Another TV Binge here!
I thought it was fantastic to see Taiwanese series on Netflix but now, Hong Kong TV series are also gradually flocking there. Its nice to see it, even if the bigger series haven’t quite landed there yet. There are some awesome shows that honestly, I’ve missed out on in the last few years. While those shows are good, it is hard to not admit that Hong Kong series are quite predictable and very formulaic, including dialogue. However, perhaps its a sense of nostalgia and the fact that I really enjoy watching certain actors and actresses and just the idea of something really simple that I like to spend my downtime to relax and give those a go. While Netflix isn’t showing any incredible Hong Kong series, the ones I’ve seen on there are actually pretty meaningful. Like this one for example, The Neighborhood, released in 2014 and a rather short series funded partially by the government in collaboration with RTHK radio station to encourage caring for and building the community in each neighborhood.
Let’s check it out!
The Neighborhood (2014)
Cast: Chin Siu Ho, Xian Se Li, Chan Lai Wun, Ma Chi Wai, Mang Hoi, MastaMic, Det Dik
When laundromat owner in a neighborhood goes missing, everyone starts wondering where he is and starts realizing how little they know about the people they deal with every day. Until the laundromat owner’s estranged daughter Zoe shows up and ends up staying there. Her arrival and reluctance slowly change as she gets more involved in the community and she changes everyone as much as everyone changes her. The short form of this fifteen episode TV series is generally that. While this community does show a lot of people, the focus is on a few people that cover the different demographic and really how much each of these people regardless if they want it, do need to be cared for, even if they have everything planned like the mysterious old lady who sits at the top of the stairs everyday or a the crazy man called CIA who wanders about jotting down everyone’s information but breaking out into random made up silly songs or the patrol cop who sees the people in the neighborhood to be odd and quirky. Everyone has their story and in each episode, they hone into a different part of them as they grow closer together with the changes in the community and the fact that things may change but the people we know sometimes will leave a mark in our hearts.
The Neighborhood does a really good job at being a neighborhood. Sure, there are some predictable moments and its pretty obvious how things will turn out but still, there is still some sort of mystery behind these characters as we peel back the layers one episode after the next to reveal their inspirations and who each of them are. Not everyone is a good person but yet, for a 30 minute episode length, it does help flesh out the character a little more and with each appearance in the episodes, all the characters do feel very personal. However, this isn’t a drama so while it is very much in the line of Asian cinema to be very dramatic (particularly in series), this one knows how to keep it lighthearted and positive. Perhaps the jokes might not translate completely well in the subtitles however the essence of the show is still there.
The focal point is definitely on Zoe, who is the younger generation along with the “young blood” of the neighborhood, Kei. While they are the first to meet each other and rather newer to the neighborhood, the differences in their point of views of how much to invest their time and feelings into their community are quite opposites and in many ways, they grow together. While you may expect a love story to blossom, surprisingly, the core of the show is not about that. Everything works out in a believable way. It definitely does lead the way and forge a path for certain relationships to build and there is a sense of it all being rehearsed and probably too coincidental, however, if you take out some of these factors and see that sometimes life does hand us these relationships that are forever or passing but still hold some meaning.
Perhaps, my love and exposure of the Hong Kong series has made me a little easier on this one, However, The Neighborhood holds its own meaning especially for a very densely populated city like Hong Kong and where everyone is always on the go and life is very routine. This series not only highlights a very important message perhaps even more for those living in Hong Kong and their community but also the fact that it does strive to show off the different areas of Hong Kong, using real life shots of the area to highlight its distinctive characteristics in each neighborhood. It was fun and entertaining and for me, that is all I ask for, plus its not overly long so its a refreshing breath of air to just relax and enjoy a series like this one.