There’re some dramas that struck a cord and sticks with you for a long time. Like, a long time. For me, that series was Survivor’s Law (律政新人王), a 2003 TVB series starring Raymond Lam, Myolie Wu, Sammul Chan and Bernice Liu. Four newbies at the time tasked with leading a series. Not much hope was placed on it at the time but the gamble worked. It achieved high ratings and even spawned a not-so-great sequel. All four leads have now made a name for themselves so it’s fun to watch how far they have come.
Personally, this was THE series that made me fall in love with Raymond Lam. A journey that took me to new places and meeting other like minded fangirls from all over the world. Maybe it’s my sense of nostalgia talking but if you ask me now, I will still say my favourite Raymond character is Ben from Survivor’s Law. He came from a time before the gentle, caring male lead was a ‘trend’. (Like Li Da Ren is now.) Heck, I was even tempted to become a lawyer because of this series.
Of course it is not perfect. There are some parts which requires the audience to stretch their imagination a bit and I’m sure the legal side may not be so accurate. However, I still love it to death and am so glad to hear it’s finally available on Viki. I know it’s old school – but really, if you’ve forgotten how good TVB series can be, you should watch it!
[Yes the folks at Viki asked whether I was interested in reviewing this series, but seriously, I bought the DVDs some years ago and any excuse to fangirl over this series I’m in.]
The synopsis from Viki:
On the pecking order of legal firms, H.K. Firm is at the bottom in performance and respect. Owner Homer Hong (Lok Ying Kwan) has had his law license revoked after he offended a judge, so he is forced to hire a group of young lawyers to try to revive his struggling law firm. Ben Lok (Raymond Lam) has been fired from his previous law firm because of his unconventional ways, so his only job option leads him to H.K. Firm. Vincent Cheuk (Sammul Chan) was tired of serving as an assistant to a big-time lawyer at a larger firm and comes to H.K. to try his own cases. Jessica Chiang (Bernice Liu) has always had a crush on Vincent so she follows him to the new firm. Chung Ching Ling (Myolie Wu) was ostracized at her previous firm for being a little too zealous with her work and came to H.K. Firm to pursue her craft. Can the new group of lawyers prove that they are a legal force to be reckoned with? “Survivor’s Law” is a 2003 Hong Kong drama series. It was followed by the sequel “Survivor’s Law II” (2007).
Here’s the trailer:
Episodes 1 to 5 went by in a breeze, introducing our four leads and how they came to work for HK Firm.
Ben Lok (Raymond Lam)
Comes from a close knit family with a younger sister. With his father’s recent retrenchment, Ben becomes the sole income earner of his family. They may live modestly but being together is more important. At the start of the series, Ben worked in a large firm but his quirky and unconventional ways are not so popular in the rigid and tradition ridden legal profession. In his first solo case, he manages to find justice for his poor client but unfortunately at the expense of one of his firm’s major clients. But Ben doesn’t regret it. He became a lawyer to seek justice for everyone, especially the less privileged.
Chung Ching Ling / Ling Ling (Myolie Wu)
With a strong sense of justice and seeking what is best for her clients, Ling Ling is the only daughter of the Chung family. She’s very close to her parents and they’re fairly middle class. She meets Ben in a courthouse, mistaken him for a pervert and generally doesn’t have a favourable impression on him because of his seemingly casual attitude. However, when they were opposing sides for a case and Ben thought of a creative way to resolve their clients’ differences, Ling’s views of Ben began to change. However, since her client settled the matter out of court, her mentor wasn’t too happy about it because it was a high profile case. As Ling also joins the unemployment queue, Ben refers her to HK Firm…
Vincent Cheuk (Sammul Chan)
Ambitious and dare I say a bit arrogant, Vincent actually resigned from his job to work for HK Firm. Why leave a secure job for a firm with such bad reputation? Independence. Vincent wants control over his own cases but if he stays in a large firm, he’ll need to work under a mentor. He may not be the most empathic person and probably care more about winning, but his father (a respected policeman) has always taught him what is right or wrong.
Jessica Chiang (Bernice Liu)
She’s the best friend you want to have. Always caring and thinking of others first. Not exactly the first traits you think of as a lawyer. Somehow, she does have a license to practice law I say somehow, because she does not have the confidence at all and in the courtroom, she just looks like she’s lost. It’s supposed to be a nerves thing, but one wonders how she got through law school in the first place. She lives with her Aunt, a successful and experienced barrister Angela, who probably babysits Jessica too much which is not helping Jessica’s confidence. At the start of the series, she was working in a large firm (same one as Ben) but because of her Aunt, a partner there, she was saved from retrenchment. However, her crush on Vincent brought her to HK Firm, just to get closer to him.
Resolved Cases from Episodes 1 to 5
- Wife sues husband for rape (Ben vs Ling)
- Ben’s ex Mary (Sharon Chan), whose current boyfriend Joe (Kenneth Ma) is being charged with indecent assault (Ben + Ling)
- Bullied child fighting back (Vincent + Jessica)
Survivor’s Law is structured around various cases our lawyers work on, with each cases being resolved within 2 to 3 episodes. This is a pretty common for TVB ‘procedurals’ and the first few cases here are interesting and explores issues that are still relevant today. I just love it when Ben and Ling work together regardless of whether they’re on the same side. Ling is always annoyed with Ben’s playful attitude while Ben always love to tease her. Who doesn’t love bickering couples? Raymond and Myolie have a lot of chemistry and I can’t stop giggling whenever they tease each other.
In contrast, there’re a couple of scenes where Vincent is showing an interest in Ling – maybe not yet romantically. They’re more reserved, more professional and I guess this pairing is more ‘logical’ on paper, although really, they’re lacking the sparks that make the heart flutter. As a side note, Jessica’s crush on Vincent is very one sided at the moment. But we know Vincent is a smart guy, out of the four he seems most like an actual lawyer. Always dressed to impress and speaks with confidence, he knows Jessica likes him but he just smiles to himself and probably enjoys the attention.
Ah I digressed and talked about the relationships so far but I just HAVE to mention the case involving guest star Kenneth Ma. I’m certain this series was THE reason why I still think Kenneth Ma is kinda… pervy. LOL. Like even though it has been many years and Kenneth played a lot of good guys since, I just can’t help but think he’s so much better as the bad guy, a pervy one, no less. Take it as a compliment. His portrayal of a pervert is so good here it’s like entrenched in my mind for like, over 10 years.
The other two cases I mentioned here, do bring up some interesting issues. Although they weren’t explored in depth. Vincent’s case was actually quite serious, however, his legal tactics are questionable – especially when he pretty much changes his defence part way through the case. To be honest, that just screams lack of preparation. If you knew your client was being bullied wouldn’t you get a psychologist’s report straight away? I guess I’ve always had this issue with TVB’s legal shows – you just have to accept the writers will take a lot of liberty with how the real world works.
I guess for me, Survivor’s Law is more about the relationships of our four leads than the cases. Plus of course, the theme song – I LOVE THIS SONG. And this concert version may not be the most perfect but it brings back all the feels, it’s from his first concert at the Hong Kong Coliseum back in June 2009.