Sunday, February 10, 2008

Review of "Ah Long Pte Ltd"

I got to know Jack Neo (梁智强) when I was serving NS. Back then, his Chinese name was 梁智强. Will ("志") could not be compared with Wisdom ("智") in current society, and indeed after he changed his name, he was no longer just "Two Rifles" (两支枪, a moniker he used to go by). The new name propelled him from comedian to hosting and finally to directing. Later on he was also conferred the title of PBM by the Singapore government as I was.

This is an era of creativity. You must know how to live with the times, keep to your objectives, and survive at the same time, which is not easy at all! Director Neo's capability to shine throughout his two decades of entertainment career does not come easy.

It is already difficult to be in the creative line in Singapore, much less to continually re-invent. Recently, the government is aggressively promoting the arts and culture scene, leading it to blossom and become more competitive at the same time.

I like challenges and breakthroughs, but I am getting on in years and seniority, so I can no longer be like when I was young and charge ahead without a care. Now I need to cover all aspects carefully, so it becomes a stumbling block. I wish to maintain my influence but dare not be boldly creative; I wish to boost my reputation but I need to moderate. In the past, there were only 4 mouths to feed at home, but now I have to feed many. This is the so-called burden of development and success, acronym "price to pay"!

From "Money No Enough", "I Not Stupid", "Home Run" to "The Best Bet", all these are inspirations from life and the common man's concerns that make excellent movie material. But movie making is also about technicalities and visuals, making "Just Follow Law" feel and look encumbered, so although the box office results were good, there was less applause and more criticism. Ah Long Pte Ltd followed up on the problems that were highlighted in "Just Follow Law", with the same dose of humour and tear-jerkers, but what message do we bring home? After all, few people have brushes with the loan sharks, unlike "I Not Stupid" which could reach out and touch many. As such, many friends criticize this film from a by-stander's perspective and not as a been-there and done it all.

"Money No Enough" is just an exclamation mark, not a reason nor an excuse. Hope Director Neo can reinvent himself, find some good topics, scriptwriters, storylines, and investors. Then he can ascend the stairway of success.

50 year-olds find it difficult to forget the past and face the future. My friend, take it in your stride!

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