Telemad

TV review: Crime comedy Line Walker is fast, furious and fun

Jung So Min in the South Korean romcom Can We Get Married?. -- PHOTO: STARHUB
Jung So Min in the South Korean romcom Can We Get Married?. -- PHOTO: STARHUB
Charmaine Sheh (right) hooks up with bookies played by Oscar Leung (left) and Raymond Lam (centre) in Line Walker. -- PHOTO: STARHUB
Charmaine Sheh (right) hooks up with bookies played by Oscar Leung (left) and Raymond Lam (centre) in Line Walker. -- PHOTO: STARHUB

TVB's hit crime comedy Line Walker's heroine is both a massage parlour owner and an undercover policewoman

I'm going to make this quick. I'm just coming up for air and I mean to dive back into TVB's latest hit thriller, Line Walker, ASAP.

Is it that good, you ask? Well, is that important?

TVB has served up something fast, hot and delightful - like the instant noodles one detective cooks for another in the show, then sprinkles with secret ingredients such as cheese and raisins. It might not sound good but it tastes great and they know they must dig in before it goes cold.

Ding! That's Hong Kong slang for "heat it up in the microwave", and that's what TVB has done here, mixing staple ingredients (undercover police drama, housewife drama and Mong Kok low-life comedy) and melting them into a dish topped with MSG (lovable, irresistible characters, one of whom must have been pinched from a Louis Cha classic).

Ding: That's also Charmaine Sheh's character, a glib, sly, money-loving and rule-breaking rascal who goes by the moniker of Ding (Nail) in the neighbourhood and who is the beating heart of the show.

Clearly modelled on Wei Xiaobao, the streetwise rogue of Cha's The Deer And The Cauldron (a story of survival, pretence and loyalty which is a great prototype for an undercover police comedy, really), Ding not only has a massage parlour, but also a double life as an undercover policewoman who is infiltrating a bookie syndicate and the triad behind it.

Make that a triple life because she also has to answer to her three adoptive mothers, former nightclub hostesses who fret whenever she spends a night out on a hush-hush assignment.

And it's a riot watching her improvise, lie or flirt her way in and out of anything, never squandering any chance to make a quick buck, ask for a raise or angle for compensation.

The show is no slouch, either, upping the stakes and the fun factor frequently by bringing in characters who might or might not be corrupt officers, undercover detectives or out-and- out gangsters.

Ding works for Burst Seed, an ambitious ice delivery man and bookie who is basically, and implausibly, perfect.

He is played by Raymond "Mr Perfect" Lam, of course, as a smart, strong and hardworking guy. Even when he becomes involved in a kidnapping, you trust he will be nice to the kid.

Other characters are complex and yet kind of cuddly, in ways that are entertaining but don't always add up. (It is as if the writers put good-guy and bad-guy attributes in a box, shook them, then picked them arbitrarily to create characters.)

A crime boss who is described as a dangerous man is played as a friendly teddy bear by Benz Hui.

You don't know what to think of him but you might like him more than Ding's new supervisor and Michael Miu's character, a policeman who holds his cards close to his chest. He contacts Ding after the murder of her previous handler, but he lets her think it was a suicide.

He's working with her to save a group of police agents whose operations and lives might be in peril, but also being followed by an anti-corruption officer (Sharon Chan).

And then, when you least expect it, he turns out to be a romantic. While spying on the officer, he ends up wiretapping her sister (Elena Kong), finding out about her miserable marriage and trying to save her.

It's far-fetched but it also makes me smile. It is just touching how the show, busy as it is, finds the time to whip something up for bored housewives.

South Korean cable channel JTBC's Can We Get Married? is a romcom that provides much more sustenance. There's something true about the show from the first moment, when a woman chokes on an engagement ring placed in a dessert (seriously, almost killing someone is just not a great way to start your life together), spits it out and glares at her boyfriend.

And it gets deeper, showing the nooks and crannies of relationships - how couples lose sight of each other, even as they are planning their weddings - and giving you lots of food for thought.

woeiwan@sph.com.sg