The theme of “understanding between parent and child” is what makes A Chip Off the Old Block emotionally and perhaps educationally good. It’s important to realize that just as your experiences shaped you into who you are today, the same goes for your parents. You definitely don’t know their whole story and sometimes, there are things they keep hidden for your benefit. (I realize this is a generalization but I believe it applies to most parents.)
Whether the writers of Chip intended to portray this struggle toward understanding between parent and child or not, I don’t know. But the theme wasn’t fully explored anyway. There were also various loopholes in the plot, which I assume is because there were 5 writers putting together this story. Still, with the addition of some layered main characters, a neighborhood of whackos, and nice comedy flare, I would say Chip is a slightly better than average show with a subtle tinge of depth.
In present day Hong Kong lives a man Chor Chi who correlates success only with money, even if his profession of promoting harmful substances such as tobacco could hurt others. His father Chor Fan (Sunny Chan) is extremely against this and continuously nags Chi about it. The father and son both refuse to bend their beliefs. The gist of what happens next is that Chor Chi accidentally gets sent back in time, approximately 40 years ago, and becomes “brothers” with his dad as he mingles with the neighbors there and discovers what experiences had made his dad become such a stubborn, conservative old man. Chi also uses this chance to find out his mother’s identity, a subject his dad always avoided.
What I really like is how the story unfolded, mostly from Chi’s perspective. You are put into Chi’s shoes right from the beginning because like him, you know practically nothing about the other characters. As he learns about them, you are allowed the chance to peel off their surfaces and grab at the reasons for their actions. At the same time, you’ll also watch them influence Chi, even though he doesn’t know or admit it. And for once, a TVB series didn’t lose focus while having a lot of characters. Chip is very character-driven but that’s precisely what gave it a boost. The characters complement one another. For example, Chor Fan is generous and gullible while Fung Nei (Myolie Wu) is greedy and sly and their individual principles might be annoyingly farfetched, but they are fun to watch when together. The characters and their antics are what created the story, the twists, the irony, and the crazy laugh-out-loud occurrences.
I had a good laugh at the ending. But no, I don’t think there is not going to be a sequel. Chip left no room for a continuation so a sequel would be complete nonsense. What would there be to see? Chor Fan and Chor Chi in the future? Please, no. You may argue that they need to find Chi’s mother. I would argue that one, she is not Fung Nei, and two, who she is doesn’t matter at all.
Sunny Chan as Chor Fan
“All for one and one for all.” That is the motto Ah Fan stands by and for a good reason. He’s not trying to be a hero nor a saint. People take advantage of him and he knows it, but doesn’t care. He believes that by giving, he’ll eventually receive and he’s giving because he had received. If he wasn’t saved/adopted by Ko Shan Chuen (John Chiang), Ah Fan wouldn’t have anything, not even a life. What then does he have to lose? Well, his kindness can get on your nerves because you just want to slap him and yell, “Not everyone is like you, dork!” which Chi kind of did. Nevertheless, Ah Fan is a very likeable character and I suppose I must applaud Sunny for that. I haven’t much else to say as far as his acting because I can only remember Ah Fan, not Sunny, which must mean Sunny did a fantastic job.
Ron Ng as Chor Chi
Chor Chi is the type of person I generally cannot tolerate. He thinks he’s smarter than everyone else, always right, always justified to be the ambitious, rebellious, greedy person he is. Put him next to Ah Fan and you’ll have no problem distinguishing dark and light, but Chi is not evil. He’s just selfish and skeptical of others. He’s a survivor and remains a survivor. That is actually what made the characterization so great. Every character remained consistent and didn’t convert 180 degrees even when they do realize their flaws and change for the better. Ah Fan became less gullible but still generous and forgiving. Chi became less selfish but still smart and skeptical.
But anyway, I’m supposed to be talking about Ron and his Chor Chi. I have seen many of Ron’s series but honestly, I barely remember how he portrayed any of his roles. We can blame his poor acting, blank expressions, boring characters, whatever, but whatever it was, he’s found a cure. I think he has finally recognized his acting style, learned how to get himself into character, and be comfortable as his character. Nevertheless, Ron’s portrayal of Chor Chi is in no way phenomenal. He was often overshadowed in his scenes with Sunny, Myolie, and the veterans. But it’s definitely a good “re-start” and I hope he’ll improve from there.
Myolie Wu as So Fung Nei
Are you looking for Myolie in a role where she can stretch as much as she wants and truly display her abilities? Search no more. This is it. Fung Nei is a scandalous swindler you’ll love to hate but can’t hate because she cons rich, lustful men. And which rich, lustful man doesn’t deserve getting his money taken when the money can be used to save 3 lives, right? At some point, Fung Nei could have stopped being a swindler but tricking people just became a habit and it’s funny to watch her eventually catching herself in the act.
Fung Nei is surely a breakthrough role for Myolie, who seriously went all out in her portrayal. From her mannerism to her tone, everything exerted the aura of a cunning, sneaky little swindler who wants nothing but the smell of cash. I absolutely loved watching her in-your-face sassy, queenly reactions whenever Fung Nei gets busted. Unfortunately, Chip did not get very much buzz so Myolie will have to try and deliver the awesomeness again for further recognition from a larger audience.
Shirley Yeung as Ching Lan Fun
I don’t really have anything nice to say about Ah Fun or Shirley. One is an altogether dry character with some jealousy issues that got boring and irritating really fast, and the other is a rather dull actress whose acting simply has not improved to save her life. (Save me your defenses and tomatoes. I only saw 2 episodes of The Brink of Law and don’t care to see more.) Ah Fun was fine as a background character, but when the spotlight shone on her, well; her actress couldn’t pull it off. Shirley needs to understand that not all “cute” characters are “cute” in the same over-the-top jumpy way and not all “cute” characters try extra hard to be “cute”.
Having expected Chip to be a comedy, it did meet the bar, mostly thanks to the well-written characters and witty dialogue as well as good acting. As I’ve said, Chip circles around its characters, not so much its plot. The only theme I picked up is the importance in understanding between parent and child, which generally depends on characters’ interactions and exposition rather than a plot. However, the theme wasn’t fully explored or made to be emotionally touching because the writers had more fun throwing other characters’ problems into the mix, leaving Chip to be the comedy it was designed to be. The twists near the end, then, were merely devices to give the “story” a conclusion albeit being quite clever.
For the most part, Chip is enjoyable if you don’t think too much and I would recommend it if you don’t have anything better to do for 21 hours. But actually, if you do pick it up, I do NOT recommend watching Chip in one sitting because you might get tired of the comedy really fast and the flaws will glare at you.