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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

K&K : Kevin/Kenneth OR Kenneth/Kevin in A Fistful Of Stances

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I know this is 1 year too later but I am perplexed as to why there are posts about Kevin Cheng being the male lead in A Fistful Of Stances and even nominated as one in the TVB awards when from the way I see it, from the beginning until now 5 episodes from the end, Kenneth Ma to me is in the leading character. What is a male lead? Not necessarily someone with the most role but rather a character that the story centres on and it is very obvious Koo Yue Tong is the character the series centres on. I know Kevin played 2 roles, but that is not why he is considered the lead and nominated as such. Not that I am saying Kenneth is good enough to be nominated for his acting (well when did TVB ever use acting abilities as a measure to their best actor award anyway?), but Kevin in the Best Actor category when his character is more supporting than leading character just shows that all those complaints by Sammul Chan that he was screwed over, Kenneth was screwed over. Of course being gracious, he didn't look like he was in all out war with Kevin. But rather embarrassing for Kevin and wouldn't help him in his quest to be more credible as an actor. In fact pushing Kevin as the male lead in A Fistful Of Stances to me helped Kenneth with his credibility; fans love a good screwed over story.

If you ask me did either deserve a nomination? Not really, but depends on other qualities for that year. The issue here is who should have been in which category, not the quality thereof. But Kenneth was in the favourite character list or narrowly misses out? He wasn't in the list I believe and now that is strange since I thought Koo Yue Tong was a popular character. But again when it comes to favourite character, a large part in who to vote for and who will win or get in the list is usually due to how big is a fanbase and how popular that person is. So again I suppose Kenneth got screwed over again. But I don't begrudge that; Mr Ma only has to blame his own tiny fanbase but hey, it is growing. Since he will be a villain in the new series whose name I didn't catch from what I read, that may be a breakthrough role for him but I don't think so until and unless he stops pouting.

Now was A Fistful Of Stances his breakthrough role? I mean Kenneth Ma's fans were excited, I too became excited watching him, or rather I quite look forward to seeing him in the white overall/cheongsam (he looks darn dashing in it, even if his hair is a problem - he needs a good haircut but here is better than in that disastrous pretentious oh my god please end my misery watching that utter crap called Mysteries Of Love) but I have maintained from episode 1 till now Episode 20, I feel his acting failed the character but the writing failed him. It's not that he was terrible, in fact I find him pretty good, but pretty good does not equate breakthrough. His character is likeable, so it was easy but his portrayal lacked that heavy burden I feel he should show BUT I must admit in Episode 20 there is a tiny glimpse of that. He also lacked the believable wisdom to be a master for many disciples at mere age of 27. With Kenneth, I just feel he got the lighthearted moments and those sad moments just right but the commanding presence moments, on paper felt right but on screen, something was missing. However I see A Fistful Of Stances as proper introduction to Kenneth Ma, and I was pretty amazed at how tall he looked, how well built. The fact that he was on screen in almost every scene means I can notice him more and I did of course paid very good attention to looking at him. He I believe has the capabilities to be a leading actor, he practically carried A Fistful Of Stances despite the dozens of people in there, every episode seems to centre on Koo Yue Tong and nope, Kevin Cheng looked more like hitching a ride. Kenneth was the driver. AFOS showed me he has got charisma, I may have dismissed him in the past in dramatic roles, in my recaps I did keep saying he lacked the dramatic chop, but the truth is he lacked the dramatic chop suitable for this particular character. He has the looks, but I feel a more competent and more well rounded actor would have given Koo Yue Tong a better interpretation because let's face it, AFOS on surface is a good series but the writing is inconsistent and if I may be harsh, it sucks for reasons that I can explain and I am not going to, but Koo Yue Tong is the best written character in there because this character is allowed to develop more than the others.

So yes, AFOS introduced me to Kenneth properly even if I have watched him for a long time but did he deserve a nomination? I wouldn't even say he should get the Most Improved. This is a stepping stone to better things to come sort of performance. It could have been the sort of performance which shows more than potential but shine however again he lacked that emotional depth to give Koo Yue Tong the richness that not necessarily a better actor can give but rather an actor who can portray burdened leadership better.

I do not see why Kevin should be billed as the lead character, and I don't believe a series can have 2 or more leading actors. It is always one who leads, the others are supporting. I suppose the writing was at first to allow Kevin's Koo Yue Jeung to be the leading character except how can a character that is lost for several episodes can expect to come back and grab the mantle away from a very significant character that has been there from day 1 such as Koo Yue Tong? The rapport has always been built. Problem with Koo Yue Jeung is that he disappeared for quite some time before making an appearance and that in itself is the problem presented with the script. Or is it the original plan has always been Koo Yue Tong the leading character but when comes to billing and nomination, Kevin got the top billing quite simply because amongst them all, he is the one with the biggest name/fame?

Unfortunately that is how billing and nomination works as well as singing the themesong (a great song BUT Kevin Cheng oh Kevin Cheng was so underwhelming as a singer of such a great song). The good thing is, fans can see for themselves. Of course Kevin's fans will say Kevin got screwed over with this character that was supposed to lead but became supporting. My feeling is that was the original plan all along. Between Kevin and Kenneth or as in K & K, it is Kenneth who got screwed over big time but luckily for him, he may have lost in official recognition, he gained many unofficial one. I can complain and criticise or comment about his casting, his looks, his performance but at the end of the day you can count me as one of the unofficial one.

Now Mr Ma, please stop pouting if not how can I ever take you seriously when all I ever want is to pinch that cute cheeks of yours? And Mr Ma, please don't sing.




17 comments:

  1. Kenneth does get a nomination for Favourite Character.

    I'm not a fan of Kevin or Kenneth's acting , but to be fair it's not totally Kevin's fault. The series itself focused on Kenneth and Kenneth has more development. It's easier to like a better developed character(and the actor playing the character) than a lesser developed character.

    Why Kevin is labelled as the lead actor? My view is because Kevin is more established and has more fans. It's a false message from TVB to Kevin's fans to support the series only to see that Kevin's character is not the focal point and seeing Kevin being trampled by Kenneth's fans.

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  2. I just know recently why I haven't jumped on the Kenneth-shipping boat. Kenneth is not a bad actor but too dramatic for me. It's not that apparent on downloaded videos but on big TV screen it either turns me off or make me doubled over in laughter.

    This is also the reason why I'm not fond of Wayne Lai's over dramatic performance in No Regrets last year. He tried too hard to generate his expressions and show
    his acting is powerful. Why don't just have a more relaxed and natural acting?

    My preference is for more microexpressions and delicate understated acting.

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  3. Spamming more yeah.

    To sum up in this series the person I enjoyed watching isn't Kenneth or Kevin, but Dominic Lam. Sure, his acting might seem understated but to me it's adequate and not overdramatic.

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  4. Kenneth's character on paper is excellent, on screen is great but could have been very much better. Kevin's character is underdeveloped as a lead but ok on paper as supporting. Acting wise, not ok.

    I never thought Dominic was that great and after watching so many episodes sorry to say I don't think he made a great villain because he has a rather underdeveloped role to begin with and he himself sorry isn't that memorable as a villain. I somehow found myself looking at Jacky Heung!

    Maybe I like decent guy roles. Tong is a decent guy and I like that decent guys need not always be bullied or trampled over.

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  5. Funn: I think we just have different taste, haha.

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  6. Kenneth has a doltish look which reminds me very much of Felix Wong. It is this dash which makes him just slightly unconvincing in his roles, such as the early parts of "Grace Under Fire" and lacking conviction as the man carrying the family burden for years in "A Fistful of Stances." He'll have screen moments where he just resorts to his natural doltish, wide-eyed look.

    I see slow, steady improvement in Kenneth's acting. He approaches acting as a craft and willing to experiment, where he is interested to "live" out the characters he plays onscreen. I think he said in interviews he truly loves acting because it affords him this opportunity to be someone onscreen he is not in real life. He has passion and dedication (while not purely about money) and we are beginning to see the fruits of his labor. Given time, I think he will become a strong, steady pillar in acting.

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  7. To Jayne:

    I'm not gonna disagree that Kenneth might be following Felix Wong's or Gallen Lo's path in the future because from all his series that I watched I've concluded that his style of acting may suit dramatic characters.

    I tend to like those with nuanced and understated acting although I admit this type of actors generally find it harder to grab the spotlight such as Dominic Lam in this series. Bowie Lam also take years until he's old enough to establish himself in this style. Among the younger actors lately I'm seeing Bosco starting adopting this style from what I see in his few latest series. It won't buy him the spotlight but it makes me liking him better because he'starting to discover his acting style. Before this I found him boyish. It might be some influence from Bowie Lam and Dominic?

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  8. Ahh Jayne I wouldn't go as far to say he is Felix so to speak. He is still lacking the leading man qualities; he does well in ensemble fair, managing to upstage those is typically less leading man quality but yes he is slowly getting there. I find him goofy, which is why for serious dramas, his goofiness doesn't help. But I think he will make a good romantic type of hero ala K-dramas.

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  9. "But Kenneth was in the favourite character list or narrowly misses out? He wasn't in the list I believe and now that is strange since I thought Koo Yue Tong was a popular character."

    Funn, you forgot ah. Just a few days ago, I told you that Kenneth's Koo Yu Tong made Top 5 Fave characters in the award ceremony but lost to Prof King. He was there with the other top 5 receiving a gold plate in the ceremony.

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  10. "Kenneth was screwed over. Of course being gracious, he didn't look like he was in all out war with Kevin. "

    Haha. Kenneth won't war with anyone for top billing. Kenneth is not that ambitious. He has once said that his aim is to be like Benz Hui, a long lasting actor, 'cheung jou cheung yau'. Instead of wanting to be lead, he appear to me as someone who just enjoy acting. While he was on the rise, some veteran advise him not to take so many cameo/guest roles as it might affect his status. But, he didn't heed the advice, but, still continue to take cameo roles because he enjoyed acting different roles (that's why he accepted the cameo in that fat Myolie series).

    "Of course Kevin's fans will say Kevin got screwed over with this character that was supposed to lead but became supporting. My feeling is that was the original plan all along. Between Kevin and Kenneth or as in K & K, it is Kenneth who got screwed over big time but luckily for him, he may have lost in official recognition, he gained many unofficial one."

    I think both got screwed over.

    Kevin's fans complain is valid too. Kevin was billed as lead. On paper, his role also seem like the lead, what with his extra ordinary talent in martial arts (the usual formula for lead in a kungfu series). But, when they watched the actual series, it's all Kenneth. I see that as screwing too.

    Kenneth, on the other hand, was screw out of his rightful billing. He's the central character, but, get the second billing.

    "Unfortunately that is how billing and nomination works as well as singing the themesong (a great song BUT Kevin Cheng oh Kevin Cheng was so underwhelming as a singer of such a great song)"

    I feel differently. I think Kevin sings the song well. Somehow, I feel his soft singing suits the song. At least, I think he did better than Ron with the 'Rosy Business' song.

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  11. But Kidd, Kevin less screwed over because he has top billing. He is in front of the poster. We all know his chsracter isn't the lead but he got the credit in terms of official recognition. That to me is not screwed over, that is to me a coup de grace by his manager who loves him a lot.

    Kidd I can't understand. If he made to top 5 how he lost to Ray if he is one of the top5? Or the award is for top 4?

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  12. Kidd I can't understand. If he made to top 5 how he lost to Ray if he is one of the top5? Or the award is for top 4?

    Top 5 nominees for Fave Male Character Award.

    Raymond Lam - Professor Kingsley King (MOL)
    Steven Ma - Chow Yung-kung (AWDL)
    Kenneth Ma as Koo Yue-tong (AFOS)
    Moses Chan as Kam Tuo-luk (CBML)
    Wayne Lai as Lau Sing (NR)

    Winner - Prof. Kingsley King.

    Unlike other awards, Top 5 nominees for Fave Male/Female Char and Best Actor/Actress can all come to the stage to receive a gift token. Then, they announce the ultimate winner.

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  13. But Kidd, Kevin less screwed over because he has top billing. He is in front of the poster. We all know his chsracter isn't the lead but he got the credit in terms of official recognition. That to me is not screwed over, that is to me a coup de grace by his manager who loves him a lot.

    May I intrude. It's not totally a gain for Kevin. He may get the bill as the lead and get to be the most front in the poster, but as an actor it's also a loss to him because his role is smaller than someone else and Kevin fans might also feel cheated by the poster. In the end he didn't receive any credit and insted received the wrath of Kenneth fans because he got nominated for Best Actor. In a way, Kevin is screwed over by TVB management.

    At least Kenneth did get a gold plate for the favourite character, so there's still a reward for him.

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  14. I disagree. An actor's aim is top billing, whatever the amount of screentime. Some actors fight for that. Fans being dissatisfied is inevitable, no matter the amount of screentime. To say Ken got the best character is of course true but he didn't get top billing recognition from the company. So he is screwed over. For Kevin, I suspect the script is as it is. He knew his role, he got compensated with top billing. To do less but to be the star attraction, that's the aim of actors

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  15. "and I don't believe a series can have 2 or more leading actors. It is always one who leads, the others are supporting. "

    I want to use 'Guts of Man' as an example of series with 2 leads, but, damn, Ron is more middle and bigger in the poster. :P
    But, I did find another series where the leads are equal. 'Twin of brothers'. Ron and Raymond are equally big in the posters and their story do have equal weight.

    Anyway, want to talk about 'Guts or Man'. I don't know if you have watch the series or not. This is another case where the lead is hard to determine. The main story actually centered on Sammul's character's family. The series starts with Sammul stealing away from his secluded village for an adventure outside. The series synopsis also talk about Sammul's character, and he sings the themesong. Ron only appear when Sammul encounter Ron on his way to the big city. But, character wise, Ron seem to be the more typical lead. He has all the good qualities. Nice and honest and not a mean bone is his person. He gain success faster in his career in the army (they both join the army). He also ended up with the main girl if I remember correctly. Sammul, on the other hand, got jealous of Ron's success and turn to the dark side for a short while before turning back to the light. Sammul has more screen time than Ron. So, who is the lead?

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  16. On paper, Sammul. Lead need not be just the good guys.

    On poster depends on who gets top billing. If they have equal billing, as in side by side, then they're considered equal leads. But if Ron's image is bigger (like that of Kevin) then Ron is being promoted as the lead with the top billing.

    That's why in America many stars fight for TOP or EQUAL billing. Some you will see side by side, same size font. Even then some may argue my name should come first as in left to right.

    Some posters you see one name slightly bigger, that's the top billing and promoted as lead eventhough in the movie he may die 1 hour later.

    It isn't always about screentime, but billing. But we fans know who is the lead character not just by screentime but by the story sometimes. However if one character is always talked about but never appears that is not the lead character per se.

    The easiest to judge for TVB is look at the poster. Now I remember the poster for Love Is Beautiful; Anne and Marianne, equal billing, both are leads.

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  17. Or rather I should say screentime is no indication of top billing and top billing is no indication of who's the lead. I suppose as an actor you want a great character, in lieu of that you want top billing. Nowadays it is very difficult to determine who is the lead and who is not. Like in the movie Towering Inferno. Both Paul Newman and Steve McQueen are mega famous, has equal billing. Screentime wise, McQueen lesser as he appeared later. BUT script wise, both actors apparently spoke equal amount of words!

    That's equal then.

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