Set against Singapore's very own colourful backdrop of seventh
month Getai, the film tells the story of two girls with a
dream to be Getai singers.? Little Papaya and Big Papaya grow
up idolising Chen Jin Lang, the King of Hokkien Getai. Through
perseverance, hard work and support from their friend, Guan
Yin, and their mentor, Aunt Ling, the Papaya Sisters become
the most popular sister act in town.
always something magical about Royston Tan’s musicals.
from his shorts Hock Hiap Leong which created so such entertaining
cha cha cha buzz for a coffee shop facing it’s closure
to the rebellious “CUT” which is undeniably a
different class of talent from the recent MDA’s rap
video clip. There this energetic humorous vibe to his films
that would effortlessly sweep the viewers under his musical’s
now, there’s 881 which made $3.5 millions in Singapore
Box office which had once again charmed me and probably gotten
many uncles and aunties into a cinema for the first time.
Tan mention before that one of his goal in making 881 was
to introduce the “Getai” (Song Stage) to the younger
generation and by my books, he had achieved that goal. From
someone who normally avoids the Hokkien (a Chinese dialect)
music, drama or any other performances, it was an eye opening
experience to the homegrown entertainment culture (probably
a uniquely Singapore’s event which don’t get promote
enough) that made me want to pop by for one of the “Getai”
performance during the seventh month ghost festival.
also helped a Non-Hokkien speaking person like me to understand
the lyrics of Hokkien songs and appreciate the beauty in the
sorrowful lyrics that represent the poor and the unfortunate,
especially in the lower class demographic.
intentional or not, the tragic element in 881 was overly dramatic
and in certain ways, it felt that it was forcefully going
for the audience’s tear ducts. Because of that, the
story felt like a series of sad moments that were unevenly
pasted together just for the eventual climatic finale.
there are rough patchy patchworks of story telling and overly
dramatic tragic events, there are many others things that
were great for 881. First of all, the cast of Mindee Ong,
Yeo Yann Yann, Qi Yu Wu and Liu Ling Ling were excellent in
their respective roles. As one who don’t really follow
the local Chinese television series, Qi Yu Wu’s stoic
yet thoughtful performance as Kuan Ying and Mindee Ong’s
fragile yet determine performance as the small papaya sister
make one take a second look at the local stable of television
Yeo Yann Yann is fast becoming a credible actress in Singapore
movie scenes. Ever since her strong performance in Singapore
Dreaming, it seems that she is popping out in various media
around Singapore such as award winning short films (Ah Ma)
and now she continues building a credible resume with her
role as the big papaya sister in 881.
last but not least, Liu Ling Ling’s bigger than life
persona is infectious both on her big screen performance and
in private life (as seen in her extra segment in this dvd).
Comedy seems to run in her blood and her bubbly personality
is simply entertaining that makes watching 881 enjoyable.
2007, it’s unlikely that any local movie would match
up with 881 in terms of entertainment and with that, 881 is
my vote for the best Singapore movie of 2007.
First and foremost, English subtitles played a big
part for me to enjoy 881 and it disappointing to report that
the extra section of the 881 Dvd comes with no English subtitles
to aide the Hokkien illiterate.
Making of - This standard type of “making
off” segment covers interviews with the Cast, Director
and various personal that were involved in making 881.One
of the interesting anecdote here was when Royston Tan sharing
with us the Qi Yiwu’s hardworking attitude towards to
his character. Another would be Getai’s princess Karen
sharing with us on the funny episode that Royston Tan revealed
to her while following her to get a feel of performing in
Getai. This making of also shared the various difficulties
that the production faced, such as the demolition of their
set due to stormy weathers and the numerous changes in costume
and songs during the filming of the final Getai battle
A Day in the Life of Liu Ling Ling - In this
short segment, the costar of 881, Liu Ling Ling takes the
viewers on a trip to the actual Getai scene in Singapore while
revealing some of the secrets of the Getai. She shared with
us the uncertainties of being a MC in Getai, the joys of meeting
up with new adoring fans of Getai due to the movie 881. It
also had some candid chat with a Getai performer, audience
and band member that gave more insights to the Getai’s
Deleted scenes - If there’s any nitpicking
with the deleted scenes segment, it would definitely be the
lack of indication on what the scene was about and why was
it deleted. Some of the deleted scenes are shown in muted
mode as it probably hasn’t gone through the final editing
stage. There also an alternate intro scene when the first
few judges of the papaya sisters were introduced with the
One of the Scenes that stood out was Scene 23. It gave a funny
explanation on why there a need to draw a line around the
ghost festival burn offering and the parallelism it has with
the yellow box for smokers.
Another scene that I felt shouldn’t have been left out
was the Girls in Car scene. It features the Papaya sisters
rushing from one stage to another and it really demonstrates
the hectic lifestyle of the Getai.
Here lies the biggest disappointment in the 881 extra features.
On one hand, they provide songs performed in 881 in their
own selectable segments. That allows the viewers to relieve
the musical pieces without going thru the whole movie but
sadly, there not English subtitles to help the Hokkien illiterate
to understand what the song about. Guess it’s back square
one as there’s really no way enjoy those music videos
segments unless it’s watched in the movie with English
other criticism that my friend pointed out was that once the
song is picked, it will continue down the list of songs. Personally
I don’t see that as a problem but my friend pointed
out that he would have prefer to choose the song that he prefer
and after the song is done, it would be preferable that it
returns back to the songs titles page.
disc’s audio and visual transfer is wonderfully crisp
There English, Cantonese and Mandarin 5.1 Dolby Digital audio
tracks to choose from.
by Richard Lim Jr