Review: Dead Wrong (TVB, 2016)

Dead Wrong (致命復活)

Genre: Modern Drama/Thriller/ Mystery
Length: 28 episodes
Producer: Lam Chi Wah

The Rating: 5/5 stars

The Cast

Roger Kwok as Wai Yat Sing aka Vincent
Joey Meng as Cathy
Kenny Wong as Lam Ho Yan
Vincent Wong as Max
Rebecca Zhu as Queenie
Stephanie Ho as Tracy
Zoie Tam as Emma
KK Cheung as C.K.
Tyson Chak as West

and Koo Ming Wah, Stephen Wong, Yu Yang, Susan Tse, Savio Tsang, Eileen Yeow, Toby Chan, etc.

The Review

Hands down, Dead Wrong is the most adventurous series of 2016 both by TVB production standards and for viewer experience. And you’d be surprised because prior to the premiere, there is literally little to no promotion for the series. I’ve never heard of the series until the second episode aired. Whether or not it’s filmed deliberately to be an anniversary or not, it’s effective as one. Once again, a good script doesn’t need all the promotions or eye candy that Two Steps from Heaven had.

Due to the nature of the series, it’s a mystery and a thriller so I won’t spoil it for you by mentioning the plot. Now, was the series realistic? No. Was it engaging? Yes. Was it a thriller? You bet!

Dead Wrong dropped a good amount of clues from the first two episodes if you pay close attention. Why was Joey teary-eyed when he called Roger who was in Vietnam? Was she worried that something was going to happen to him because she knew something was going to happen? Why was Joey willing to risk her legal license to prevent Roger from going to jail when (we thought) she first learned of Roger’s affair with another woman?Was she trying to make up for something she’d done?

Also, it wasn’t mentioned why Kenny was so willing to help and risk his life to find Roger. Were they best friends? There must be something in it for him right? And why were Koo Ming Wah and Joey robbed once they step foot into Ho Chi Minh City? Someone must know that they had bags of loaded cash with them.

What I found that was most ridiculously entertaining was the number of people who accidentally saw an opportunity in Roger’s kidnapping. Because KK Cheung wanted to preserve his reputation and get back at Roger for wanting to flee him, he sent Roger to Vietnam to pacify a worker’s revolt that turned into an accidental kidnap. Because Koo Ming Wah needed cash flow for his business, he reluctantly robbed the ransom money. Kenny who found an opportunity to keep Joey for himself killed the last one of the kidnappers so no one will know of Roger’s whereabouts. I mean, the guy was Kenny’s childhood enemy anyway, so why not (*shrugs)? But the most ridiculous misunderstanding goes to Joey who un-decisively told one of the kidnapper’s how heartbroken she is to find that Roger has cheated on her.

Now if there was anyone who was truly innocent but Roger still blamed, he was Vincent who for God’s sake only didn’t rescue him because he was traumatized by everything that was happening at the moment.

Aside from the blood-shed thriller and mystery unraveling, the series also takes place in some of the most beautiful islands and landscapes in Vietnam. And more than once. Though you’d wonder why all the best and worst memories take place there. Where it begins is where it shall end.

Characterization and Performances

Now I definitely wasn’t thrilled about the cast as I was about the storyline, but it was a cast that worked out fairly well in the end. I went from being indifferent about Roger and Joey as a couple to actually wanting them to end up together again after their split. The turning point moment for me was when Joey would rather kill Kenny herself than to have to see Roger do it and be sentenced to jail for it.

Despite what people think or want, I don’t think Roger as Wai Yat Sing is Best Actor worthy. Perhaps I’ve seen Roger in quite a few thrillers now in the last few years that Dead Wrong doesn’t stand out as his signature work. Neither am I surprised by Joey’s acting, but she does make a very youthful forty-something actress that still looks half her age. No wonder why Roger preserved for 10 years for her, Kenny lost a leg for her, and even one of the kidnappers’ lost a life for her. #itsworthit

Ever since I saw Kenny in The Executioner, I thought he makes a very convincing stone-faced murderer. I can’t say that I was exactly thrilled for his role, but there should be less surprise that he’s another cold-blooded killer here again. His lack of expressions make me indifferent about him both as an actor and character, but his losing a leg for a woman he loved was no easy feat either. He did redeem himself when he chose suicide because he knew Joey will always sacrifice more for Roger, even if it means killing him. By choosing suicide, Kenny at least shows some sacrifice for Joey, whom he claims he loved and not only wanted to have control over. I’m glad Kenny finally took the high route in this because I really wanted his love for Joey to be real.

I’m not sure if it was the leather jackets with the clean white-collared shirts and ties or the motorcycles and rock climbing, but Vincent is the hottest he has ever been here! Unlike Roger who lost his woman and son after 10 years of being hidden away, Vincent has two ladies vying for his attention throughout the show. One who lost her sight and the other who lost her life for him. Still, I felt that he barely had any chemistry with either one of them. Zoie spent too much time looking depressed and looking down on people, but after hearing her backstory, I can offer a little sympathy.

Initially, I really thought the writers were going to throw Vincent together with Stephanie so when Zoie and Vincent starting kissing, I’m like, “Whhaaat no!” Not that Vincent and Stephanie were that much more compatible, but at least Steph was more likable. Furthermore, it either feels like Steph is always playing the same cutesy roles or the cuteness is finally beginning to wear off on me after a few of the same old roles.

The best chemistry didn’t come from any of the couples per say, but I loved the loyal friendship and camaraderie that Tyson and Vincent had for Vincent.

As a second female lead, Rebecca’s existence was quite pointless. She liked Roger, but wasn’t very assertive in action. Even when she knew Joey was somehow involved in her sister’s death, she was quite passive. Alright maybe by the time she learned that, it was too late in the finale for another revenge plot, but my point is Rebecca doesn’t do much other than remain too calm in the series. Like Zoie, she always seems to look worried onscreen. I’d admit the mature look and short hair really grew on me and she looks the most elegant she has ever been here. Still, Rebecca makes an uncharismatic and boring actress.

It didn’t take me long to know that KK Cheung had something to do with Roger’s kidnapping though my guess was that he played a larger role in it. And when I heard that he partially did it out of jealousy, it felt a little sappy. Like I said in another review, he plays a villain in every other TVB series these days. Go figure.

Overall Evaluation

Thrillers and mysteries are right up my alley if done well. And Dead Wrong is an example of a thriller that played out well, engaging and well-written. I’m surprised how many people were involved in the final kidnapping though (it’s laughable!), but it seems like TVB writers have been loving this idea of having a “final boss” in every major series. Whenever the protagonist and audience feels like they know the truth and the enemy is dead, someone else emerges as the bigger mastermind. Wah-ha!

Both the successful Line Walker and A Fist Within Four Walls used the same formula, but Dead Wrong goes the extra mile in redeeming all of the characters who played a selfish role in the kidnapping. Joey felt like he didn’t deserve Roger anymore and left for Vietnam to do volunteer work. KK decided not to report Roger to the police for torturing him nearly to death because he understood he was part of the cause. Koo Ming Wah had to face his actions in jail for a few months. But Kenny who was unwilling to let go and face his wrongdoings had to redeem himself in heaven.

Now when I said this series isn’t realistic, is that really so? At the end, beneath the thriller, mystery, kidnapping, and even leather jackets, everyone is a human who makes mistakes. And most of the time people are not willing to face it. Now does that sound more realistic?

The Verdict

Would I watch it again?

Yes all over again — and in a heart beat.