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Starring: Kim Young Jun, Xiao Li Yuan
Director: Royston Tan
Rating: PG
Year Made: 2006


- Teaser Trailer
- Theatrical Trailer
- The Making Of
- Photo Gallery




Languages: English/Mandarin
Subtitles: Chinese & English
Aspect Ratio: 4x3 Letterbox
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0
Running Time: 1 hr 28 mins
Region Code: 3
Distributor: InnoForm Media



Xiao Wu's existence revolves around school, an empty apartment and the dubious comforts in instant noodles. One day, his routine is subtly transformed by a tenant in the apartment who is nursing a heartache. Their paths cross only once in a while. Longing for human contact Xiao Wu tries all he can to make a connection through physical and metaphorical walls in that hour between night and day.


4:30 is a mood piece because we see the protagonists go through their freaky life, shot in well-composed long takes, with a conspicuous lack of dialogue. They like to do weird stuff like picking body hair, peeing in the bathtub, self-mutilating and disturbing public order: by and large doing things that normal people don’t do, not even when they are traumatized by a crazy alarm clock that rings at 4:30 am every morning.

For a local mood piece though, there are three pre-requisites: firstly, you must have a very arty nostalgic feel. Dirty grimy toilet walls, kinky wallpaper and retro phones are a must. No one shall stay in your typical colourful freshly-painted HDB four-room flat. A really old-school clinic façade and aged secondary school is a bonus. The ability of the 11 year-old protagonist to recite retro movie dialogues line for line and hold a Theresa Teng tune is a heaven-sent. Secondly, the protagonist must have an obsession. The sillier, the better. 4:30 has Xiao Wu, quite bizarrely, repeatedly disturbing a congregation of senior citizen qi-gong enthusiasts. Lastly, the protagonists must be urban-alienated. No two ways about it. They are suicidal (try hanging yourself on a bamboo stick with nylon string), don’t have friends, don’t have family and they cannot sleep. No wonder last I heard, there is a local film school teaching students such stuff. By the way, having a plot is optional.

Back to the story at hand. 4:30 is the story of two tortured souls colliding at the namesake witching hour. For the first part of the movie, we are treated to chunky semi-comedic scenes that painted Xiao Wu as a very lonesome youth and his co-tenant Jung as a suicidal love-sick Korean drama-mama stereotype. Xiao Wu sees Jung as the absent father-figure in his world and is obsessed with finding out more about him. There is also an undercurrent of homoerotic tension in the movie as well, probably due to the fact that the protagonists are both skinny vulnerable people in singlets and short shorts. The film only managed to pick up its emotional gravitas 40 minutes into the show where in a memorable scene, Xiao Wu began to cry sitting next to a fish tank. Ah, the wonders of the heart-wrenching score by Vichaya Vatanasapt. Then the dams broke. Xiao Wu and Jung began crying all the time. Misery reigns in the little household.

4:30 is a tad pretentious and over-wrought, but it is a solid movie and preferable to any of Jack Neo's. It may even be a good show if it has a storyline.


There is a 32-second teaser, a trailer, a MTV of the centerpiece score, a photo gallery and a making of documentary. Shot in Mandarin, it is a great look at how local filmmakers and production folks work their asses off behind the scenes. We understand that Xiao Li Yuan is really a normal human being like us and not some wunderkind crying machine. I loved the way he interacted with Royston Tan too.


The audio is in Dolby Digital and works just fine with the ambient sound prevalent in the movie. We can choose between Chinese or English subtitles but the visual transfer is nothing to shout about.



Review by Lim Mun Pong


Alternative Opinion:

. The movie review by our columnist

More about Director Royston Tan:

. From Local to Global

. Kopi With Royston

Other titles from Innoform:

. My Name Is Fame

. Letter

. Born to Fight

. Lizard Woman

. Chai-Lai Angels

. Helen the Baby Fox

. Love Asia

. The Commitment

. The Story of X-Circle

. Beautiful, Wonderful, Perfect

. Hit Man


This review is made possible with the kind support from InnoForm


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