This is the theme song for Journey Called Life sung by Steven Ma and Linda Chung. Excellent song, if you ask me.
I was having a tussle in the video shop…which DVD series to buy…which one which one which one? Journey Called Life (Journey) wasn’t my favorite because of the cover. It looked like they’re going to be talking about…sigh…family life and sigh…a marathon? Sigh….please, spare me. But luckily, the sales person went out of her way to convince me that it was a very good series. I squinted at her and said, “Ya meh? Look so boring, man. I don’t want those feel-good comedy cheesy shows wan ah….” And she crosses her heart, “If this series is not good, you come back and look for me!” OK. So since she put it that way, OK lah. I bought the one with a couple of people in running clothes wan lah. It better be good. Was it good? Let’s just say I would have had to spend the sales lady a few dinners over lor…it was phenomenal! One of the best TVB series ever….really. You know how TVB sometimes try to preach to the viewers about quality life, about life in general, about love, about being a family and all that? Journey Called Life takes on a new twist and took to several ‘never before touched’ topics considered rather taboo in our conservative Asian culture. Just on that alone, Journey Called Life is to be watched. Name me a TVB series that dealt with such issues….teen delinquency, teen pregnancy, infertility, abortions, still birth, teenage drug dealing, rape, our culture’s insatiable hunger for money and riches, dealing with death, suicides…all in one show. The amazing thing is that it was all done very tastefully and it leaves one thinking more about it. It does so without preaching or patronizing the viewers or sending the viewers into the ZZZZZ land. Everyone deserves a chance Linda Chung is this softspoken TVB actress who speaks so softly you have to strain your ears to hear her so, it was a surprise for everyone when she was casted as Ka Ka who is what some people called MK girl. MK stands for Mong Kok which is an infamous area in Hong Kong where ‘bad girls’ hang around. Foul-mouthed, rough-edged, mean and basically mix around with the wrong crowd, drinks, smokes, takes drugs, party all night long every day…etc. Linda, in preparation for this role, spent some time standing near there watching these MK girls act and behave.
But was that enough to help Linda Chung act in such a way that we would believe her as a MK Girl? I was like….sure or not?????? But sure enough, she really, really proved to me (and many others) that she had it in her to act her heart out! She was ‘bad’ in the show. Basically, Ka Ka is a bad girl who led a wayward life…but it does not mean that she had a bad heart. Instead, she had a heart of gold and society merely gave her no chance. This is very common in every society we know because all these teens who are stereotyped would eventually choose to lead delinquent lives…some not by choice but because society has given up on them. Best friends in life…and in death A part of the show that touched me was the relationship between Linda Chung’s Kaka and Elaine Yiu’s Hannah. When I say that they’re best-friends, I mean that they grew up together, stood up for each other and would do anything to protect one another because ever since they were young, they had no one else. They were each other’s mother, father, uncle, auntie, sister, brother, etc. They meant the world to each other and in the circle that they were in, this is how you survive. You stick together and for one another. Both actresses delivered credibly. Although Kaka was given a chance to lead a normal life when she met with Ah On (Steven Ma), Hannah was not. And this is when the lives of the sisters started to go separate ways. Drugs, nightly partying, pill-popping….suddenly Kaka got to see first-hand, in Hannah, what she had been doing to herself all along. Coming home wasted early in the morning, popping pills to a point of fainting, sleeping around with different men all the time…and although Kaka tries to tell Hannah what she sees, Hannah cannot and asks her close friend not to broach the topic again. And this leads to Hannah’s ultimate end. When Hannah dies, Kaka has to come to terms with life without her best-friend-sister because ever since they were young, they have made a promise to one another that they were to live and die together. They wanted to be put into the same tomb and have already selected a picture that they want to put on their tombstones. Thankfully, for Kaka, she had a rope extended out to her in the form of Steven Ma and Kent Cheng. Money cannot buy everything Journey Called Life also dealt with another social taboo issue…which is greed and the value of money. Mei Sum, Ah On’s sister, lives a comfortable life and she is a pampered all throughout her life. Her personality dictates that she likes the finer things in life. She wants the best of everything…branded stuff, the best ice-cream and if she wanted something, her brother would do anything to give it to her…including buying her 11 flavors of ice-cream when she cannot decide which one she wants. So, she grew up with only one mission…to give herself a good, comfortable life and she believes that she can only achieve this by having a lot of money, without having to work too hard for it. She exchanged many things for this ‘mission’ of hers including betraying herself, her family and love. When she was working, she found pleasure in saving up money to buy each of the branded handbags that she owns. She has lots. But when she finally ‘makes it’ and have lots of money to buy whatever she wants, she found that each of the branded handbags that she so nonchalantly flaunts bears no meaning anymore. She cries at night because her mission has become meaningless and yet she is too proud to admit that she has been wrong. Hers is a character you would hate to love and love to hate because she’s a ‘baddie’ but somehow, the scriptwriters have developed her character in such a way that you cannot completely hate her. You just sit there wishing that she had repented a little earlier. Ultimately, she has to learn that money is not everything and that everyone’s responsible for the decisions that they make. Everyone’s responsible for their own lives Ah On is the kind of forgettable Mr. Nice Guy character that you would find B.O.R.I.N.G. He’s good in everything…he’s a good son, a good brother and a good employee…and his only fault is to put everyone else he loves above himself and thinks that he’s responsible for their mistakes. If his sister has gone awry, he thinks it’s his fault for not warning her. Life for Ah On has been nothing short of perfect until towards the middle of the show where lives go askew for him. He provides support for Kaka and believes that she deserves the chance to prove herself that she’s more than just the ‘bad girl’ that she portrays herself to be…little did he expect, he falls in love with her. Throughout this period of his life, he learns that he has to accept the fact that he cannot be responsible for everyone’s decision. He becomes a shadow of the optimistic fellow that he used to be when one blow after another is delivered and it takes a lot for him to find his footing again so that he has hope once again…the phase will soon be over and that miracles do happen. Giving birth to a dead baby This is an amazingly well-written part of the show. First, because of her previous badly-lived lifestyle and the many abortions she went through in the past, she discovers that there’s little chance of conceiving for Kaka. But one fine day, a miracle happens and she’s pregnant. The couple is over the moon because Ah On loves kids and would love to have kids; despite knowing that there’s very low chance of having kids of his own, he accepts Kaka. The reason why I say it’s excellent is because the couple is so happy about the pregnancy that they even used a PC program to come up with a picture of how their baby would look like in the future. And they gave their baby a name well in advance…Angel Shing Hoi Yin. The baby is a pretty little girl whose picture decorates the couple’s bedroom.
Mei Sum (An On’s sisters) drinks and drives and gets into an accident involving the seven-month pregnant Kaka. While Kaka sustains mild injuries, the major injuries suffered by the unborn baby in her stomach crushes their dreams of having a child. The baby dies and Kaka has to deliver her dead baby naturally. Very touching moment, very real as the husband and wife gives birth to their dead child, held the baby and holds the baby’s lifeless hand in theirs. Because the writers have given the baby a name and a face, the viewers grieve together with the couple as they deliver and bury their baby in the span of a few days.
The meaning of the marathon
Remember how I almost didn’t buy the series because of the ‘running picture’ on the cover? Well, as you can see, Journey Called Life is nothing about running, well, very little of it. It’s more like, it’s the philosophy or theme. Life is like a marathon. You run, you persevere, you finish the race and it means nothing at all whether you’re first, second, third, fourth or fifth….the point is, you don’t quit. The most important thing is to not give up and continue until you step over the finishing line. Towards the end, after the death of his own unborn child and his sister’s suicide, Ah On is ready to give up on life. He felt that it’s no longer worth it…there’s no point in being good when life is bad to you. As mentioned earlier, Ah On’s character is the boring, optimistic and perfect kind…but this is where he falls apart and Steven Ma delivers fantastically! He is distraught that his sister and his unborn child never got another chance. And it was his fault. He agrees to race a marathon that he does not intend to finish with his wife, Kaka. It is up to Kaka to help him finish the race with dignity and pride and confidence intact. If one of them falls apart, the other should be there for support but no matter how difficult it is to finish the race, no matter how distraught we are about life, we should never give up on the race. We should finish it with head straight and eyes ahead trained on the finishing line. Excellent Acting All Around From a ‘blah blah blah’ feeling for the series, this turns out to be a keeper. There’s excellent acting all around with the exception of only two or three actors…nevertheless, they’re negligible. I don’t know what the producers of the series injected into the actors but flawlessly, each part of the show is delivered smoothly and believably. The emotions are raw…so raw you literally physically feel it. Whenever I buy a series, I would pass the DVDs around to my sister, brother, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother and sister in law. Sometimes I don’t know where they end up and sometimes they don’t come back. Turns out, I am reluctant to lend-out Journey Called Life because I want to keep this one so that I can watch it and remind me that life is worth living, no matter how hard it is. My verdict is…watch it! The beginning is a little bland as they try to pan out the characters but bear with it because it’s gets effing good towards the middle! I am not the only one who thinks this is worth-watching series.