Personal Blog

The Invisibles

The Invisibles (隱形戰隊) is an action, drama, crime TV show that was broadcast on TVB Jade and Youku between 6 March to 14 April 2023.

About

The stories behind two well trained sections of the Hong Kong Police; POTT (Phantom Operation and Tactic Team) and CTRU (Counter Terrorism Response Unit) fighting organized crime and terrorist type incidents as they tackle their own drama’s and romances.

Cast

Kenneth Ma (馬國明) as Ocean
The actor has won “Most Popular Male Television Character” four times. His family had moved to Canada where he studied Mechanical Engineering at UBC.
Instagram

Natalie Tong (唐詩詠) as Madam Q
The actress is a former professional model and has won numerous awards.
Instragram

Joel Chan (陳山蔥) as Sir Cool
He used to work in a vintage clothing store and some other jobs but made a breakthrough on the show “Legal Mavericks”.
Instagram

Alex Lam (林子善) aka Jazz Lam as Namy
He is best known for playing unconventional and comedic characters. He is also known for singing and bodybuilding/fitness.
Instagram

Review

I would put this at the top of the list of Hong Kong shows I have ever seen.

It had a great line up of TVB actors who appear, at least from the “making of” videos I’ve seen, gel well together.

The best character on the show was Namy played exceptionally well by Alex Lam. The character was disabled, shy, vulnerable, emotionally delicate and longing to be loved. If it wasn’t for this character I’m not sure the show would have been the same.

The other great character was played by Ruco Chan who we are used to seeing being the hero. I couldn’t begin to imagine him in an evil role but he did a brilliant job at being very creepy. It’s good to see actors try their hand at different roles.

The story was kind of typical; good vs the bad guys. The action was filmed particularly well, some scenes were “edge of your seat”. It had a good mix of action, romance and humour. The characters developed well, one might have started out disliking someone but that changed later on.

The extended families of the main characters were typical of Hong Kong dramas. They could have tried something different but I guess that is what works and the audience is happy with that scenario.

The last episode wrapped up most of the events during the series pretty well.

Summary

Very good series, I would rate it as 5/5.

Where to Watch

This is available on TVBAnywhere in North America. Not sure where else you can see it in the world.

2024-01-02T22:37:27+00:002 January 2024|Review Hong Kong|

Customer Service 2023

Every year I summarize my customer service experiences for the year just past. As usual, I had some good and bad situations to deal with.  I will talk about the good elsewhere in the website to give them a promo, however, these are the bad.

Costco

In the past I’ve had some bad experiences with Costco regarding their poor remarks towards LGBTQ people. When I phoned them earlier in 2023 I asked if I could book an appointment for “my partner and I” they then went onto assume I was married to a female. I would have though, especially in a health environment, that I would get this anymore but I guess it continues.

DHL

A museum in London I ordered something from was sent by DHL. I had never had issues with this company before but multiple problems for this order. Not only did they charge me an extortionate fee for “brokerage” through customs, which means they don’t do anything really, they actually got three different addresses for me. the items are not supposed to be customs chargeable either, so seems like a mess.

Etsy

I ordered something from a seller on Etsy and it was incomplete. It wasn’t the suppliers fault but the Etsy system. The Etsy customer service function is just awful. They have conflicting policies; one area says you aren’t allowed to contact them until 48 hours after speaking to the seller, another area says 120 hours, their contact area is blocked off until that time has passed. Even after that I found the only way for them to pay attention is go through the “account deletion” process, you can’t even make a complaint. After about a month they finally contacted me saying “dear friend” for which I replied “I am a customer, not your friend” then asked them to proceed with account deletion.

HSBC Canada

I haven’t had any issues with them as such but this year they’ve been sending out survey after survey to me. I went in one branch to get some cash out and got a survey about my experience. I’m not sure why they are doing this so close to their merger with RBC (see Government of Canada announcement), maybe it’s to keep their marketing staff in a job.

Purolator

Another courier company bad experience. I had ordered something, I got note to say while I was out they “left the parcel on my doorstop OR with a person in the building”. Well, that turned out to be untrue but the worst of it came later when their customer service continued with other lies about the parcel and where it was. They were in a right mess. A few days later the parcel turned up from one of their vans. So, if they had made a mistake I wish they would just admit it and then something could be done to resolve it, or the sending company replace it. I called the supplier and told them not to send my orders via Purolator again but via Canada Post.

Royal Mint

Normally, Royal Mint are awesome and have set excellent standards for themselves. However, this year has been a struggle when I ordered a subscription type coin set. For some reason they had my address wrong on the subscription although it was correct everywhere else. So, my credit card was rejected the first time, they said they changed the address, but it also happened for the second and third coin too. The pricing was supposed to be consistent per coin but that’s been different too. The fourth coin is yet to be produced so we’ll see if that goes pear shaped.

Summary

Compared with what is happening in the world these are not big problems but they do affect their business as people will complain if these issues are consistent for other customers, from viewing the Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot websites they are with exception to Royal Mint

2024-01-01T23:07:25+00:001 January 2024|Customer Service|

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg (无双) is a Hong Kong action thriller movie that was released on 4th October 2018. The film was released under the name of “The Counterfeiter” in the UK.

Project Gutenberg

About

A cowardly and struggling artist-turned-criminal named Lee Man (Aaron Kwok) is extradited from a prison in Thailand to Hong Kong to help the police track down a mysterious and fearsome criminal genius known only as Painter (Chow Yun Fat).
(Via Viki)

Cast

Chow Yun Fat (周潤發)
Obviously this actor is one of the most well-known Hong Kong actors that there ever was.

Aaron Kwok (郭富城)
Another very popular actor, as I write this he has 7 film projects coming up. He is busy.

Review

At first this movie seemed quite boring but I think it was slow to get going. Maybe they could have reduced it from its 2 hours 10 minutes length.

However, the action started and the movie got better. There is a huge twist towards the end and its worth watching the film just for that. I will say that the twist wasn’t written very well and could have been explained better. The twist explained a scene that only lasted a few seconds at the beginning of the movie, maybe that was a hint as to what was coming.

The action scene in the village was very well done, probably the highlight of the movie.

I have to admit the scenes based in Canada were quite amusing and I notice some others have called the producers out on those snippets. However, those scenes were filmed here in Vancouver, BC.

The acting was alright, not sure if it was the right role for Chow Yun Fat since he looked a little out of place and I’ve not seen any recent good scripts for him.

Evidently, the film had a budget of USD38.3m and it made USD188m which is good news.

If you have 2+ hours to kill, it’s worth stopping by to watch it.

Summary

It was OK, I will give it a 3/5. It receives mainly average to good rating on other sites.

Where To Watch

I watched it on Viki but I understand it’s also on Tubi.

2023-12-30T05:49:57+00:0030 December 2023|Review Hong Kong|

2023 in Tech

It’s been quite an interesting year regarding technology and social media, so this is what has happened in my world.

Social Media

I have kept clear from social media somewhat this year, maybe because the world is in such a mess reading more about it makes me depressed. Also, the constant barrage of hearing about Trump depresses me too.

  • Twitter/X – It’s been over a year now since I left the platform and I don’t miss how toxic it’s become.  Mr Musk has certainly destroyed it further.
  • Facebook – I am still on there but don’t post frequently, only 5% of my friends actually use it now. I will delete my account there in the near future, there will be a minority of people who would keep in touch, probably can count them on one hand.
  • Instagram – I deleted all my posts and just view what other’s put up, mainly museums and art galleries. As Facebook, I will most likely delete my account in the near future.
  • Threads – I was on there for one day, pretty much says it all.
  • Mastodon – I am on this platform more frequently given its a non-profit and feels like a safe place. However, there is potential connectivity with the Meta’s Threads so I will have to monitor what happens when there is more information available. They have connected to Flipboard and followed a couple of entities there but not seen any posts come through.
  • Pixelfed – Also part of the “Fediverse” this is the new Instagram for me although I don’t post that often. Being a non-photographer doesn’t provide me with much impact.

China

Earlier in this year I found out China is blocking my website. Upon further investigation it looked as though they blocked it in some, but not all, areas of the country. I was advised it was because I used Google Analytics and placed YouTube videos in some of my posts. The Chinese firewall blocks Google. I also understand it also blocks the DuckDuckGo search engine. It’s interesting to note that my website is linked from Chinese search engines.

I received a notification from Google Search Console that iQiyi, the Chinese TV maker/platform, had asked Google to remove links to my review of Strange Tales of Tang Dynasty. The message suggested that they wanted to control all messaging about the program. I removed the content from my post even though the company didn’t have the courtesy to contact me directly or go through the usual DMCA rules about removing copyrighted material. Not sure why they wouldn’t want their programs promoted but it’s no big deal for me to distance myself from them, they certainly aren’t going to make friends with this attitude though.

If I have any more stress from China I may just drop all related reviews from this website and just stop doing all reviews. We’ll see how things go.

Other Tech

  • Microsoft Outlook – I am disappointed with what Microsoft have done with New Outlook. It’s been 3 years since they been working on this and functionality is more advanced with other email programs. I’ve tried Apple Mail and it’s really slow, there are many issues with Mozilla Thunderbird too so those aren’t really doable for me.
  • Tap Forms 5 – This is a database software for Mac that I do most of my work in, I created my own CRM in it. This is now my vital tool of choice.
  • Cloud – I stopped using Microsoft OneDrive and now use either external drives or iCloud.  I found OneDrive fairly hit and miss to use.
  • Computer – I have a souped up 2017 iMac and I know I will have to replace it at some point. With Apple’s current offerings I’m not sure what I would get, either way it would cost me an arm and a leg. The 2023 iMac is very disappointing at only 24″ so this wouldn’t be worth it. I guess we’ll see what happens in the future.
  • Adobe – Although the software is expensive I am pleased with the progress the company is making. I tried out their Generative Fill/AI tools in Photoshop, they appear hit and miss right now. I have used it to clean up old photos with either extremely impressive or very poor results. I look forward to see how this feature develops.
  • AI – Aside from Adobe above, I have played with other online AI tools. They are quite amusing but don’t have a real need for them right now. I have made several moves to protect my assets, in particular this website, from text and pictures being utilized by these companies.
  • Joplin – This is now my notes program of choice, been using it a while and it suits me perfectly. Apple Notes and Microsoft One Note are really slow to sync.
  • Apple Calendar – This is ok for my needs, the New Outlook one has too many issues, Thunderbird Calendar is unusable.

Web Site Security

For my client websites more of my time is taken up with security issues. The constant barrage is tiring. December has been a fairly quiet month though.

For my website, I have blocked Russia and Belarus so I don’t have any security issues at all. For the reasons stated above I have also blocked China.

News and RSS

Meta has blocked news links on their site, this is a good explainer from the BBC. As I discovered, non-news websites can be blocked, Facebook and Instagram have never been to bright with their “algorithms”. This is obviously another reason to keep off Meta entities but my main source of news has always been via RSS feeds and more so during 2023.

2023-12-24T18:24:16+00:0024 December 2023|Social Media, Technology|

Parallel World

Parallel World (西出玉门) is a 38 part Chinese sci-fi/fantasy drama that was broadcast on Tencent from 7 September 2023.

About

Ye Liu Xi is in this world selling melons with little of her memories in tact and needs to go somewhere. She connects with Chang Dong thinks he is the only survivor of a deadly sand storm, he wants to find out what happened to the others he went on a expedition with. Along with some others they travel into a parallel world where they encounter different people and creatures to find answers to what they are looking for.

Cast

Ni Ni (倪妮) as Ye Liu Xi
We say Ni Ni in Netflix’s “The Rise of Phoenixes”, it was her first television role. We have also seen her in a couple of films.  A very popular award winning actress who studied television broadcasting and hosting. She is also quite athletic.

Bai Yu (白宇) as Chang Dong
His English name is Johnny Bai which some in the west know him as. A very popular actor who we’ve seen in numerous TV shows and films, he is one of those actors that fans swoon at.

Review

Since it has Ni Ni and Bai Yu in it, I had good hopes for this show and it was ok.

It did start off slowly so the series could have been reduced in length taking stuff out or speeding it up. The story otherwise was pretty good.

At one point they introduced a senior and a teenager who were “outside of the story”, I thought it was a little bizarre and didn’t warm up to this idea at all. Maybe that was in the original book.

Most of the special effects were good but there was a couple that didn’t quite work out. The effects were just as good as those produced by the US.

I wondered how the car could travel so far without needing a refill. At one point they didn’t seem to mind their friend had been captured so maybe there was some continuity issues.

There was a final scene that was a cartoon and I thought they did this because maybe the special effect equivalent would have been too difficult to achieve.

The chickens were the stars of the show but were they real or CGI? I will let you all decide.

Chinese “SciFi” is more about mystical things and not technology, so this show fits in the fantasy character.

Ni Ni gave a great kick-ass performance, she was the best in it. A character called Fatty was the comical one, the fact they called him Fatty when he wasn’t was a little annoying, kind of demeaning. I think Bai Yu could have done a better job with his character or maybe in the book he was without some emotion.

Summary

We almost gave up on it after a few episodes but pleased we saw it to the end. I’ll give it a 4/5.

Where to Watch

We watched it on Viki but it’s also available on WeTV and TencentVideo.

2023-12-18T00:03:08+00:0018 December 2023|Review China|

My Beloved Bodyguard

My Beloved Bodyguard aka The Bodyguard (我的特工爷爷) is a Hong Kong/Chinese movie released on 1 April 2016.

About

Ding Hu is retired and has dementia. A young girl, Li Chung Hua, hangs out with him to hide from her father and his connections to crime. They live on the China/Russian border and her life is threatened by crime lords. Ding Hu as her bodyguard with his surprising skills protects her.

Cast

Sammo Hung (洪金寶) as Ding Hu
Of course Sammo needs no introduction whose contribution to Asian film industry is astonishing. He was the director and main actor in this movie. Sammo hadn’t directed a movie since 1997.

Andy Lau (劉德華) as Li Zheng Jiu
Another very famous Hong Kong actor with a list of films longer than several arms. He was the producer and main actor in The Bodyguard. He is, lets say, about the same age as me and looking very good.

I noticed a guest appearance by Hu Jun ( 胡军) who played a policeman.

I understand that Jackie Chan was due to appear in this movie but due to various reasons couldn’t so Andy Lau stepped in.

Review

On the face of it the story seemed sound however it wasn’t executed very well. Maybe Sammo and Andy Lau took on too much, not sure, it didn’t flow well. At first the story didn’t move very fast, I can see where some watchers would turn off at that point, but it did speed up as it went along. From a fairly sleepy harmless beginning to a more violent shocking second half, like going from a cuddly Disney movie to a brutal action adventure.

From an acting perspective I didn’t think Sammo performed well in this and much of the film was better executed by the other actors.

There was quite a bit of humour, especially from the three seniors on the bench which I enjoyed. There were other parts of the film that made me laugh but I don’t think the scenes were purposely set up for this.

The locations were interesting and I assume it was partly filmed in China and Russia, but those two countries get on well to have made this happen.

Summary

I felt bad as I really wanted to enjoy this movie but will only give it a 3/5.

Where To Watch

I understand it used to be on Netflix but we saw it on Tubi.

2023-11-15T18:13:14+00:0015 November 2023|Review Hong Kong|

Ninth Happiness

Ninth Happiness (Gau sing bou hei / 星报喜) is a Hong Kong movie that was released on 14 February 1998.

About

Chi Wan (Jackyln Wu) falls in love with a stranger in the woods, Ma Lun Cheung (Leslie Cheung), and mistakes him for a fairy. She is from Rainbow Village where, at the same time, two coarse and corrupt brothers arrive in town to destroy the peace.

The movie is a comedy musical.

Cast

Leslie Cheung (張國榮) as Ma Lun Cheung/Tok Choi
I chose this movie because the sadly deceased gay cantopop artist was in it. I am slowly starting to work my way through his movies.

Raymond Wong (黃百鳴) as Ma Lun Tai (as Bak-Ming Wong)
A talented screenwriter, director, producer and actor with a long history in the film industry.

Jacklyn Wu (吳倩蓮) as Chi Wan
A Taiwanese actress who won awards for her appearance in Eighteen Springs (1997). Although appeared in TV dramas she is best known for film.

Review

This film was totally bonkers.  It seemed like it was a musical Carry On movie, Carry On as the series of British comedy films, it was quite cheeky throughout.

This is one of those wild Hong Kong comedies but with a messed up story. It took a little bit to get into the movie especially its sense of humour and erratic script! I am told it was making fun of Cantonese Opera, which I guess could be the case.

They had familiar tunes, such as Jingle Bells, with their own humorous words over it. Tea for Two was very well done. Some of the songs were short in duration and could have padded it out longer, maybe they were limited to time.

There were some really over the top annoying characters especially the one that lusted over someone else, not sure the acting was good with his character.

It was so good to see Leslie Cheung. He was always game to try anything out and his role included singing, martial arts, romance, comedy and slapstick. For a lead role I don’t think he was in it for very long.

It’s worth trying to make it to the end of the movie just for the bloopers which just cracked me up.

Summary

Despite the movie being so wild and crazy it made me laugh a lot, so I think its worth seeing although I wouldn’t rate it very highly.

2023-11-06T23:34:21+00:006 November 2023|Review Hong Kong|

Sunflower Cafe

Sunflower Cafe, near Crescent Beach, is an interesting eating place to visit if you are in the area. It is a bright and unique looking place with healthy looking items on the menu. My pesto Quiche was great as was the salad, not packed with sodium but full of flavour. The Cafe Mocha was good too.

Location

What3Words: ///considerably.league.rituals

The Sunflower Cafe
12310 Beecher Street
Surrey, BC V4A 3A6, Canada
Website | Map
2023-10-31T04:16:34+00:0031 October 2023|Photo Gallery|

Mei Le Bakery and Restaurant

We got to the Mei Le Bakery and Restaurant in Coquitlam, British Columbia, on a regular basis. It is a lively restaurant akin to a Hong Kong style cafe. Our favourites are the Green Beans with Olives, quite unique, and the Beef Stew with Rice Roll, both pictured below. It also has a bakery with a decent selection of cakes and pastries.

Location

What3Words: ///scowled.grandiose.rats

Mei Le Bakery and Restaurant
112-100 Schoolhouse Street,
Coquitlam, BC V3K 6V9
Canada
Website | Map
2023-10-31T04:29:18+00:0029 October 2023|Photo Gallery|

Woman in a Veil

Woman in a Veil (비밀의 여자), or Secret Woman, is a 103 episode melodrama from Korea that was broadcast between March and August 2023.

About

The story centres around three women.

Jung Gyeoi, who witnesses her husband, Nam Yoo Jin, having an affair with her friend Joo Ae Ra. Her Father is murdered, she loses her eyesight and becomes a victim of lock-in syndrome.

Oh Se Rin is arrogant and cold-hearted but her sister is murdered and seeks revenge.

Joo Ae Ra is desperate to be the first lady of a large corporation and nothing will get in her way, but she also is seeking revenge.

Cast

An all-star cast from the world of South Korean soap operas, too many to list here.

Lee Chae Young (이채영) as Joo Ae Ra
A talented actress who we don’t see enough of, she seems to appear a lot on non-drama TV shows including playing football.
Instagram

Choi Yoon Young (최윤영) as Oh Se Rin and Jung Gyeol
Her notable appearance to me was in Uncanny Counter season 1 probably because this was one drama that got international exposure.
Instagram

Han Ki Woong (한기웅) as Nam Yoon Jin
As far as I’m aware he hasn’t had any movie roles but I’ve seen him in daily dramas “Love to the End” and “Second Husband”. His characters were quite hen-pecked in both Second Husband and Woman in a Veil.
Instagram

Lee Sun Ho (이선호) as Seo Tae Yang
Haven’t seen this actor anywhere else, he has been in TV dramas since 2005 including a fair share of dailies. To date he has been in 5 movies. In Man in a Veil he spoke English for a short while, he seemed pretty fluent.

Lee Eun Hyng (이은형) as Jung Young Joon
A growing list of main and support roles for this talented actor, we’ve not seen him in anything else but hopefully more soon.
Instagram

Shin Go Eun (신고은) as Jung Gyeol and Oh Se Rin
She was listed as a main character but jumped in and out of the series. She is a Korean pop singer and seems to have made her on-screen debut with a guest role on a drama series called The Last Empress.
Instagram

Review

The makers of this show packaged it as though it was the follow-on from Man in a Veil, however, it wasn’t. The only similarity was the cast lineup and maybe the slightly “different than normal” daily drama twist. Man in a Veil was definitely better but I also enjoyed Woman in a Veil a lot too.

Episode 20 was quite prominent whereby many reviewers said “Oh this is ridiculous” but I thought “This is brilliant”. Even though many thought the twist was ridiculous they appeared to keep watching. I think it gave actresses Shin Go Eun and Choi Yoon Young interesting challenges since they were both playing two different characters, and both of them did well in switching between “evil” and “good”. Lee Chae Young is such a good actress, even though her performance was better in Man in a Veil I am hoping to see her in other non-daily drama performances. The “evil” characters were written such that you had sympathy for them at some point or the other.

The script was well-written and had numerous surprises throughout. There was a slight issue with either continuity or directing, something didn’t quite feel right. They made some scenes longer than they should have been, maybe killing time.

The script was written to give every actor a major role, even if it was for a short while, I really like how this was achieved. One of the actors, who I won’t name, just appeared to be going through the motions and could have given a more believable performance. Han Ki Woong appeared to be the most excited about the role on and off-screen. From the behind-the-scenes clips, I saw Bang Eun Hee, who played Jung Gyeol’s mother, appear to be the life and soul of the party. The most annoying character was played by Lee Jung Young, he played such a great evil character in Man in a Veil but the role he was given in Woman in a Veil wasn’t great.

I liked how they had similar incidental music used in “Man in a Veil” even though the decibels could have been higher in some of the dramatic scenes. The first end theme was good but that changed just after halfway through which turned out not so exciting.

Summary

Despite everything this was such a good drama and I will put it near the top of my list of dailies. I will give it 5/5.

Where To Watch

I saw this on Viki.

Trailer

2023-10-28T21:33:36+00:0028 October 2023|Review South Korea|