30 May 2003
Readers write in about Lionel Seah’s negative review of the new Channel 5 drama Chemistry, which is produced by Rushes Networks, and Ong Sor Fern’s Tome Raider column and article on The Matrix.
I REFER to Lionel Seah’s review of Chemistry (Chemistry Flunks The Test, May 26).
The show had me glued for the whole half-hour.
Sure it helps that the leads are attractive, but Lu Rui En‘s acting actually draws you in.
Being a woman, it would have been easy for me to hate her for her beauty and I wouldn’t hesitate to criticise her acting skills.
But she came across as natural and definitely outshone Howard Cheung in the first episode.
Acting skills aside, the plot might not be the most original, but it is good enough for some relaxing entertainment on TV. I don’t feel in any way that it flunked the test. I think it only failed Mr Seah’s test.
I hope he wasn’t using personal, biased reasons in judging Chemistry because, honestly, it is one of the more watchable locally produced shows.
Sparks do fly in Chemistry and I won’t put it down so fast.
It definitely deserves better reviews, not prejudiced, immature comments.
Categorised in The Straits Times.
29 May 2003
WATCHING the new local romantic comedy, Chemistry, is akin to sitting in front of a school lab experiment, praying that the results will turn out accurate.
You see, creating a successful TV show is a science in itself.
Complementary elements (script, direction, cast) are blended, but just the exact amount of heat and timing are of utmost importance.
On-screen couples like Tony Leung-Maggie Cheung and Zoe Tay-Li Nanxing have mastered the art of having chemistry ooze from their pores.
Not so with acting newbies Lu Rui En and Howard Cheung.
The abrupt and dull debut episode could have benefited from a full one-hour opener to properly introduce the couple.
Rachel (Rui En) is a cynical radio deejay who rolls her eyes at the concept of love, until she meets CK (Howard), an uptight expat fitness consultant.
By a cliched twist of fate, they switch bodies ala The Hot Chick.
They become joined at the hip, and soon, animosity melts into affection.
Judging from the trailer, the show actually gets a shot of adrenaline when CK (in Rachel’s body) struggles to wear a bra and accidentally walks into a ladies’ loo.
Unfortunately, I don’t see such gender-centric fish-out-of-water gags lasting another 12 episodes.
And I hope Howard won’t overdo his one-note brow-furrowing expression.
On the other hand, Rui En is a natural in front of the camera. She shines while delivering ego-deflating lines like: ‘At least I eat my food! You, on the other hand, can’t even handle a carrot. Call yourself a man.’
Rui En definitely makes the grade, but Chemistry scores a C.
Chemistry is shown over Channel 5 on Thursdays at 9pm.
Source: The New Paper
26 May 2003
The results are in: Channel 5’s new series – Chemistry – doesn’t so much sizzle as fizzle. Will someone light a bunsen burner under it, please?
Thursdays, 8.30 pm
IF THERE is one thing more exciting than watching the debut episode of Channel 5’s new series, Chemistry, it is memorising the Periodic Table.
Judging by the episode last Thursday, the 13-parter is the television equivalent of helium, the most inert element in the table. Half an hour of it is enough to leave viewers bereft of life.
Chemistry is produced by Rushes Network, the production house of Hype Records to which the series’ leads, Lu Rui En and Howard Cheung, are signed on to.
The storyline revolves around a girl and a guy with clashing personalities who finally overcome their animosity and fall in love. Only the words in a Hallmark card can beat this for originality.
In the first episode, the male and female leads, played by newcomers Cheung and Rui En respectively, swopped souls and took over each others’ bodies.
It was very much like Prelude To A Kiss. But, presumably, the scriptwriter has not watched that film before. Or All Of Me. Or Freaky Friday. Or The Hot Chick.
Maybe because the debut episode was expository, setting the scene for what is to unfold in future episodes, there wasn’t much excitement going on.
Thursday’s show moved like a one-legged man with gout, though only to explode in its own face like a bad experiment that went horribly wrong.
The casting of singer and part-time model Rui En as Rachel, a headstrong radio DJ, is a huge mistake.
She is pretty, but no actress. Her acting lacks subtlety and has as much depth as a petri dish in a laboratory.
She carries a wide range of expressions. All, unfortunately, involve her playing cute and putting on a series of exasperated looks. We could be looking at the next Fiona Xie here.
Rui En is actually fine in small doses. In fact, her ‘acting’ is passable in Jay Chou’s Secret Signal MTV clip and in the SingTel HiCard advertisement in which she appears.
And, she’s a much better singer than actress, as those who have heard her self-titled debut Mandarin album would attest to.
Who knows, Chemistry, the musical might have worked better for her?
Thankfully, there are redeeming factors to the show. Each episode is only 30 minutes long. And the colours look rich and deep, like Money, one of MediaCorp’s better series, a few years back.
In fact, the colours are so brilliant that in the first episode, Rui En’s multi-coloured eye-shadow – though no fault of hers, poor girl – made her look like a talking parrot.
The best thing about the show is Hong Kong-based model Cheung. He doesn’t over act, and in an industry known for over-the-top acting, he bucks the trend.
He is also eye candy, which is a requirement in a series that is – like others before and many to follow – essentially a case of style over substance.
And if Cheung goes topless ever so often as Vincent Ng does in Heartlanders, he might well be guaranteed longevity in Singapore’s TV scene.
Chemistry is a wake up call that there should be a Geneva Convention for television, that gratuitous showing of pretty faces without acting talent should be banned.
Admittedly, Chemistry could do a U-turn and show an impressive next 12 episodes. Right now, it positively makes Light Years, the teen series on Channel 5, watchable.
But only after one has exhausted memorising the Periodic Table.
Source: The Straits Times
22 May 2003
Showtime & Lifestyle
COULD life imitate art?
Two people – as different as day and night – meet and fall in love.
But that’s the TV plot.
In the case of actors Lu Rui En and Howard Cheung, the falling in love bit is still a question mark.
Both are lead actors in the new local English series, Chemistry, about free-spirited radio deejay Rachel, who falls for strait-laced fitness consultant CK after overcoming a string of misunderstandings and differences.
And since the two characters were actually modelled on the leads’ real-life personalities, things might just get interesting.
In fact, just as in the plot of the romantic comedy, it took quite a while for Rui En and Hong Kong-born Howard to warm up to each other during the rehearsals.
Rui En, 22, who launched her debut album in January, told The New Paper frankly over lunch on Tuesday: ‘I thought that him being a model, he would be the vain sort.’
And according to her, Howard didn’t help matters by hanging out with the guys and not really bothering with her.
But after a ‘psychotherapy’ session ordered by the producer so that both can exude more chemistry on the show, the pair started to get along a lot better.
The final-year NTU business undergrad added: ‘I totally got it (my first impression) wrong.
‘Howard’s actually got another side to him. He’s very patient and gentle, and when he gets to know you better, he will actually start telling you jokes.’
Soon after the ice was broken, the couple even started teasing each other.
‘I would tease him about his love for health food, and he would bully me back by making me feel guilty about what I was eating.
He would go, Do you know how much oil that contains?’. He’s just like HNN – Health News Network – I can ask him all sorts of questions about health.’
When The New Paper called Howard in Hong Kong, where he’s based, the first-time actor would only describe his co-star as ‘very pretty’.
The difference between them was painfully obvious.
While Rui En was gregarious and lively, 26-year-old Howard was shy and subdued.
He then claimed that he didn’t spend much time with Rui En off the set because she was ‘always so busy’.
But unlike the Chemistry script, the ‘love’ story of Rui En and Howard may not progress beyond friendship.
When asked whether sparks will spill over from reel to real life, both didn’t sound too keen.
Howard would commit only to a polite ‘anything’s possible’, while Rui En was a bit more adamant.
She said: ‘I don’t believe in opposites attract.’
He’s not really my type, and I’m quite fussy about type.’
Then she added: ‘But I guess you can say that he’s a potential can lor.’
So how well do Rui En and Howard know each other? How much chemistry do they have after working on Chemistry? We put them through the test …
What is his favourite phrase?
Rui En: Dude.
Howard: Isn’t life exhilarating?
What is his pet peeve?
R: This one I know! Confirmed! Forgetting to bring his health food and having to eat ‘unhealthy’ food like the rest of us!
Do you know that he comes to the shoot carrying two huge backpacks full of health food?
He eats his cereal in the morning, has fish soup for lunch and he prepares his own afternoon snack of an apple and tuna mixed with olive oil … every day!
H: Smoking I guess, I don’t like smoking. But she’s right about the two backpacks, only thing is I’ve never forgotten (my health food)!
What is his worst habit?
R: Farting. He doesn’t do it all the time, but he’s been known to do it, even in the air-con room! And apparently, it smells very bad, which is very shocking, since he doesn’t really eat red meat. He has never done it in front of me, but he has threatened to.
H: Sleeping in. I’ve been late for filming before, but so have the rest.
(We then told him what Rui En said.) Oh no! But it’s a guy thing, farting in front of one another! I hate the smell of smoking. I have to fart to neutralise the smoke.
What is his secret fantasy?
R: To open a martial arts school and a health food cafe.
H: To become a professional tennis player.
* ON RUI EN
What is her favourite phrase?
Howard: (pauses for a very long while) I can’t recall her having one.
Rui En: Wah lao eh! (As in her favourite phrase, not Howard’s inability to answer the question.)
What is her pet peeve?
H: I don’t know. It’s been a while since we last met, and we spent only three months together … Why don’t you tell me her answer, and I’ll go, ‘oh yah, that’s right’?
R: Having to wait for something.
What is her worst habit?
R: Biting my nails and picking at my toe-nails. Especially during exam time when I have to study. I can’t sit still, I have to find something to do. And because of that, I’m very ashamed of my toe-nails, I don’t like people to see them.
What’s her secret fantasy?
H: To meet Takeshi Kaneshiro. She really likes him. When we talk about it, she will go ‘Oh, so gorgeous!’
R: My secret fantasy will be to go sky-diving.
X-Men or The Matrix?
Rui En: X-Men
Dogs or cats?
H: Dogs. I like cats too, but I’m allergic to them.
Suntan lotion or sunblock?
Which came first – the chicken or the egg?
Is the glass half empty or half full?
R: Half full
H: Half full
Wow, 4 out of 5 – sizzling hot chemistry!
Source: The New Paper
22 May 2003
Will Chemistry, a new Channel 5 romantic comedy premiering tonight, fare better than recent teen drama Light Years and comeback sitcom Under One Roof? The 13-episode series starts off on a Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus footing before twisting into a happy ending.
SAMUEL LEE talks to lead actors Howard Cheung and Lu Rui En.
WHO: Lu Rui En, 22
RUI EN WHO?: I was the ‘running girl’ in the SingTel HiCard ad. I’ve also appeared on Channel 8 drama No Problem and in Jay Chou’s music video for Secret Signal last year. I released my first Mandarin R&B album earlier this year.
WHAT’S UP: I’m now one semester away from a degree in banking and finance at Nanyang Technological University.
WHY SHOULD WE WATCH CHEMISTRY: It’s not the usual boy-meets-girl, enemies-become-lovers storyline. There are lots of supernatural and fantasy elements, and some sleaze and suspense. In Episode 1, Howard and I swop souls and go into each other’s bodies – which means I have to act like him and he, me.
WHAT DO YOU PLAY: Rachel, a stubborn radio DJ quite like me – clumsy, un-girl and jaded about love and men because of my single-parent upbringing. The only difference is that I don’t suan people (make sarcastic jibes) at every turn.
CHEMISTRY MEANS: No bedroom scene and not much kissing – both on- and off-screen – because I have no time to create any chemistry with anyone.
Chemistry debuts tonight on Channel 5 at 9pm, but will air at 8.30pm on Thursdays starting next week.
Source: The Straits Times
19 May 2003
Hype Records: The local record label is known for grooming local stars, including Stella Ng and Rui En. It organises a massive talent search once a year and constantly scouts for promising new acts.
Source: The New Paper
Categorised in The New Paper.