Director: Kelvin Sng
Cast: Christopher Lee, Li Nan Xing, Mark Lee, Vivian Lai, Xavier Ong, Jazliyana Lee
Runtime: 1 hr 39 mins
Rating: PG (Some Sexual References)
Released By: mm2 Entertainment and Shaw
Opening Day: 26 January 2017
Synopsis: A comedy about a fortune god intern sent to do good on Earth. His eagerness to get promoted to a true fortune god leads him to Soh Hock, who works in his brother-in-law, Hao Xing's traditional Chinese bakery. Hao Xing loves his sister but despises Soh Hock, as Soh Hock has been plotting to sell his secret recipe to pay off gambling debts. Soh Hock's wish comes true though mind control; an ability granted by our mischievous fortune god, who has been granting everyone wishes wilfully without a care, causing pain and suffering. That’s until Heaven steps in to prevent a catastrophe.
You don’t need this reviewer to tell you that Chinese New Year movies are cash grabbers. This year, we are fortunate enough to have a long weekend in Singapore to celebrate the festivities, and what better way to spend time between binging on pineapple tarts, bak kwa and kuehs in the cinemas?
You also don’t need this reviewer to tell you that Chinese New Year movies made in Singapore are the best opportunities for sponsors to throw in product placements – some more hilarious than others. Before the screening of this local fare, this reviewer attempted to count the number of sponsor logos on the movie poster. Let’s just say, there were… many.
With that came the mental preparation that there will be countless mentions of brands or appearances of products in this 99 minute movie.
Directed by Kelvin Sng (Taxi! Taxi!), the movie’s protagonists are a hardworking bakery owner (Li Nanxing), his good for nothing brother in law (Christopher Lee), and an intern God of Fortune (Mark Lee). The latter is a serial gambler who is drowning in debt. He wishes to pawn off the bakery’s secret recipe to save himself. Enter the intern God of Fortune who hopes to get promoted by granting people’s wishes. What is a Chinese New Year movie without things going exaggeratedly chaotic and comedic catastrophes happening?
The marketing angle of this movie is how the filmmakers have gathered three Lees in local showbiz. The three lead actors have great chemistry between them, with Christopher being the most entertaining as a vain man who loves his hairspray. Mark does his usual job of cracking jokes while Nanxing exudes suaveness despite evidently aged. Elsewhere, there are familiar faces like Vivian Lai and Nathan Hartono (in an unnecessary but amusing cameo role) and newcomers like Xavier Ong and Jazliyana Lee.
While the cast members look like they had a lot of fun filming this movie, viewers may not find all gags funny and end up wondering why the characters are laughing a lot more than the audiences. Considering the movie was filmed in 20 days, the production values mean that this comedy can easily pass off as a TV movie.
How can we forget the product placements? If you haven’t already noticed, the stars attached to this project also happens to be brand ambassadors for certain products like bak kwa and green tea. Hence, you can expect these food items to be conveniently incorporated into the storyline.
But hey, it’s the Chinese New Year and you probably aren’t expecting anything more, are you? You can say it’s a uniquely Singaporean feature of local commercial productions, but we are pretty sure there is a group of viewers out there who do not approve of this.
One thing for sure, this is a feel good and light hearted comedy that doesn’t make you feel burdened with heavy themes. The formula seems simple enough these days – put together a few renowned household names, then throw in subject matters which Singaporeans have interest in: food, family, work and ahem, in this case, gambling.
(You weren’t expecting more from a Chinese New Year movie made in Singapore, were you?)
Review by John Li