Despite its incoherent debut, Blue Veins is a cute action- comedy that revolves around fighting, running a restaurant and hunting the undead
A kooky woman-child (Kay Tse) on vacation in Amsterdam meets a cool gentleman (Kevin Cheng) one fine day in the TVB romance Blue Veins, when she borrows his bicycle to chase after a thief. He helps her recover her clutch bag, she blacks out, and as her head hits his shoulder, his eyes flash red. His sixth sense is telling him that she may be a vampire.
The next thing I know, night falls and he materialises out of nowhere for an epic battle with an evil bloodsucker (Joel Chan), which ends with the computer-assisted destruction of a Dutch landmark and a flashback to the Ming dynasty (1368 to 1644): Once upon a time in China, he and eight other vampire hunters were slain in the line of duty, then mysteriously revived as immortal warriors.
That's how the story goes in the borderline incoherent debut of the Hong Kong drama and I feared the worst when I was watching the episode. It seemed to have contracted the superhero movie virus - where everything is bigger, louder, more mind-numbing - and to be losing its marbles.
Luckily, the show recovers in the next episode, when it returns to Hong Kong and morphs into a seriously cute action-comedy that revolves around fighting, running a restaurant and hunting the undead.
Tse is back at work as a forensic scientist. Cheng sets up shop with a supper joint as a cover for his pursuit of vampires. And the fun multiplies when a few others - Tse's namby-pamby colleague (Luk Wing), a hot-tempered comic-book writer (Wong You Nam) and his serene sister (Anjaylia Chan) - are all revealed to have double lives as martial arts students.
Soon they are trooping to the restaurant of Cheng, who turns out to be the improbably youthful- looking founder of the boxing school they attend, and they are being trained Karate Kid-style to do things with woks and other unlikely objects that come in strangely useful for fight-or-flight scenarios.
Luk and Wong are a scream, as two overgrown boys who fight over every little thing. Between them, they are almost as wonderfully silly as something out of a 1980s action comedy - Mr Vampire, for instance.
Unfortunately, the show feels obliged to also reach out to the Twilight crowd (viewers who know the recent vampire movies) and often overreaches.
Its tale of forbidden love between a vampire (Tse) and a hunter (Cheng) is just tired, probably because its producers don't believe it either. Rather, adopting an earthbound approach to fantasy, the show thinks of vampirism as a curable condition and sends the couple to the Netherlands in search of an elusive magic drink.
Still, Tse taps a vein of straight-talking comedy when she sums up her love life flatly: "We're people from different worlds, like a face mask and foundation, which won't ever appear together on the face."
My Lawyer, Mr Joe is a regular South Korean drama in which another intractable hero (Park Shin Yang) comes up against another set of insurmountable odds in pursuit of justice.
But what a fountain of emotional truth it finds in small cases concerning ordinary people: failed fathers, estranged sons, anguished mothers and the like. Even the villain here, a rich developer who has too much influence on public prosecutors, is essentially on trial for poor parenting.
VIEW IT/ BLUE VEINS
TVB First (StarHub TV Channel 860), any time
MY LAWYER, MR JOE
Viu, website and app, any time KBS World (StarHub TV Channel 815 or Singtel TV Channel 523), Mondays and Tuesdays, 8.50pm
What about the hero, Mr Joe? What kind of dad is the prosecutor-turned-convict- turned-lawyer? Well, he has been absent from his daughter's life since he clashed with the tycoon over a cover-up and spent years in jail on trumped-up corruption charges.
But he clearly misses her and talks to a picture of her in his wallet.
The show tells the other side of the story, however, that of his former wife, who is angry at him for going up against the tycoon.
He took the high road then and it takes him years to see it was his choice that cost him his family.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2016, with the headline 'Fangs and high jinks'. Print Edition | Subscribe
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