In the wake of the Chinese New Year holidays — a mere sweet, food-filled memory now — with the March school holidays beckoning, three local filmmakers are bringing movie goers a trio of films starring popular artistes Fann Wong, her husband Christopher Lee, and funnyman Mark Lee, among others.
The films encompass the genres of comedy, drama as well as psychological thriller, and represent the latest output from veteran filmmaker Jack Neo, the increasingly more established Kelvin Tong, and a debut work by first-time feature director Harry Yap.
Here’s a quick, at-a-glace guide at what the three films are about and whether you should buy a ticket to watch them:
Happy Go Lucky
First Take: Opens 4 March. Leading local artiste Fann Wong stars as a kind-hearted young lady who is under-appreciated by her gambling-addict father (Richard Low) and petty step-sister (Patricia Mok). The story of her trying to persuade her family members to turn over a new leaf, while working hard as a foot masseuse to make ends meet, sounds like the stuff of television serials.
The Good: Mok, a truly funny individual who deserves better roles, has her moments as the ‘bad’ sister.
The Bad: The curious style of unrealistic acting and limp script obstruct any suspension of disbelief, and prevent the audience from rooting from the protagonist.
inSing.com says: This is a disappointing first-time effort from director Harry Yap. It sticks to a tried-and-tested formula that is glaringly inadequate on the big screen.
First Take: Opens 4 March. Longtime Jack Neo collaborator and funnyman Mark Lee are at it again. The latter stars as an unscrupulous slimming centre boss who will stop at nothing to make a buck, with Yeo Yann Yann playing his unable-to-conceive wife, who believes their baby blues are karmic in nature. Mark can be very funny and Yeo have proven to be a dependable actress; the question is whether director Neo’s script is compelling enough.
The Good: Neo has decided to help Lee abandon his ‘ah beng’ drama persona, and make his character, who is plagued by his conscience embodied by Taiwanese TV host NoNo, more complex and serious. Yeo is excellent as the wife, while local TV host Jeremy Chan does admirably as the comic relief.
The Bad: Some might consider some of the liberties taken by Neo, in bending cinematic conventions, excessive. Some dramatic moments also border on the extreme.
inSing.com says: A change in approach by Neo is apparent for how engaging his characters here are, and the smoothness of the storytelling, for all the trademark bells and whistles. This is arguably the best Jack Neo movie in recent years and it shows courage and risk-taking appetite by the veteran filmmaker.
First Take: Opens 18 March. Christopher Lee, like his wife Fann Wong in Happy Go Lucky, unglams himself for his latest role. He plays a taxi driver who unwittingly gets caught up in a cat-and-mouse thrill ride with a kidnapper. In a case of mistaken identity, his son is abducted and Lee’s character has to stump up $1 million in ransom money. Film has potential to position Lee as a dramatic heavyweight.
The Good: The plot, from a script written by director Kelvin Tong and screenwriter/playwright Ken Kwek of The Blue Mansion fame, isn’t bad. It’s like Ransom amid HDB blocks, industrial estates and downtown attractions.
The Bad: The film is hampered by underwhelming acting and incredible dramatic turns. The father-son ‘good guys’ aren’t established enough for audiences to get to know and root for.
inSing.com says: While Tong did an admirable job of tackling the horror genre with The Maid, and deserves kudos for now attempting a psychological thriller, the end result doesn’t quite satisfy.