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12 LOTUS (Singapore)

  Publicity Stills of
"12 Lotus
(Courtesy of GV)

Genre: Drama/Romance/Musical
Director: Royston Tan
Cast: Qi Yu Wu, Mindee Ong, Liu Ling Ling, Li Bao En, Huang Yi Liang, Hao Hao
RunTime: 2 hrs 1 min
Released By: MediaCorp Raintree Pictures, Scorpio East Pictures, Infinite Frameworks and Golden Village Pictures
Rating: PG

Opening Day: 14 August 2008


12 LOTUS tells a story of a talented singer Lian Hua, yearns for acceptance from those she loves, that they see her for who she is, beneath the bling of stage costumes, snappy footwork and the sizeable income she rakes in.

The tragedy that unfolds is an age-worn tale of love and betrayal. Her fall from grace is as spectacular and breathtaking as her heights of fame and fortune. Despite a heartbreak that is too much to bear, Lian Hua's indomitable spirit prevails. Her voice soars one final time, and like a flower that blooms, it dazzles us, humbles us.

Movie Review:

This movie has music. This movie has melancholy. This story has magic. And above all, this movie has all the melodrama you need.

Possibly Singapore’s answer to Baz Luhrmann’s musical melodrama Moulin Rouge! (2001), the Lion City’s bad boy director Roystan Tan has followed up from last year’s phenomenal “getai” hit 881 with yet another musical extravaganza boasting of colorful costumes, energetic numbers, soaring vocals (in Hokkien, no less), massive sets and a sappy storyline that wants you to shed some tears.

In true melodramatic fashion, we have our female protagonist who aspires to be a “getai” singer when she grows up so that she can perform the tragic song “12 Lotus”, which is made up of 12 verses chronicling a girl’s heartrending life. And to have you whip out those tissue packs, the plot develops and has life imitating art - our heroine meets with misfortune after misfortune, her fragile heart breaking every single time. Will she get to live happily ever after?

Tan reunites 881’s Mindee Ong to play the young heroine, and Liu Ling Ling to play her older self. The increasingly popular Qi Yu Wu plays the man whom the heroine falls in love with. There are also the much talked about cameos by local songbird Stefanie Sun and celebrity hairstylist David Gan. Quite a star studded cast we have here, don’t we?

That is the perfect distraction for a somewhat meandering storyline which plays itself out over the film’s 121 minutes. While the second half of the movie which features a deranged Liu is chirpier, there isn’t really much of a surprise here, because you already know the heroine’s doomed finale 10 minutes into the movie. But you’d continue watching because of Tan’s visually appealing shots and charmingly written dialogue. With most of them spoken in Hokkien, you can be sure this would be a hit with both the young and old.

Also, you can expect show stopping numbers where Ong and Qi dance and gasp, lip synch, to popular Hokkien “getai” tunes. The marvelous choreography and art direction makes up for everything here. When it comers to performance, Liu is the real star here. Watch out for her gravitating show tunes – be it a sorrowfully heartbreaking song or an energetically catchy melody, the veteran “getai” performer commands your attention with her screen presence.

It is evidently clear where the movie’s production budget of $1.5 million went to. The stylish cinematography, the slick choreography, the polished post production and the detailed set design are a visual feast. This is probably the filmmaker’s most accessible cinematic extravaganza yet. Although it does not leave much room for imagination, we are sure our local audiences wouldn’t mind, given the countless exhilarating musical numbers. The movie would probably travel to foreign lands too, with its glitteringly graceful package.

But is this Tan’s best work yet? It depends on whether you are a fan of his art house films or commercially viable movies. No matter what, local box office success is definitely guaranteed.

Movie Rating:

(An accessible musical extravaganza that will appeal to fans of melodrama)

Review by John Li


. Money No Enough 2 (2008)

. 881 (2007)

. Just Follow Law (2007)

. I Not Stupid 2 (2006)

. 4:30 (2006)



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