Genre: Police procedural
Cast: Liu Kai-chi, Dominic Lam, Lawrence Chou, Joman Chiang, Leila Tong
The Borderline has the advantage of being the first HKTV series to air, so there is a sense of freshness to it all. The first, most obvious difference is the cinematography. Using real location settings, everything appears darker and this might be a turn-off for some people. But take a few episodes to adjust and it shouldn't be a big deal anymore. Or start watching The Election and suddenly you will appreciate the lighting in The Borderline.
The next thing to notice are the fresh faces, or at least some actors who haven't been on the television scene for a while. It was nice to see a different set of people for a change and not just the same casts rehashed from series to series. Long-time TVB fans can also play "I Spy" and see how many former TVB artists they can spot.
Police dramas have been done again and again, but The Borderline successfully mixes familiar aspects to create a thriller. The plot is like an endless rollar coaster with many surprising twists and turns. New pieces are constantly being introduced to change the direction of the mystery and keep up the suspense. There are complex, multi-dimensional characters which add to the unpredictability of the series. Moreover, the series maintained a good, fast pace. Since it didn't have to meet a 20-episode minimum, it took only the exact number of episodes that it needed, thus eliminating useless characters and side plots.
Of course, the series is not without its flaws. Where it falters is that the story included some common plot devices from TVB. For example, the story of Leila Tong and her mother was too convenient and put in as a tear-jerker. Both the split personality disorder and evil twin ideas have been used before and the scriptwriters did not even choose the better one for the ending. The police are still made to look incompetent and are never able to catch a criminal by themselves.
The series makes frequent use of flashbacks, as way to explain things that have occurred or are occurring. However, there were instances where the criss-crossing between flashbacks was overused, making it difficult to follow and breaking the momentum for a particular scene.
On the acting side, Liu Kai-chi and Dominic Lam were the best, with explosive performances that pushed the intensity of the series. Leila Tong was funny as a clueless policewoman. The scenes of her nervously holding a gun are well done. Joman Chiang is okay as a madam, but she was awkward when interacting as a couple with Lawrence Chou. The weakest link was probably Lawrence Chou, who was stiff and slurs when saying his dialogue. The supporting casts, like Philip Keung, Deno Cheung and Wu Kwing Lung (the bombmaker), did their jobs well and created distinct personalities for their characters.