Review: Blue Veins (TVB, 2016)

Blue Veins (殭)

Genre: Modern Supernatural/Romance
Length: 33 episodes
Producer: Joe Chan

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

The Cast

Kevin Cheng as Ying Wut Tsuek
Kay Tse as Lam Mung Nam
Grace Chan as Lam Mung Yiu aka Yoyo
Luk Wing as C Kwan
Winki Lai as Yau Ling Wai
Anjaylia Chan as Ho Yuet
Wong You Nam as Ho Lin
Eddie Kwan as Pong Ying Tin
Joel Chan as Ling Fung
Hubert Wu as Pong Kit

and Moon Lau, Law Lan, Chan Wong, Chloe Nguyen, etc.

The Review

Although I don’t follow TVB’s dramas from conception, blessing ceremony, to the cast meeting the press and all, I still give them the benefit of the doubt and hope for the best. I definitely had expectations for the series and my first impressions didn’t disappoint as I stated earlier. Perhaps because of this, I felt obligated to follow up with the series until it’s finale so I can write a comprehensive review to balance out my earlier impression.

Unlike Over Run Over which started off slow and according to netizens’ sentiments, took half of the series to build up (but I’m still on episode 7), but turned out to be the best series of the year so far (or so some fanatics claim), Blue Veins had a way more promising premise only to amount to what I like to call a “dark sitcom” that dragged out to 30 episodes. With it’s unexplored plot, I think we can really cap it at 20 episodes and it would have been less of a pain for both parties. Eventually, the series became something as chill as us watching the cast members taking selfies. How much did the brand pay to get their selfie stick sponsored btw?

My opinions of the physical aspirations of the series are still the same. Holland is still an aspiring destination to pull the trigger for TVB’s rare supernatural drama with that western, New England feel that I find myself falling for in The Vampire Diaries. The females’ wardrobe are also on point with character throughout and you can tell that they made a bigger effort though most of Kay’s platform boots are barely wearable for everyday, but geez, she can jump, fly, and penetrate walls with them.

The only and most important flop here is really the lack of a storyline and maybe characterization. I mean I didn’t think Kay or Grace’s characterization drove the plot in anyway, but if the writers had a way to make them less dispensable than they were for the story, then I’m in the for the ride. I always prefer my female heroines strong, sassy, and free-spirited for any kind of story with action elements, but I’m open to whatever they write up as long as it makes sense. But it becomes a problem when the only thing that made sense was matching their character to their wardrobe.

Kevin, arguably, had the right elements for a leading man, both the guy’s acting and his character. The guy emotes way better now that he’s been served the Best Actor award twice by the same company. But he barely had any chemistry or touching moments with his two females, Kay and Grace. If anything, the best chemistry was between the younger cast: Luk Wing, Anjaylia, Winki, and Wong You Nam. In the last third of the series, their friendship and relationship development was what kept me watching. But of course, the writers just have to kill off Anjaylia’s character when she and Luk Wing had the cutest chemistry. They were actually a couple that complemented each other well where their physical compatibility isn’t wonky like Wong You Nam and Winki or the effort isn’t one-sided like the faint-of-heart females Kevin had to babysit. But Anjaylia’s death? I think it was more for impact than storyline.

For a series that claims to fall into the supernatural and fantasy genre, anything and everything supernatural was left unexplored, undiscovered, mysterious, and whatever synonym you may wish to describe from here on. In the finale episode, even Winki who was giving something similar to that of a TED Talk (and when a guest ask about the undead) was like, “The undead? That will always be a mystery.” I highly doubt viewers sit through 30 episodes to hear that line. We want answers!

Of course, by the finale I didn’t have any hopes for the drama anymore, but I had to face palm myself once more when they tried to wrap everything up by pulling the “Kay and Joel are from the future” plug and vampirism is not supernatural (but it can be), but it’s an illness. Perhaps I had voluntarily let Vampire Diaries brainwash me to feel one way, so TVB’s way to connecting it to ecoli was almost laughable.

Anyway, it was a happy ending and Grace who became a semi-villain out of jealousy turned out to be a goody good girl again because her “illness” was cured.

Characterization and Performances

Kevin Cheng. Observant and strong, Kevin is well-versed in martial arts because he participated in The Great Vampire War and is one of the infamous Imperial Brocade Guards of the Ming Dynasty. He is reluctant to receive Kay’s love because she is a vampire, a species who is dead enemies with the undead like himself. He accepts her love when she saves him with her blood. So touching. Not.

I mentioned before that Kevin was the real reason I watched this and not the supernatural/vampire themed storyline. Anyway, even an unique Yuen Wah look and interesting premise can’t save a bad story. For a lead character, he didn’t have enough to work with other than being a mentor and fighting off evil vampires. 4/5

Kay Tse. Even by the end, I have no idea what the writers had in mind for her. Her character simply made me indifferent and more apathetic by the finale. For a forensic scientist, she was really irresponsible to not go to work after discovering her vampirism. So for almost 20 episodes, she was just hiding away and dealing with her vampirism all by herself.

I feel just as indifferent towards her character as her performance. 2/5

Grace Chan. Even though Kevin choose the older sister over her, at least there was something about her that is discussion-worthy. For example, why would she want to turn into a vampire before the guy reciprocated your love? Even before the two dated? The fact that she turned because she found his love story with her twin-from-another-century touching makes her such a weak and almost unsympathetic female character. Perhaps for the love stories this time, the writers were looking from inspiration in some Korean romantic drama.

Grace’s emotional scenes here is perhaps the best you’ll see from all her performances so far. It’s toned down and even when she started talking, there was no screaming. But at the same time, her sweet and mellow character didn’t need that either. I love how Kevin is bringing out a new side of her, not personality wise, but something that’s beneficial for her career. 3/5

Luk Wing. Indecisive, but responsible and with morals, Luk Wing’s scenes has the most comedic timing not to mention I love her big round glasses paired with a polished tux look. It only gets better when he starts practicing kung-fu stances in that getup. His relationship with Anjaylia was easily the sweetest of them all, but they had to kill her off to leave some kind of emotional impact.

I’m a little biased over Kevin, but C Kwan can easily be my favorite character. His character was developed and well-rounded even though he may not have as many scenes as the leads. 5/5

Anjaylia Chan. The youngest, shortest, and cutest of the younger cast members, but her personality is just the opposite: patient, mature, and willing to look after the others, constantly compromising and bridging broken friendships wherever whenever possible.

Perhaps even the writers know that her female character is the best and if there was any character to kill off for a memorable impact it would be hers. They couldn’t do that to Kay because we’ll just be indifferent towards that plot trigger or Grace because we’ll be relieved that she’s finally dead.

For her first TVB drama, she definitely delivered way more than the other females, both in quality of character and performance. 4.5/5

Winki Lai. A rough childhood turned her into someone interested in all things supernatural, whether that’s a hobby or coping mechanism, but one thing for sure is that it blossomed into a career at the end.

I love her outspokenness as annoying as she can get, but at times I see myself in her shoes when I have no constraints. I grew tired of her redhead halfway through, but it’s still better than the mama wig they gave her in the finale. Again, for her first TVB drama, I enjoyed her as part of a new cast. 4/5

Wong You Nam. Impulsive and emotional, he usually makes rash and less intelligent decisions. Not to judge a book by it’s cover, but his contrast with C Kwan is on point if you check out the way they dress. As an author with a lousy style, sometimes you’ll wonder were he gets his inspiration from. Like C Kwan, he had a crush on Grace until he slept and got Winki pregnant.

He did well for his role, but I’m quite indifferent towards the character. 4/5

Eddie Kwan. You would think that someone who has lived for over 500 years will be less stubborn, but Eddie’s character was a failure to begin with. At first, I was wondering what kind of villain he’ll be like, but that interest quickly faded when he began looking for the cure to vampirism for his son. Not that fatherly love isn’t touching, but the fact that he turned him into a vampire to save his life so that he can find the cure to turn him back to human. Why? So he can live a happy human life and die gradually?

There are simply too many loopholes and no logic to his character. His acting was good, but his stubbornness made his performance too one-dimensional and hard to root for even as a veteran. 3/5

Joel Chan. He appears in the beginning as he engages in many physical battles with Kevin, but he loses a lot of screen time when he becomes trapped by Eddie.

What a waste of talent as Joel is one of my favorite supporting actors these days. His character spent more time biting and turning humans into vampires than talking or actually being a character with any substance. Nothing kills a villain like being one-dimensional. He felt like a villain you needed to kill off from a video game. If it wasn’t for the actor, he’ll definitely get a lower rating. 2/5

Overall Evaluation

As bitter as the lack of a real storyline made me feel, the series isn’t without merits. It was quite successful in marketing new acting talent to us and it’s that novelty feeling that you can’t get in another drama most of the time. Aside from the two leading females, it’s still above average performances but like every series (especially those with more substance) you set out to watch, you probably won’t go back to it if it doesn’t have a memorable storyline.

You can only market something once, whether it’s a brand new cast or alluring filming destination, but it boils down to the real deal, which is a plot that drives, to keep viewers from watching it again.

The Verdict

I truly enjoyed the first five episodes and it’s as fast as the pacing gets. Worth a try whether it’s for the story setup or the new faces, the decision is yours.

  • I’m kinda sad. I really liked Blue Veins. The romance was a little meh, but I thought the plot was awesome! Every plot twist had explanations behind them. *SPOILERS* Like with the reveal of vampirism being a disease. They reference the vampire cells very early on and then at the very end reveal that it’s actually curable. I don’t know why I didn’t expect it but I thought that was a very reasonable reveal and a bit of a shock despite them treating vampires as if they were diseased and extracting blood from them. I find that the plotline for this drama to be the best one out of all the ones I’m currently watching from TVB. Maybe it’s because I’m not focusing on the romance aspect which was pretty weak for the main cast. The minor cast did a better job, since their chemistry was better.

    • Hi Karen,

      I too agree that the younger cast did well and I would love to see them again!

      The problem I had with the plot twists is that they were too stand alone and while they were good ideas on it’s own, there is a at least a good 15 episodes where the show was going no where and the main cast had nothing to do, especially Kay and at one point, even Kevin. The main cast and the young cast also seemed alienated and didn’t have much to do as a whole. Sure, Kevin was their mentor and came to the rescue and that’s about it. At one point it almost seemed like TVB were throwing the young cast in for promotion (though it’s effective) and the fact that they took spotlight from the main cast made me wonder what’s the point of Kay and Grace’s character at all.

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