Rating: 4 out of 5
Here’s a little disclaimer before we begin, Kidnapper was co-written by one of my colleagues here at inSing.com, fellow movie reviewer Ken Kwek.
When I was assigned to this, I was thrilled because I was really looking forward to the movie, and then I realised how awkward it would be if I had to trash it in a review.
Thankfully I was spared that and now I’m faced with another dilemma: How I adequately express how much I loved Kidnapper without sounding at all biased?
I’m not a huge fan of local cinema, although I’ve seen a lot of it. If you had told me a year ago that someone would have eventually make a tense, gripping and not just decent but brilliant local action-thriller, I would have rolled my eyes and told you to dream on.
Kelvin Tong was just that previously hypothetical someone who did that and restored my faith in Singaporean productions along the way.
I knew Tong’s reputation going into the screening but I honestly didn’t expect Kidnapper to be as dark as it was. Kidnapper bravely goes to places that I never thought a local movie could or would ever dare to go to, and I’m not talking about gore here. I’m talking about the type of psychological drama that truly depicts the gravely afflictive nature of utter desperation.
In this case it’s the paternal desperation of a father, Ah Huat (Christopher Lee), trying to get his mistakenly kidnapped son back (Jerald Tan). The ransom dictated by kidnapper (Jack Lim) is a hefty million dollars, something that Ah Huat, a cab driver, is quite unable to attain in years, let alone within the 36 hour timeframe enforced upon him.
The story then becomes a taut race-against-time challenge for Ah Huat as he goes to insane (but understandable) lengths to raise the money by any means necessary. And we do mean by any means necessary, morally ambiguous or not.
Not only does Tong put Ah Huat (and the audience) through the emotional wringer, the action/suspense quotient in this equation was expertly done as well.
The pacing in this movie is so breakneck and so relentless that I was exhausted by the time the credits rolled. That’s a pretty good indicator that an action-thriller is actually thrilling, because your heart is racing the entire time.
Kidnapper felt like the first (and best) season of 24 compressed into two hours. Kidnapper even borrows 24’s beat-the-clock style and child-kidnapped story – minus the presidential assassination angle. It’s all done in a local context and it’s fabulous.
The chase and action sequences are incredibly inventive (loved the trap at the Singapore Flyer), wisely relying on clever set-pieces rather than wham-bang explosions. This entire movie could be a lesson to filmmakers everywhere that suspenseful action can be done with a modest budget.
About Hidzir Junaini
Hidzir Junaini, aka inSing.com's Movie Lover, is 23-years-old and a wealthy playboy billionaire by day and a caped crusader by night. Only one of those is true. He’s actually a freelance writer, blogger, full-time film buff and some-time socially awkward nerd. He also writes about music, restaurants and nightlife for Metrowize Asia.
Hidzir is the winner of the inaugural inSing Movie Lover contest that garnered over 1,000 participants. The Movie Lover contest is a search for a candidate who possesses outstanding passion for movies and a talent for writing engaging movie reviews.