I almost never watch American television, though I occasionally look at reality shows like Project Runway or Chopped when my daughters are streaming it on my computer, but I really can’t remember the last time I watched a U.S. Drama on a regular basis. I have a hard time paying attention to anything more than 90 minutes long unless it includes singing và dancing in Hindi, so investing weeks và weeks in a TV show, no matter how good, is just too much commitment for me. Also, as an unreconstructed experimental film geek I’m very visually oriented, so I prefer my truyền thông media to be less dialog và character-driven than is most television.

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I’m not one for Asian dramas, either—again, the weeks và weeks of watching are just too much for me khổng lồ do, và I find plastic surgery và eyeliner on boys a little distracting. That said, this past year I’ve watched two Asian dramas, but only because they starred two of my favorite actors, Lee Byung-Hun và Francis Ng. Last spring I watched IRIS (아이리스, 2009), the South Korean espionage thriller that stars the insanely hot Lee Byung-Hun as a special ops agent involved in various crazy political plots. Although much of the story strains credulity, LBH is quite good in it & the ample explosions, gunfights, assassinations, betrayals, và love triangles keep the show movie along briskly. I felt like I’d eaten too much deep-fried food after sitting through its 40+ episodes but it was fun khổng lồ spend all that time watching LBH vị his thing.


" data-medium-file="https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-ngs-myolie.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-ngs-myolie.jpg?w=455" class="size-full wp-image-4504 " src="https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-ngs-myolie.jpg?w=455&h=295" alt="Francis Ng, Ron Ng, Myolie Wu, aligned, Triumph In The Skies 2, 2013" width="455" height="295" srcset="https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-ngs-myolie.jpg?w=455&h=295 455w, https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-ngs-myolie.jpg?w=150&h=98 150w, https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-ngs-myolie.jpg?w=300&h=195 300w, https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-ngs-myolie.jpg 500w" sizes="(max-width: 455px) 100vw, 455px" />Ron Ng, Francis Ng, Myolie Wu, aligned, Triumph In The Skies 2, 2013


More recently, I’ve been wallowing in Triumph In The Skies 2, the sequel lớn the hit Hong Kong drama that aired in 2003 on TVB that followed the lives & romances of a clutch of HK airline pilots. I watched TITS 1 on DVD long after it first came out, but with the advent of online streaming I’ve been able lớn see episodes of TITS 2 with English subtitles on a day-and-date schedule with its airing in Hong Kong. Lượt thích its prequel, the series has been quite a sensation since its premiere at the beginning of August, drawing high ratings và inspiring a wave of pilot-mania among Hong Kong’s citizenry. It was great lớn be able khổng lồ watch Francis Ng as the lead character, Sam Tong, an upstanding & heroic airline pilot who is a much beloved character in Hong Kong. The show is nowhere near as hyperkinetic as IRIS, depending on romantic entanglements and other interpersonal relationships for its dramatic tension, but Francis, along with co-star Julian Cheng Chilam, made the show watchable. A bonus to watching it online is that I could fast-forward through the extraneous side-stories & go straight to lớn the Francis plotlines. The drama is no great shakes and in fact is pretty mundane, with vast swaths of filler focusing on minor characters, flagrant product placement, & way too many subplots that are transparently designed to showcase TVB’s up-and-coming starlets. But TITS is one of TVB’s premium franchises and the station threw a lot of money at it, by Hong Kong television standards. There are many đáng yêu young guys looking suave in cadet pilot uniforms, including the sweet and dreamy Him Law, nice scenery in London, Taiwan, và Paris, and upscale Hong Kong characters with huge fantasy apartments & luxury cars.

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" data-medium-file="https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-starlets.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-starlets.jpg?w=455" class=" wp-image-4505 " src="https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-starlets.jpg?w=410&h=273" alt="Ingenues, Triumph In The Skies 2, 2013" width="410" height="273" srcset="https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-starlets.jpg?w=410&h=273 410w, https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-starlets.jpg?w=150&h=100 150w, https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-starlets.jpg?w=300&h=200 300w, https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-starlets.jpg 500w" sizes="(max-width: 410px) 100vw, 410px" />Ingenues, Triumph In The Skies 2, 2013


However, although it was a high-end, much-hyped TVB series, the drama exhibited sloppy plotting and dialog, pacing & editing problems, sketchy và uneven acting, & way too many extraneous characters và storylines. There were huge, illogical jumps in the timeline (to accommodate a pregnant character) và one of the main characters, Captain Jayden Koo (Julian Cheung Chilam) inexplicably disappeared from the narrative for many episodes. Of course television dramas are built around people behaving stupidly and making poor life decisions và this show is no different, with characters displaying irritating obstinacy, irrational stubbornness, and poor communication skills, and making bad, impulsive decisions. I suppose their dramatic idiocy is meant to make the viewer feel better about their own lives, but there’s a limit lớn how much illogical behavior is plausible. TITS 2 also suffered by comparison lớn TITS 1. If a love triangle or two worked in TITS 1, why not three or four in TITS 2? How about a weirdly obsessive, terminally ill ingénue chasing after a reluctant mate? TITS 1 had the deliciously agonizing dilemma of Francis Ng’s character, Sam Tong, in love with his best friend’s wife, so that the love triangle was truly triangular, with the relationship between all three characters holding significance. In TITS 2, the Sam/Jayden/Holiday triangle had much less piquancy because there was no deep relationship between Sam & Jayden, unlike Sam và Vincent’s friendship in the original series. It didn’t help that Fala Chen’s acting as Holiday, the fulcrum of the love triangle, was wildly inconsistent, though by the over of the series she had settled down a bit.


" data-medium-file="https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-francis.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-francis.jpg?w=455" class=" wp-image-4502 " src="https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-francis.jpg?w=319&h=207" alt="Francis emotes, Triumph In The Skies 2, 2013" width="319" height="207" srcset="https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-francis.jpg?w=319&h=207 319w, https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-francis.jpg?w=150&h=98 150w, https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-francis.jpg?w=300&h=195 300w, https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-francis.jpg 500w" sizes="(max-width: 319px) 100vw, 319px" />Francis emotes, Triumph In The Skies 2, 2013


For me, the main draw of course was Francis Ng, và he didn’t disappoint. Although TITS 2 was by no means high art (or even competent storytelling), as an opportunity lớn watch hours of Francis Ng every night for six weeks it was a quite a lovely indulgence và despite the drama’s general silliness, Francis absolutely killed in this show. Francis is an outstanding big-screen actor but he’s also an excellent small-screen actor, due to his mobile and subtly expressive face and his huge repertoire of physical expressions. The way he stands, the position of his arms, và his confident rolling swagger when he’s walking around the airport in his pilot drag lượt thích he owns the place all địa chỉ up khổng lồ a very satisfying viewing experience. His character was by turns depressed, repressed, anal retentive, or controlling, but Francis managed to lớn make him sympathetic with just a well-placed flick of his eyebrows or a meaningful sigh, and he is the king of the single tear sliding down the cheek. In one scene, where he recalls his remorse at disappointing Zoe, his late wife, the range of emotions crossing his face was pretty amazing, demonstrating his impeccable mastery of non-verbal acting. Francis also gets bonus points for flaunting an array of beautifully cut Vivianne Westwood menswear (including a $250 hoodie with hand-painted stars on the sleeves & a gorgeous đen velvet tux with a satin shawl collar) & looking ridiculously fit và charming for a man in his early fifties. Depending on the lighting & the skill of the makeup artists, Francis alternately looked pretty good for his age or like a star somewhat past his sell date. Some netizens were less than kind about Francis’ fifty-plus years, và it didn’t help that his main love interest was a woman in her early thirties, which often accentuated Francis’ age khổng lồ his detriment. But the man can wear a tailored suit like nobody’s business & his signature “airplane head” pompadour was impeccably groomed throughout the entire series—there was literally not a hair out of place và the sculpted fade of his sideburns was immaculately trimmed lớn the exact same length for the entire show. Way to lớn go, continuity department!


" data-medium-file="https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-chilam.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-chilam.jpg?w=455" class=" wp-image-4503 " src="https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-chilam.jpg?w=364&h=273" alt="Julian Cheung Chilam, windblown, Triumph In The Skies 2, 2013" width="364" height="273" srcset="https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-chilam.jpg?w=364&h=273 364w, https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-chilam.jpg?w=150&h=113 150w, https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-chilam.jpg?w=300&h=225 300w, https://mercurytravel.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/triumph-chilam.jpg 500w" sizes="(max-width: 364px) 100vw, 364px" />Julian Cheung Chilam, windblown, Triumph In The Skies 2, 2013


Julian Cheung’s new character, Jayden Koo, instantly became a fan hâm mộ favorite in the sequel, though khổng lồ me the character was a narcissistic bore who thought he was the schiznit. In the first few eps Jayden’s popularity far outstripped that of Sam Tong, making the proposed Sam/Jayden/Holiday love triangle a non-starter. In order to lớn appease the disgruntled Sam/Zoe shippers and to level the playing field for Sam vs. Jayden, Julian Cheung’s part was ruthlessly trimmed down in the middle episodes of the series and Francis và Fala’s budding romance instead took center stage. When Jayden finally reappeared some weeks down the line, after the show’s editing had tilted the audience in F&F’s favor, he seemed more lượt thích an obsessive stalker than a viable love interest. My conspiracy theory is that the producers realized that the audience wasn’t down with Francis + Fala & had khổng lồ fatten up their relationship in order khổng lồ make the love triangle plausible, at the expense of Julian Cheung’s screentime. That và the fact that the show’s ending had been spoiled even before the series aired took a lot of the dramatic tension out of the storyline. Through the magic of google chrome’s instantaneous (if garbled) website translations, it was also fun to follow the truyền thông media frenzy in Hong Kong as the show aired. Apparently Sam/Zoe is one of the most revered pairings in TVB history và the way that Zoe was ruthlessly killed off between TITS 1TITS 2 (appearing only in flashbacks in TITS 2) really rankled the viewership. After the Sam/Zoe storyline was resolved in episode 23 some viewers swore off the show, though their defections didn’t seem lớn affect the ratings as TITS 2 ended up the highest rated show of the year as well as racking up many hundreds of millions of online views in Hong Kong and China.



It was also pretty humorous to observe the stars’ various spats with each other via the media. Early press reports stated that Francis Ng và Fala Chen didn’t get along, but as the series progressed the purported tensions were denied, with Fala Chen at one point claiming “(Francis) just looks really fierce because when he furrows his brow, he looks very serious.” It was also funny to chú ý is that many online commentators had very little sense of Francis Ng’s work outside of Hong Kong television, apparently not realizing the fact that he’s won several Best Actor awards for his film work, or that he’s known outside of Hong Kong primarily for playing badass gangsters, not lovelorn pilots, or that, as he says, “the majority of my fans have tattoos.” Despite all of its shortcomings the drama was a huge hit, with excellent broadcast ratings in Hong Kong. There’s talk of a feature film version of the show and all involved are scrambling lớn capitalize on its popularity. Julian Cheung has taken advantage of his increased profile by changing agents, recording a cover of the theme tuy vậy from the original series, & buying a new Mercedes. Francis Ng has inexplicably signed an agreement to lớn produce a cooking show for TVB. Và Fala Chen is being touted by Eric Tsang as “the new Maggie Cheung,” although she has none of Cheung Man-yuk acting skills, charisma, or talent. Considering how meteorically fortunes can rise và fall in Hong Kong show biz, it will be interesting lớn see the lasting effects, if any, of the recent success of TITS 2. Related Francis Ng news: It was just announced that Francis Ng is attached khổng lồ Sha Po Lang 2, the sequel to lớn the 2005 Wilson Yip-directed Donnie Yen action/MMA film revered by many Hong Kong movie fanboys. Yip had wanted Francis lớn star in the original SPL (the part eventually went khổng lồ Simon Yam) but scheduling conflicts prevented this happening, so it’s great that Francis will be joining the cast for this one. This installment will be directed by Soi Cheang (Motorway; Accident), who most recently worked with Francis on the film adaptation of the the ultraviolent Japanese manga Shamo (2007). It will be nice lớn see Francis in a real Hong Kong crime film once again, as opposed to lớn the soapy melodrama of TITS or the dreadful mainland shlock he’s been putting out lately. Can’t wait–

UPDATE: Although google is mangling the translation of this article, I think that it says that Francis Ng, Chilam Cheung, và Louis Koo are now confirmed for the movie version of the drama & that, due lớn her clashes with Francis và other cast members as well as her Marilyn Monroe-esque behavior on phối (i.e., being late & not knowing her lines), Fala Chen has been dumped from said movie & replaced by Taiwanese star Lin Chi-Ling. What’s more interesting is that Benny Chan is now attached khổng lồ direct và that the film supposedly will be an “action” movie. Chan is fresh from one of the top-grossing Hong Kong films of last year, The white Storm, which was a manly crime film starring vệ sinh Ching-Wan, Louis Koo, & Nick Cheung. Having just watched Big Bullet again recently, I can only hope that news of Chan’s involvement is true and that the brave và handsome flight crew will face terrorists, bombs, & mayhem on the streets and in the skies of Hong Kong. I’d pay to see that–

UPDATE 2: After many casting & directing changes the movie version of Triumph In The Skies is about khổng lồ be released, just in time for the Chinese New Year’s holiday on Feb. 20, 2015 with a day-and-date release in North America. The publicity machine has been in full force và the film is one of the favorites in the New Year’s slate, although it’s going up against a new Sandra Ng sex comedy, 12 Golden Ducks, & Chow Yun-Fat’s latest gambling movie, From Vegas khổng lồ Macau 2, which also stars A-listers Nick Cheung, Carina Lau, và Shawn Yue. The new TITS movie, directed by Matt Chow và Wilson Yip, focuses on romance và relationships, as well as nice scenery & tailored clothes, with Francis Ng paired with Sammi Cheng, Louis Koo paired with Charmaine Sheh, và Chilam Cheung paired with Amber Kuo. Could be great, could be sucky, but I’m watching it either way.