DIRECTOR: GLEN GOEI
COUNTRY: SINGAPORE 1998
CINEMATOGRAPHY: BRIAN J. BREHENY
MUSIC: GUY GROSS
CAST: Adrian Pang, Medaline Tan, Pierre Png, Anna Belle Francis, Steven Lim, Wesley Wong, Alaric Tay, Dominic Pace, Caleb Goh, Pam Oei
SUPER FEATURES: Nice pastiche and fun all the way through
Seen at the 22nd Portland International Film Festival
The opening of this film states what it is really about. Singapore's official language is English, official utensil is the chopstick, and the official dance is the disco?
It's the mid seventies in Singapore, and the youngsters are trying to find their way in this culture on their own. The one thing that is vastly clear
is that western culture has had a serious effect on it, and that Saturday Night Fever did not escape. The only unfortunate thing about this film is
that the same critics that panned the original will also pan this film as boring and full of it. These same critics probably have no clue as to how
much influence American films have the world over, and how so many people take on those ideas and personalities as a way to grow into their own, probably as a sign of revolt against the past and its old ways that still has a hold on things.
Ah Hock's hero is Bruce Lee and he has all the moves down pat and spares no moment to practice them, even at work. His group of friends has other ideas and takes to the dancing clubs for fun, and eventually Hock joins them, only to find a brand new obsession. The disco rage is on, and it catches him. And here he finds a chance to gain something so that he can acquire the money he would like to have to be able to come up with his dream, a motorcycle that is way beyond his means and wages. with his childhood sweetheart he starts dancing and appears to be learning very well, clumsily at first, but then full blast. Eventually it leads him into the competition that will be providing a nice prize which would allow him to acquire the motorcycle he wants. But competition is fierce and there is one person that is in the way and is making things difficult for him. He has befriended another girl who just happens to be the girl friend of the hood that drives the MG and makes life difficult for anyone in his way. Hock loses his job on account of this guy.
But all is not lost. While practicing the dance, he spends the rest of his time seeing the movie so he can study the moves, and comes to meet the Tony in it, that comes out of the screen to give him advise on life, love and of course dance.
With the new girl, he gets to the dance competition, but not before he has to suffer one indignity. He is beat up by the hoods, friends of the bad guy. He manages to win the dance with the girl, and on the way out he is again encountered by the same hoods, and this time Hock takes on the Bruce Lee character and teaches them a lesson. He leaves and finally gets to talk to his sweetheart and make things get back on track. In the end caption, the film says that they went to Norway, danced in another competition and then won the prize that allowed him to buy the motorbike of his dreams and take his sweetheart on the trip that he had promised.
This is not a great film, but it is a lot of fun to sit through. The dancing is very good, and the fun added to the routines are very enjoyable and make for a film that is a lot of fun to sit through, even if nowadays we think that disco stunk and is dead. In other places it was not dead, and was a very important scene, one that had much more meaning than anyone in America could ever conceive. Here, these things are just another trend. When it dies it is over. In other places, it is the justification and the impetus for social change, and this film does not spare us this point. Hock's brother, is having a personality crisis, and he finally admits to the whole family what he wants. None of this could have happened in a society that had no western inspirations or had no idea that the world out there is very different from the old line that still lives. Their parents are shocked and the situation is dangerous. And the brother eventually pays the price. Hock, escapes these things, probably because his dream is not so drastic, or much more difficult to achieve. Leslie's dream is dangerous in any way that he can look at.
A fun film to sit through, that has plenty of laughs all the way through. The stuff with Tony coming alive to talk to him is the same stuff that we
love to see in movies, and this time it is important, and meaningful to the society that this is, and is becoming since the English have left.
With some very enjoyable acting, and well defined characters, the film is in English, and is very difficult to follow sometimes because they all speak so fast, but one rarely needs to worry about it, since one knows what is going on. Few films can do that well. This one makes the grade, even if it is a bit of a fantasy. But rest assured, from a foreigner, that much of this is not a fantasy. America just rarely looks at any other culture for inspiration or learning. If they only knew how others look at it, if they only knew ....
Fun film about what may have been to grow up in Singapore in the 70's after the English left.
4 of 5 GIBLOONS
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