Get a free giffgaff Sim Hi there...: Review of "Master of Play" (心戰)

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Review of "Master of Play" (心戰)

Quick review on youtube (longer review below):

(No Good Either Way review

Plot in short (spoilers alert!)
Siu Nam 靳兆楠 (Adam Cheng)
Ivan 章世言 (Moses Chan)
Ester 李楚蕎 (Maggie Siu)
Natalie 章世婷 (Aimee Chan)
Kong Sir 江Sir (Matt Yeung)

25 years ago, Siu Nam's 4 years old daughter Tansy was abducted, the kidnappers mistaking her for another child. Since then he never heard anything about Tansy; she never returned and her body was never found. 25 years later Siu Nam still strongly believed that Tansy is still alive. 

25 years later after Tansy disappears, Siu Nam meets siblings Ivan and Natalie. It is revealed through Ivan's memories and thoughts that he was one of the kidnappers of Tansy, but her fate was not revealed to the audience. Guilty of his actions, Ivan allows his little sister to befriend Siu Nam, and the two become good friends. 

Further on the series, Ivan starts to murder people. He murders a relative and also Jerry, Natalie's ex-boyfriend. After the Jerry's corpse is found by the police, the hunt begins for the murderer. Soon afterwards
Ivan's fiance, Ester splits up with him due to his fidelity. More murders are committed, adding pressure to the police. 

Meanwhile, slightly earlier in the story Siu Nam finds that he can get into people's character and find out about the thoughts decisions that the person makes. He helps the police to solve cases from this. Naturally he is also involved in helping to solve these murder cases. He suspects that Ivan is the murderer at one point. Since the murders occurred on Wednesdays, Siu Nam watched over Ivan on a Wednesday night, yet another murder was committed that night. Siu Nam therefore apologises to Ivan.

Shortly after Ester and Siu Nam become a pair. Ester wishes that Siu Nam stop helping the police with the murder cases, especially when the man who chopped off her arm three years ago is believed to be involved in the case by the police.

For several reasons Kong Sir kidnaps Ester and tries to replicate the situation where her arm was chopped off to help solve the case. With no development Kong Sir attempts to chopped her other arm off to make her memories more vivid. 
Surprisingly, Ester grabs a knife and plunges it into Kong Sir's body, and even complains about him moving about too much as his is getting blood everywhere which she has to clean up. 
She then strangles him to death. 

Siu Nam starts to suspect that Ester is the murderer and also finds that Ester does not actually love him. Ivan also discovers the same. After Ivan confronts Ester it turns out that Ester found out about Ivan murdering Jerry. She killed all the other people to cover up for him. Ester then admits the murders to the police, lies that she also killed Jerry and commits suicide in jail.

After Ester's death Siu Nam and Ivan gets into a battle of wits. Siu Nam deduces that Ester's story must be a cover up for Ivan. Ivan decides to kill Siu Nam, but accidently murders Steve, his close friend instead. 
Natalie finds out and is angry at her brother. She then gets ran over by a car. 

Siu Nam guesses that Ivan is the murderer of Steve. However when Natalie wakes up in hospital she tells the police that her brother was with her at the time that Steve was murdered so Ivan could not have been the murderer. Furthermore she tells Siu Nam that she is his long lost daughter Tansy. She says that kidnapped by Ivan and his father, Ivan accidently killed his father and raised Natalie as his own sister.

Afterwards, Natalie reveals to Siu Nam that she is not actually Tansy, but only lied to save her brother as he killed Steve. Ivan also then tells Siu Nam that his father killed Tansy. After some conflict, Ivan strangles Natalie and Siu Nam kills Ivan to save Natalie. 
Realising that Tansy is dead, Siu Nam gets stuck into Ivan's character as he believes that Ivan's character has more meaning than his; Ivan still had a sister, but Siu Nam had no one anymore. 

To prove to Natalie that Siu Nam was her brother, Siu Nam decides to perform a live magic trick on TV. He is in a box suspended in mid-air above a big fire. He is chained together and has only minutes to unlock the locks and save himself. If not the box will fall and he will die in the fire.
Of course, since he is not Ivan, he cannot perform the magic trick. He realises that he is not Ivan, but Siu Nam. Being fully awake, he throws himself towards the walls of the box to try and free himself.

The next scene is an extract from Shakespeare's "The Tempest". We hear Siu Nam's voice. He tells us that he has finally let the past go, accepting that Tansy has gone forever and he finally feels at rest.

My thoughts
An open ending, we do not know for sure whether Siu Nam's character survived. 
As it is an open ending, I believe he did: to be honest I don't have a reason, but as Siu Nam decides that he wants to continue living, I believe he can.

Personally, even thought the ending was thrilling, I felt slightly let down by the feasibility of the magic trick. In real life, how ever "cool" a magic trick is there should not be the possibility of a the magician dying- it would make terrible television if it did. There would be lots of safety measures, and if Siu Nam did fall into the fire a load of firemen would immediately pop out and put out the fire and the paramedics would swiftly whisk him to hospital. The company hosting Siu Nam's magic trick would not want to be sued.

I felt really sorry for Siu Nam. I could tell how much Tansy meant to him and his sadness in realising that Tansy really was dead. I find the saddest thing is that he'll never know where her body is.

I find at weird how Natalie reacts to things. When she found out that Ivan was having an affair whilst going out with Ester she cried lots over it, moving out and refusing to talk to him for ages. It can be understandable as it was also during a time when Ivan was changing.
However she also got really upset about Siu Nam when she found out he was going out with Ester. I found this a but silly as Ester had already broken up with her brother a while ago and Natalie knew that it was Ivan's fault.
Yet when she found out that her brother had killed Steve, although angry, she still talked to him. This could be because she has matured. But, I don't remember her crying for Steve at all, they were good friends after all.

After the first week or so I was slightly bored. Though I thought the episodes were watchable, I was never fully engaged into the story. I just wanted to know the ending. However I watched every episode. I know the show was supposed to have lots of deep and meaningful issues. Unfortunately I didn't understand much of them.

However it is nice to see TVB doing something different. I do think it is a good production. Good main leads, and unexpected twist and turns. Personally I didn't think Master of Play was scary either. Definitely not suitable for young children. But if people are bored of those typical TVB dramas with a barbeque ending,  Master of Play is a good alternative. 


miriamfanz said... [Reply]

I'm sure there was supposed to be all sorts of meanings behind Jonathan Chik's production, but too ambiguous such that most ppl would rather not watch. I have also written a review at I think we can agree on many things.

Anonymous said... [Reply]

In the end, Adam Cheng didn’t die.

Scene with him & Tansy in the dream reflected he has finally accepted Tansy is really deceased!! He will LET GO of her, only remembered all those good memories of his beloved daughter in his heart forever.

The final scene, the rehearsal dressing room there were Adam’s scripts on the mirror and a hot tea. The crew was rehearsing outside… we hear lots of voices from different pple. The ending sand drawings spoke of freedom from bondage, being rid of one's inner demons.

On the rehearsing lines:
A lady’s voice speaking for a long while to the Majesty/King…. and she said that the DUKE will explain all the things that have happened to him while he came to the island etc… Next by the King who said he is really keen to listen to all the tales….

Finally the last Person who spoke after the King was actually Adam (supposedly the duke) who began to recount the tales….

Adam's voice is really distinct if you watch his dramas frequently... and will surely recognises his voice that is…

So to me Adam was actually saved in reality from the magic trick fire and also saved (freed) from his inner demons…..

Life resumes back to normal and Adam back to living his stage life as usual... End!

A really good Drama.... not gory but interesting... much much better than'When Heaven Burns'!!!! I like such DARK plots that TVB is moving into these days.....

Though many old tvb viewers would not like and prefer those old period Jin Yong's kungfu or modern day plots starring Wong Yat Wah , Gallen lo etc....

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