)

  • So glad I could find a review for this. I actually really liked this series – Blue Veins was huge turn-off for me. I thought they played the reluctant aging gangsters scenes very well.

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