“Al Cappuccino” is a Drama Full of Sincerityjessie tan
TVB black comedy, Al Cappuccino <反黑路人甲>, received good reviews after its initial week of broadcast. Suspenseful but also light-hearted, the tempo of the drama is just right and makes viewers anticipate the next episode. Even though the drama centers around undercover cops, there are enough unconventional surprises and twists which make Al Cappuccino a contender for TVB’s best drama in 2020 so far.
Following the story of how actor Cheung Sai Lun (Vincent Wong 王浩信) is recruited as a police informant to infiltrate the triad, he meets undercover cop Gao Bun (Owen Cheung 張振朗). The duo’s comedic timing is perfect, giving nuanced performances that are supported by a strong veteran cast consisting of Henry Lee (李成昌), David Chiang (姜大衛), Chun Wong (秦煌), KK Cheung (張國強), and Shek Sau (石修).
The sincerity of the drama’s production can clearly be seen through its attention to small details. Adding a nostalgic tribute, lines from classic television series and movies are often wittingly incorporated in the script. The cinematography style is similar to a movie, and utilizes sound effects and music to maximize on the comedic element.
TVB dramas often have interesting premises and start off on promising notes, but fail to sustain momentum in their plot and lose viewer interest along the way. A common shortcoming is the story starts losing its focus midway when it branches into different tangents, and spends too much time on relationship scenes.
While Al Cappuccino also has relationship arcs, the scenes are kept short and humorous despite its large female cast consisting of seven actresses: Kathy Yuen (湯怡), Samantha Ko (高海寧), Crystal Fung (馮盈盈), Angel Chiang (蔣家旻), Winki Lai (賴慰玲), Kelly Fu (傅嘉莉), and Serene Lim (林宣妤). For example, in the morning-after scene when Vincent and Kathy Yuen (湯怡) wake up from their night of passion, drool marks can be seen on Vincent’s pillow.
The third episode may have been the weakest so far because of Vincent’s background story and the introduction of the triad’s organization structure. Even though this segment of the story is needed, the process seemed a little drawn out and too much time was spent on the internal workings of the branches of the triads. Once Vincent officially joins the triad, this will no longer be a problem as the story arcs converge and the following episodes revolve around his climb to higher ranks.
Al Cappuccino is a production full of sincerity and a breath of fresh air similar to the recently concluded Death by Zero <殺手>, but will it be able to keep up its momentum? As only one-fifth of the 30-episode drama has aired, it is still too soon to tell whether TVB will fall back into its old habits, but hopefully it will continue to entertain after a promising start.