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Golden Faith
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Golden Faith (45 Episodes)
* Reviewed by do^aho

CAST (in Hanyu Pinyin):
Paul Chun as Mr. Ding Rong Bang
Gallen Lo as Ding Shang Ben
Deric Wan as Zhong Shou Kang
Raymond Lam as Ding Shang Xing
Jessica Hsuan as Cheng Tian Lan
Michelle Yip as Cheng Xiao Yu (Jessica's sister)
Shek Sau as Xiong Bai Tou
Anne Heung as Gui Li Fu

THE STORY:

Gallen Lo is orphaned at young age and was adopted by Paul Chun (Ding Rong Bang), a renowned jeweller in Hong Kong who treats him like his real son. He then takes on the name of Paul's dead son, Ding Shang Ben. However, his real name is Zhong Tian En and is the elder brother of Deric Wan (Zhong Shou Kang).

On a trip to Perth, Australia, he meets Cheng Tian Lan (Jessica Hsuan) and they had a few incidents, which sort of bring them together. As they are about to begin a relationship together, Gallen is called back to Hong Kong because of his father's side business.

And due to this incident, he gets into trouble with the law; he crosses paths with an undercover police officer, Zhong Shou Kang (Deric), who happens to be his long lost brother. He also faces prosecution by Jessica, who happens to be the Deputy Prosecutor for the case. However, he manages to embark on a relationship with Jessica though they face a rocky beginning.

However, in the middle of their relationship, they face a new crisis -- Fu, who sacrifices much for Gallen. As a result, Gallen decides to give up the relationship because of obligation to Fu.

REVIEW:

I find this a pretty good drama, with complicated plots and themes as well as solid narration. Great parallels are drawn between the strength of the bonding between brothers: Ding Rong Bang and his brother, Ding Shang Ben and his two brothers Deric and Raymond. The only thing that I don't quite like is that the pace of the story is going too fast for my taste. I feel that GOLDEN FAITH shouldn't be packed into a 45 episode serial and should be given a longer time period, allowing for the intricate plot to be developed more fully.

Every episode is filled with too much action that I find hard to swallow. The very first episode has established almost all the leading characters; the set up of Gallen and Jessica's budding romance; the introduction of Paul's side business which opens the conflict between the two brothers Gallen and Deric; and finally, the establishment of the complexities of each character's relationship with one another. For example, both brothers, Gallen and Deric (who didn't know then that they are brothers) are in love with Jessica. Meanwhile, Michelle is secretly carrying a torch for Deric. Raymond gets himself entangled in a love triangle with Deric's cousin and Fu's best friend, Moon. Phew, isn't that hard to swallow?

And because of the complex natures of each character's relationship with one another, these are all established very early into the drama, creating a sense of the plot being rushed through its paces. I find it a pity as there is potential for "Golden Faith" to be one of TVB's best productions ever because of the gripping action despite the lack of proper pacing; great lines written for the characters at times can be quite draggy; the story plot, more complicated than "At the Threshold of an Era", lacked rhythm in the placing of climaxes.

The ending of the drama is a BIG disappointment though... MAJOR SPOILERS: Having Deric's character having temporary amnesia just because he has personally shot Gallen? And having Deric blaming Raymond for the misdeed he has done, and allowing Raymond himself to bear it just to atone for his sins? A little far-fetched for one to accept it, don't you think? I personally think it's just an easy way out to tie all the loose ends of this drama together and this is the reason why I think "Golden Faith" should be lengthened to more than 45 episodes.

One major problem I have with regard to the character development for "Golden Faith" is Gallen's character, Ding Shang Ben. There is absolutely no character development for him. He is Mr. Goody two shoes through out the serial, which is almost too good to be true, isn't it? He is too perfect until one begins to wonder: can such a person actually exist in the real world?

What does the character, Ding Shang Ben, WANT in his life and WHY does he want it? So what does Ding Shang Ben want to achieve? It wasn't clearly stated until possibly around the middle of the drama. He was constantly directed by coincidental happenings that push him forward. He seems like a little pebble bumping aimlessly by a fast moving stream. He is directionless, dedicating his life to achieving his foster father's dreams. He sacrifices his love (Cheng Tian Lan) for the sake of another woman (Gui Li Fu).

One weird point struck me is the opening of this drama: The journey to Perth. It seems to me more of a promotion to Perth, Australia than the establishment of a drama production.

Well, despite all the shortcomings, this is still a good drama to watch. Though with its over-the-top with extravagant story plots and complicating back stories of the leading characters; its gripping narration still keeps you on the edge of your seat, and definitely the acting from its star studded list will keep you interested =)

CASTING:

LEADING CHARACTERS -

Gallen Lo as Ding Shang Ben -- Major disappointment as there is no character development; however Gallen still delivers a satisfactory performance as Ding Shang Ben. Memorable moments are all the scenes he had with Jessica, especially the time they spent in Perth. Despite the lack of development, one can't help but still be in love with Gallen for his portrayal of Ding Shang Ben. You'll cry, laugh with him throughout the drama; you'll feel his pain, his anguish when he faces problems or conflicts, or when he is faced with distrust from family. You'll feel pride for him as he bravely faces his adversaries.

Deric Wan as Zhong Shou Kang -- I would say Deric gave a rather disappointing performance in "Golden Faith" as compared to "Good Against Evil". Here, he acts as a cocky and chauvinistic cop who is surprisingly willing to swallow his pride and sacrifice anything for the sake of his love interest, Jessica. He places her as first priority over anything, which, though endearing, is rather contradictory (a personal opinion). Anyway, his performance fails to make me connect with his character. Though there is no character development for Deric as well, somehow, his interpretation of the role lacks depth and focus, which leaves the viewers feeling detached, unlike Gallen's portrayal. Gallen faces the same problem too no character development, but he was still able to give the character a multidimensional level which makes viewers attached to his character.

Jessica Hsuan as Cheng Tian Lan -- Jessica seems to be stereotyped in playing the same character portrayal: self righteous, independent woman who always has rocky relationships with the men in her life. However, she fails to portray the sophistication of the role a lawyer. Though she looks chic and classy in a suit, she fails to bring out the 'super career woman' image, which only Flora Chan possesses. It is the bearing of such a person that cannot be imitated and thus Jessica cannot be blamed for failing to carry out the role.

SUPPORTING CHARACTERS-

Raymond Lin as Ding Shang Xing - His performance here is rather exaggerated, and I find it hard to stomach though it's more of the scriptwriters' fault than his interpretation of the role. Ding Shang Xing is a happy-go-lucky person who has to help out in his father's business. Through the treachery of his uncle, he becomes bad, though not losing his conscience. Towards the end, he becomes remorseful of the misdeeds he has committed because he has trusted the wrong person, and decides to atone for his mistakes. Though ideally this is a great chance for Raymond to fully display his acting talent to the viewers, his acting is too exaggerated for viewers to believe in his character. No words can describe how I feel when watching him act, especially towards the ending. I find it ridiculous and almost painful to watch even towards the ending.

Michelle Yip as Cheng Xiao Yu (Jessica's sister) - This character seems rather redundant in the drama and that is how I feel when watching the production. Her appearance in the show seems rather sudden, and then she was introduced as Jessica's sister. Then, she falls in love with Deric but hides her feelings when she finds out that Deric likes Jessica instead. This is an interesting point but the scriptwriter fails to develop it fully, (which brings me to the point: it should be extended to more than 45 episodes!!) bringing it an abrupt halt and suddenly, Cheng Xiao Yu appears nonchalant about the relationship.

Michelle fails to grasp the depth of her role here, resulting in a two dimensional portrayal in the production. A pity, for despite the constraints of this role, there is much potential in giving the character a more emotional depth: for example, when she comes to realize that Deric loves her sister; when she comes to face her fears in the tarot reading scene; when she finally reveals her feelings to Deric, and so on. Michelle's acting comes across as wooden. The way she says her lines are almost emotionless and flat.

Shi Xiu as Xiong Bai Tou - Shi Xiu's portrayal as Xiong Bai Tou is... how can I describe? EVIL! Yesh! There is something about the production that is commendable at last! =) This guy, Xiong, is the villain and I really relish watching Shi's performance here. A refreshing baddie from the other villain in the drama Ding Rong Bang's younger brother.

I shan't say anymore about him. All I wanna say is if there is any reason given by me to watch GOLDEN FAITH, it's because of HIM =P

do^aho's Rating: * * * 1/2 (Scale of 5)

 

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Golden Faith
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