Dead Wrong 致命復活 TVB Review

Hello everyone!

After a post on our premiere and theme song thoughts, we thought we should give a final review of the drama as well.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Wrong_(TV_series) 

Plot Overview: Dead Wrong, its Chinese title literally translated as “ a life-threatening revival,” discusses themes such as revenge, reincarnation, and morality. Vincent Wai (Roger Kwok), our central character, was held hostage in a remote Vietnamese island for ten years, but was thankfully rescued. The drama begins by featuring the sequence of events leading up to the kidnapping and the efforts his wife Yuen Kiu (Joey Mung), family friend Lam Ho-Yan (Kenny Wong), and Wai Yat-Lung (Jerry Ku) to rescue him. 
Vincent was on a business trip there along with his assistants Max Hong (Vincent Wong) and Ivy Yip (Toby Chan) as they were ‘company doctors’ from Outstanding Consulting Group mediating a negotiating between a local factory’s management and its workers. As they celebrated their success, the three ‘company doctors’ were kidnapped onto a remote island by a mob that seemed to be headed by some of the workers. 

It ended up being ten years trapped under a cave and sustained on snakes and insects. Still grappling with this experience, Vincent goes onto a course of revenge to seek out who was responsible for the incident. Over the ten years, Vincent not only has to deal with the trauma but also some new brutalities. Once a decently successful and compassionate individual, Vincent must reconcile his dark desire to retaliate with a humble but assertive appearance. 

Vincent enters Outstanding Group again in order to investigate more and revive his passionate as a consultant. In the process, he reunites with old business partner CK Kwan (KK Cheung) and meets some new colleagues, like adversary Emma Kwok (Zoie Tam) and Ivy’s sister Queenie Yip (Rebecca Zhu).  In his investigation, he also meets Lam Ho-Yan’s cousin Tracy Lam (Stephanie Ho), who deems herself an all-encompassing detective. From this, he began to sum up what old and new people in his life knew about this incident. He is mired in the struggle to know all he can about incident and seems to be nowhere near reaching closure.

The puzzle wasn’t as clear cut as he once thought, and many in his life were involved in this tragic incident. This makes his revenge effort more difficult, and his errors more fatal. How will Vincent accomplish his goals? Will he reach the state of reincarnation away from the wraths of his imprisonment? And what will he gain from this effort anyway?

Ah Tao: I’m just going to say right off the bat that this is my most favourite drama of the year. Aside from some plot inconsistencies I will discuss later, the plot was fairly coherent and it made sense why most outcomes happened the way they did. In my part of the review, I’m going to interpret the central theme of one seeking reincarnation and analyze Roger Kwok's character Vincent Wai. *Please note there is ending spoilers in this part of the review, and this is not about the real-life Vincent Wong*

Using the kidnapping as the central motivation, the entire plot of Dead Wrong is a cycle of Vincent’s efforts to seek closure. You could tell it felt impossible for him to forgive those involved, for he believes this act is dead wrong. There were many stages to this conflict, however, which really added to the multiple personality layers in his character. *Skip to the next bolded sentence if you do not want a plot recap*

Vincent goes through nearly four cycles of searching for the truth and seeking closure but then settling the matter due to the revelations it brought. In his first cycle, he was shocked at the fact he is considered legally dead and goes to Vietnam to investigate the incident, but is opposed by the authorities. Their persistent efforts nearly costs Yuen Qiu’s life, so Vincent decides to be content with life as-is and dedicate himself back to his company. On the outside, he is now living a new life.

Yet, as he was suspected of stealing information from an IT system when Outstanding Group was asked to reorganize a hotel, he began to realize how he was prejudiced by his company, family, and by Yuen Qiu. The underground sewer asylum setting appeared as he wished to take justice into his own hands in this second cycle of reincarnation. Vincent realizes CK, his former business partner, staged this crime to plot against him; he then also finds out CK started the work strike in the Vietnamese factory in the first place. He tries to seek closure by delivering retribution to CK and locking him up in the sewer. CK later tells him, however, that he never planned for the kidnapping and Vincent brings himself back to reality by realizing the evil deed he’s done. He goes to Vietnam to do some soul-searching, but is further set back there as he reunites with Yuen Qiu. She tries to die by suicide because of the pain she suffers when seeing him, so he faces an all-time low.

Vincent begins to be content for the second time around as he utilized his talents for business owners in Shum Shui Po. These acts redeem his positive character as he brushed his past aside for his genuine wish for that community to succeed. Vincent also tries to help Max with asserting status in his family business. But then, Vincent is once again mired in a triple whammy; He has to support Yuen Qiu through an unsuccessful pregnancy despite jealousy from Lam Ho-Yan; He also has to combat a leadership struggle in Max’s family company; and He finds out his brother indirectly contributed to his kidnapping. These events trigger Vincent and show he really isn’t settled after all. Vincent finds out more and more that Lam Ho-Yan actively caused many injustices in his life, even feeding Yuen Qiu sleep medication to create a fake suicide attempt. This was because Ho-Yan loved Yuen Qiu and despised him from the very beginning for taking her away. Vincent goes on his third attempt at retribution against Ho-Yan, indirectly sacrificing Emma and Tracy. In our finale episode, Ho-Yan contaminated Vincent’s drinking water so he begins to lose his sanity and even managed to hold Vincent at gunpoint. Yet, Vincent gains an upper hand and imprisons Ho-Yan in the same cave he was kidnapped in! 

Vincent's son drawing with him in the sewer.
By now, the other people in Vincent’s life figured he was in a dangerous mental state, completely filled with hatred. They end up finding Vincent and Ho-Yan on the cave, and Yuen Qiu even offers to kill Ho-Yan to appease Vincent. Instead, Ho-Yan opts to kill himself because ultimately he was simply driven by pure love for her and feels satisfied passing away in her lap. We reach a third round of contentment as Vincent and Yuen Qiu once again lives together and could realize their mutual love comfortably. But then, Yuen Qiu leaves him and reveals the truth she actually triggered the kidnapping by pleading Mou Tsan-nam (Savio Tsang), Yuen Qiu and Ho-Yan’s friend, to intervene in the apparent affair between Vincent and Ivy ten years ago. Now that was a shocker, and it only came within the last hour of the drama!

Vincent seemed to be yet attempting a fourth round at retribution as he expressed his anger in the sewer by marking down illustrations of his thoughts. But what changes this round is that his son with autism comes to intervene along with the rest of his support figures. Vincent’s son draws a picture of him being protected by his father, and expresses his wish to live together happily with his parents. This was the most definitive healing moment in the drama as Vincent was instantaneously reminded of his responsibilities in life. He breaks through the failed cycles to reincarnate this time and displays an ultimate forgiveness as he goes to Vietnam to search for Yuen Qiu. Instead of plotting revenge against her, he embraces her back into his life, and this is where our story ends.

*End of plot recap* I apologize for the long plot recap, but it goes to show the entire theme of the drama about being reborn into a different life. Vincent is in a dissonant state; in each of the three cycles, he wanted to reconcile the injustice he faced with a single, defined cause. He tries to do this nearly four times as his desire for revenge grew strong and stronger. He needed the cause because without it, he would never get past how he was treated unfairly and would remain with the assumption those in his life intend to harm him. As we saw with him rubbing his hand against his thigh and with his pictures in the sewer setting, even after each ‘content’ phase, he was never actually truly content with the fact he was locked up for ten years in the cave. Vincent is physically no longer chained up in a cave, but psychologically he is constrained by his memories of the trauma.

Vincent can’t really be considered an ‘evil’ character, nor is he the typical morally righteous hero. He is in the grey zone of morality because how unstable he really is, yet we know he is not bad by nature. When he is content, he is able to be in sync with reality and focus on goals external to him like with genuinely helping citizens in Shum Shui Po. Yet, when he is reminded how unfair life has been towards him, he is far, far removed from reality and consumed in his retribution. Vincent didn’t live to regulate and cope with his trauma; his trauma controlled his every move as he was basically a ‘soulless’ revenge machine.

Reincarnation for him is being freed of that cycle and being mentally back in reality. Being reborn is to look forward to new potentials, not backward to past events. What did Vincent’s son do for his father in the finale episode? He reminded Vincent he is a man with a soul and with responsibilities external to his mental state; he is a human capable of spreading positivity. He placed Vincent back into reality and made him realize that the lost ten years have been lost, and plotting revenges will not do much to change that. 

Knowing the truth may help Vincent settle down, but that alone won’t bring closure. Offering subjective forgiveness rather than objective justice was the only way to reconcile his pondering the past and hoping for the future. And as the central message of the drama suggests, the only way to truly settle all conflicts and and truly move on into a calm and content state. So in the end, after many 致命 (fatal) errors, Vincent got the chance to mentally 復活 (reincarnate). 

The shocking last scene!
So what does the easter egg scene after the finale credits mean? I see it as a reminder of how we can be so psychologically constrained to see things a particular way as much as it could suggest something about Vincent’s fate. It’s rare for people to achieve Vincent’s extent of rebirth, for we as humans cannot truly get past of some of our own sorrows. So seeing Vincent locked up in that scene I think is kind of just reminding us of that reality.

Overall, for the fact I could write so much on a TVB drama character (like, how?!), I give this drama a 9/10.

Cee: I will be commenting on the performances of the actors and the characters. Overall, I feel as though the majority of the characters revolved around Vincent Wai (Roger Kwok) and some of them didn't have much to do besides that. 

Starting with Vincent Wai played by Roger Kwok, I am going to try my best to sum up the character and put in my thoughts but I do apologize if it gets too long. In the very beginning, Vincent is shown as a successful "company doctor" that worked for a consulting group opened with his partner CK (KK Cheung). He's a very arrogant man to begin with and does not really show any respect during the meetings with his clients. Instead, he plays puzzles and lets his subordinates Max (Vincent Wong) and Ivy (Toby Chan) talk about their strategy. Really in his mind, he already has everything planned out and just feels no need to tell everyone about them until he starts to execute the steps. Because of this, a lot of people view him as a rude, irrational and risky man. This attitude can be blamed for his kidnapping or the sequence of events that preludes the kidnap. I liked the way Roger played this character, he was very charming with his hair gelled up. When he gets home later in the beginning episode he still carries this vibe when he refuses to help his brother. I enjoyed the scene with the family of three in the little toy house. It was one of the warmest moments in the whole drama. 

The beginning of Vietnam mostly showed the scenery advertising their special travel segment there. It wasn't until the actual kidnapping until we got to see our actors again. The physical trauma was definitely shown through the blood and bruises but the mental trauma was delivered well from Roger and Vincent. Although this scene below was replayed many times I thought it captured the sudden feeling of anxiety, confusion, fear, and desperation as the final moments of your life may be just seconds away. For someone that is as successful as Vincent who lives in a beautiful house with a loving family, having a gun to your head would surely scare you. I just thought I would share the third picture from Vincent Wong's Instagram because it showed another side of the actors that you wouldn't see on screen. The smiles looks very surreal when compared to the whole kidnapping scene. It leaves me wondering if the pic was taken before or after the filming because I doubt one could pull out of the scene so fast and be able to smile on camera. 




Retrieved from: https://www.instagram.com/vincentwong07/?hl=en

The cave scenes were not long as the drama moved onto Vincent returning to HK at the end of two episodes. Although disturbing, I personally would have liked the cave scenes to be longer because the ten years seemed to pass by too quickly so the effect on the audience wasn't as deep as I had hoped for. Instead, I got the feeling he was there for a year. The scene with Vincent in the hospital reuniting with Kiu was heartbreaking and I could tell from this scene that Kiu loved Vincent unconditionally. More on her on the next little thoughts rant. I do truly admire and applaud Roger for taking the risk of losing weight for this drama. This was extremely professional of him despite his older age and the health concerns that he would face. You could really see his sharp, defined face of mere bones. He really went to the fullest extent for this drama. It was a shame he wasn't recognized at the TVB Awards, however I still regard him as one of the best leading actors still working with TVB these days.

As he returns to HK, his main goal is to reunite with his family and quickly rebuild his relationship with his autistic son. Unfortunately that doesn't work as his son is already besties with Yan(Kenny Wong) and of course for plot purposes Kiu is now married to Ah Yan! On top of that the family even betrayed Vincent and declared him dead to get his life insurance money. This was all too much in my books. I would burst if I was Vincent but I felt that he came back a changed person. He now harbours thoughts within himself and I suspect the old Vincent would break ties with his family openly right away. He does stay with them throughout the drama showing what a family man he was which causes a disconnect as he refused to help his brother in the beginning episode. He also didn't do anything to his brother for stealing the ransom to save him while he locked up CK, Yan and made Max (Vincent Wong) help him with his crazy revenge plots. Also with the revenge and hatred that he harboured, I was hoping he would take some action on Emma (Zoie Tam) for bullying his son and ruining the toy event! It was a shame that we never got to see this.. but she didn't have to do with the kidnapping and that was the sole reason behind all his revenge plots!

We later learn that CK was the first person tied to the kidnapping of Vincent. This was because Vincent said he was going to open up a new consulting group INDEPENDENTLY without his master/si fu CK. I did not like how easily CK forgave Vincent for locking him up wrongly and causing him to have a heart attack. After that, CK just never showed up again because his purpose in the drama was over. They never really said what happened and this felt like a loose end that was hastily dismissed in order for the story to continue on. This made Vincent less pitiful and instead, I felt bad for CK!

I am going to talk about Vincent's story with Ah Yan in the part for himself. I am just going to say that I found it to be petty and I got really annoyed at Ah Yan throughout the entire drama.

I thought that the ending they chose to broadcast (they filmed two) was alright but after all that Kathy had done, was she worth going back to? Would you trust someone who was ok with killing someone over jealousy and misunderstandings? I personally am interested in the alternate ending that may provide a better, more realistic closure for the drama.

So in conclusion, he has two fatal flaws that caused his kidnapping. 1) His arrogant nature that caused CK to feel that he was disrespected so he was sent to Vietnam in order to teach Vincent a lesson. Also because of this, his brother got in bad debt without his help so he set up a plan to have people steal the ransom. 2) His love for Ah Kiu caused him to reject Ivy, leading to many misunderstandings and hurt feelings between him and Kiu. Therefore Kiu went and told her old orphan friend who just killed Ivy so that Kiu would be happier. Of course, this friend was not to be trusted and even kidnapped Vincent. Is Vincent the one we should pity? I think not in some aspects since he brought it on himself. His friends also empathized with his experience which is why they let him off easy as well. Roger's portrayal of Vincent was unforgettable.

Cathy Yuen played by Joey Meng - I have never really liked Joey because I find her boring and her voice doesn't fit her character well either. Unfortunately, this time she didn't impress me either. Maybe it was because of the way her character was written, or maybe because I felt that she wasn't quite obvious in her feelings for Vincent which left me confused. In the beginning, she was already being fishy crying while on the phone with Vincent in Vietnam. At first, I thought Chi Chung the son was hospitalized or something... turns out she was just sad that Ivy threatened to break apart their family.


Throughout the searching for Vincent, Cathy really put in a lot of effort and most of it was just running around Vietnam to show some scenery. I immediately suspected Yan when he told Cathy to leave the island that Vincent was on. What was so captivating about Cathy that Yan felt alright with leaving someone to die in a cave? He said that she was an angel back at the orphanage and basically she was the type of person who wouldn't even hurt a fly! But turns out, she basically ordered the death of Ivy! She also wanted to drug Ah Yan, on top of that she offered to kill Ah Yan too!! The photo below is taken from TVB's main page for Dead Wrong under the character section. Wow it says she is kind. I think by the end of the drama, you know she isn't... not for trying to be Vincent's #1 at least.



I don't think she's as innocent as everyone thinks she is. She was quite warped actually and I think she knows deep down that she doesn't deserve the unconditional love from either Vincent or Ah Yan. I felt like her priorities weren't set straight through the whole drama. So in my opinion, she should've just lived in Vietnam for the rest of her life and not come back to Vincent. Honestly, she was quite a selfish woman and didn't really care for her son... She always left him alone and kinda ignored him. Most of the time, Yan would go with him to therapy and she failed to pick him up countless times. She also left her son to go to Vietnam with Yan that time to look for a place to settle. Then they decided to move after Chi Chung finished his term at school for a better transition but suddenly, she got all scared that Yan would kill Vincent and vice versa so she didn't even care about the son anymore. In the end, she left the son to Vincent and his mom to take care of Chi Chung because she felt bad and blah blah. In the description, it says that she takes family seriously which basically means she takes care of them, understands and empathizes with them. I really don't see this! Then there was the whole drama surrounding her pregnancy. I don't understand why she was with Ah Yan when she still loved Vincent and even had a BABY with AH YAN. Like, don't you think you feel bad for doing that if you don't love Yan and still love Vincent? Then she goes and tells Vincent everything and how she is keeping the baby... huh? This is contradictory and I think this is just to emphasize how she is such a kind soul that won't give up a life. This little thing caused such confusion and misunderstanding with Yan which was quite annoying.

The best moments from Cathy were at the beginning when she suddenly turned into a professional career woman talking to the school principal fighting for Chi Chung to stay in the school. I thought this was an incredibly admirable thing to do and this showed her care for Chi Chung. I also thought the flashbacks to when she first met Vincent in Vietnam were cute. It really showed that she was kind and compassionate to the young girl who was hospitalized and lost contact with her family. Overall I thought Joey's portrayal of the character was adequate but it didn't wow me. I blame most of it on the character who loved Vincent too much and lost her morals for him.

Lam Ho Yan played by Kenny Wong - I am just going to say that Ah Yan made me pissed throughout the whole drama. He was just snooping around everywhere and spied on everyone. For the amount of effort he put into listening to people's conversations and following them around, it made me more upset that he misunderstood everything. For example, he installed a listening device on Kiu's phone and only heard her and Vincent talk about not wanting the baby. BUT of course, he missed the most important part about Kiu having a blood illness. This was all for the plot but really made me cringe. He claimed he loved Ah Kiu but even had the heart to poison her and fake an attempted suicide.In the end when they were in Vietnam and Vincent was going crazy trying to find them, Kiu and Yan didn't even resemble a couple anymore. They were both hiding secrets and both of them had tried to harm each other by drugs as well. In the beginning, I liked their relationship as a brother looking out for his younger sister at the orphanage. There's no question about his infatuation and devotion to Kiu but to what measures to keep her by his side? Is having someone by your side more important? Or wishing her well-being while silently protecting her more important? I think Yan really got blinded by his love for Kiu and it led to numerous fatal or near-fatal events including the death of Emma and Tracy being blind for a while. Kenny's performance here was well done. It was pretty standard and he really got his intentions across through his creepy listening and stalking. However, ONE THING THAT WAS MISSING that I would have wanted to see was how Kenny got through his handicap situation. They said that he did have to overcome this but they never showed it. It was actually something I was anticipating because of his background. As an army person I would think his leg would be incredibly important to him. Instead, they skipped it and focused on his stalking skills.

Max Hong played by Vincent Wong - Vincent has always been a stable actor and we all enjoyed watching him in Over Run Over a lot. Max Hong was a new challenge for Vincent as there were intense kidnapping scenes and from there, Max develops PTSD with a hobby of participating in dangerous activities when he is stressed. There is definitely growth in his character from the obedient subordinate of Vincent Wai's to the CEO of his father's company after a decade. You do see the innocence of a rich boy being kidnapped and the absolute distress that it causes him. We later find out that he could have saved Vincent if he had the courage to run the kidnappers over. Because of this, he feels that he must repay Vincent in anyway he can but unfortunately, nothing ever goes right. I thought in terms of characters, Max was the most innocent one that got tied into Vincent's grudges with CK, Vincent's brother being broke, Kiu's jealousy over Vincent's "affair", and Yan's love for Kiu and hate for Vincent. REALLY, if Max had only known so much was behind this, he could've taken a step back and said, "I should be the victim here... got kidnapped and lived with PTSD for over a decade because of someone else's issues." In terms of the relationship lines with Emma (Zoie Tam) and Tracy (Stephanie Ho), in the beginning I preferred him to be paired with Emma as Tracy was quite rowdy and seems like she would be kept in the friendzone. However as the drama progressed, I really felt that Emma and Max had differing opinions on a lot of things, and most importantly, their morals. Hence, in the end I was happy that Max ended up with Tracy. I can only say that Vincent supported all the characters, especially Roger's Vincent very well and that I am looking forward to see him further refine his acting skills in more dramas this coming year.

As for the three ladies, Rebecca Zhu, Zoie Tam and Stephanie Ho, I thought they all did alright. However Rebecca as Queenie was a bit forced as I thought she and Toby Chan didn't really seem like sisters. Their scene with her sister's pic of her and Vincent was replayed TOO many times. Sometimes, I felt she was quite stiff and with more experience acting, she will improve but for now, it is still raw and amateur. Zoie's character was quite mean especially when she blamed Vincent's autistic son for ruining an event. I just wish they touched on her family a bit more as her background was quite different from how she acted in the workplace. Honestly, I am quite tired of Stephanie Ho playing the small yet loud sidekick. All her roles have been like this with the exception of the cameo Chinese ghost in Blue Veins (because it didn't talk). She does it well I think and it's quite relatable but to build her acting, I would want to see her in other roles. Then again, her focus is singing so acting comes second.

Overall, the most complex character was Vincent Wai and Roger delivered a professional and exciting character. I was most annoyed with Ah Kiu and Ah Yan sparking numerous misunderstandings because of their love for a significant other. The rest of the cast was good although they aren't the big hits at TVB. The drama itself is really one of the best ones this year!

Jay:

After Ah Tao and Cee’s great review, I will be commenting a bit on the themes and symbols of the story, since opinions on acting and the characters are already covered. Dead Wrong definitely places at the top for dramas I’ve seen this year. The level of meaning it reaches, unlike AFWFW, is incredible and it would take another re-watch to seek for new clues and insights. The characters are very realistic and well-developed and the plot is structurally complex - though sometimes exaggerated for effect.

Dead Wrong poses several important questions regarding the purpose of humanity. The oxymoronic name of 致命復活 already suggests great controversy that will reveal itself throughout the course of the drama. This is seen with the battle of emotions Roger’s character, Vincent, faces, the contradictory ‘right vs. wrong’, and the elusive sense of truth behind the case. Although Vincent’s extraordinary case of survival may seem to be hard to connect with, the audience has lots to gain out of the drama. For example, we find ourselves questioning why is it so hard to find happiness? The mood evident through the duration of the drama is mostly gloomy and characters are rarely joyful (except for Tracy played by Stephanie). This then branches off to several other questions. For example, is happiness found with money? But then we see Max’s family, who although are rich, have trouble keeping their family together. Is happiness found through acquiring power and status? Yet, Emma, who is seeking promotions in her company ends up miserable and friendless, with the way she acts around others. Is happiness returned with revenge? Vincent helps answer this question through his cycles of revenge and forgiveness and finds that while his life attempts to go back to normal for a while, true happiness is not restored because he is unable to let go of the incident that caused havoc in his life. Is happiness found by attempting to be ignorant and neglectful of the past? Cathy attempts to overlook her past mistakes and rebuild a new life with Ah Yan but her memories and guilt are not truly unbound and instead, returns to plague her. The drama never tells exactly how one can fulfill the pursuit of happiness because it is such an impossible question but Roger’s last words said to Cathy encompasses the significance of the whole drama: “People often make mistakes and have regrets in life. But everyday will still pass and the sun will still rise from the east. However, many people do not know how to confront their past pain and injuries. Max chose to give up on himself and avoided his past. My brother tried to conceal the truth. CK attempted to use any way possible to cover up his mistakes. Ah Yan refused to accept his mistakes and wrongdoings and did everything he could to change this reality. But you and I, we tried to control ourselves and contain all our emotions, until the point where we couldn’t anymore and finally erupted.” This demonstrates that an individual’s response to their past wrongdoings determines how he/she will live their lives, whether in fear, hopelessness, or happiness. By embracing one’s past and enduring it together with one’s loved ones, people can eventually exceed any downturns in life.

Furthermore, the usage of the powerful motif, the matches, illustrates the framework of which the story is built upon. From the very beginning, matches are introduced through Vincent (played by Roger), who plays with them during a meeting. His goal is to use three matches to completely re-transform the image, foreshadowing how each individual's inconsequential actions can totally remake the outcome of someone else’s life. This is exactly Vincent’s situation, where tiny mistakes made by Max, Vincent’s brother, Cathy, CK, and Ah Yan, all cumulate to Vincent’s tragic imprisonment in a cave for ten years. Although the pictures made with the matches can be interpreted differently, to me, the first picture Vincent starts out with resembles a fish with its head pointing upwards. However, with the rearrangement of a few matches, Vincent comes up with an entirely opposite picture: a fish with its head pointing down. This implicitly suggests a representation of how Vincent’s life will look like. He begins by having a successful, progressive career with a positive outlook on life and perhaps he is also becoming more arrogant, hinted through the fish looking high above everything else. Then, in a matter of seconds, Vincent gets kidnapped and his world turns upside down. This is when he loses everything and his life plummets down to its lowest point, just like the resulting depiction of a sinking fish. A single match, as insignificant as it appears, has the ability to create a massive fire of chaos, allowing things to spin out of control.

The starting picture made by matches.

 The resulting image after switching three matches!

Along with the first interpretation, the matches are also symbolic of hope. First and foremost the matches show Vincent’s hope of reconciliation with his son, Chi Chung,  through playing puzzles made by matches is the only way to effectively communicate to each other. Thus, matches illustrate Vincent’s overall desire to rebuild a loving family, after losing ten years. Yet, if we dig deeper, there’s more to these ‘fire-makers’. Visualizing the act of striking a match brings forward the connection to Vincent’s repeated action of rubbing his chains against rocks, in hopes of freeing himself if these chains eventually break with the abrasion of the metal. Just as how a match can resurrect a dead flame, with each grind of the chains, Vincent is lighting himself a path out of his dark, desolate stage in life.


The matches further lends support to the overall message of the series and comments on human nature. The idea of humans being inherently evil versus humans being kind but capable of evil acts is a key question brought forward throughout the drama. Is Max, Vincent’s brother, Cathy, CK, Ah Yan, and even Vincent himself truly despicable by nature? The drama suggests differently because Cathy and Ah Yan were only acting out of love, while Max only prayed to stay alive, therefore, being the foundation of their mistakes. Each of the characters were not necessarily embodying evilness, but only the natural desire for self-preservation. In the end, these characters, despite having done wrong, are eventually forgiven because others are in a position of understanding that their actions were rooted from such extreme, and at times, innocent circumstances that they are undeserving of jail. The matches come into play at the end again as the drawing of match figures is what reunites Cathy and Vincent as it is how they find each other again in Vietnam. By having the matches represent humans at this scene, this illustrates that humans are the same as matches, which can be both used tools or weapons. The matches have the ability to resurge a fire of anger, hatred, and revenge in Vincent, resulting in further pain for himself and his family and friends, when he chooses to act out of spite. However, the matches are also capable of bringing Cathy and Chi Chung closer together and allows for a welcoming family once again. Humans, like matches, have the capacity to make the world a better place, while at the same time, can cause the destruction of everything through the choices one makes.


Of course, there is still so much to take out from this drama, such as the importance and power love has on an individual, but since this post is getting long, I’ll leave it here for now.

I want to make a comment on the controversial ending scene. In my opinion, I don’t want to think that Vincent never actually got out of the cave and was just dreaming the whole time, since I’m more of a fan for happy endings. My take on the ending is similar to Ah Tao’s, where the refusal to let go and see past the pain and anger one has experienced can lead to an everlasting mental imprisonment of oneself, where there will only be more suffering. The very last picture reminds me of a police station, with the gun and everything and Vincent’s picture is still there, so this suggests that maybe the policemen in Vietnam maybe really had a part to play in this because they did seem very fishy at the beginning but in the end, their suspicions of the police just got shrugged off. Or perhaps it is saying that there is still another ‘big boss’ out there.

The very last scene before the end.

So all in all, I was really impressed with the depth of the drama and the vast coverage of a variety of topics about humanity. The story was developed and the filming in Vietnam was fantastic as well. I was overall impressed with everyone's acting, especially Roger’s, as the roles were delivered well, although some characters itself weren’t the best (Ah Yan, Cathy). It was also nice to see Stephanie Ho, Rebecca Zhu, and Zoie Tam take on larger roles.

I think I give this drama 9/10 because there’s always some plot holes and illogical moments ;)

If you reached this point, thank you for the patience and support of reading the whole post! See you next time. 

- CeeJay and Ah Tao


Screenshots of video playback from icdrama.se 

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