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  Publicity Stills of
"Kallang Roar"
(Courtesy of Shaw)

Director: Cheng Ding An
Cast: Lim Kay Siu, Santhanaram Jayaram (Ram), Leon Quah Hsun Chuen, Randall Tan, Anwar Hadi Bin Ramli, Melvinder Kanth, Bhaskar Subramanian
RunTime: 1 hr 28 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: PG
Official Website: www.thekallangroarmovie.com


Opening Day: 21 August 2008


Battling the onslaught of a life threatening stage of diabetics, an entire board of unsupportive officials ready to oust him, a record of 12 years of Malaysian football supremacy, Uncle Choo defiantly returns to Singapore football scene in 1977 for one last short at restoring Nationalistic pride.

Uncle Choo was one unorthodox gem of a coach, regimental, courageous, determined and very imposing. He was bold, quietly confident: always believing that he and his nurtured team can accomplish milestone though with limited resources in every department. His undying love for the game and his role as a coach whom, few will would ever understand.

Armed with legendary players like Quah Kim Song, Rajagopal, Samad, Mat Noh, Dollah Kassim, uncle sets out an impossible journey to remind his fellow countrymen of what it meant to be Singaporean.

This is a tale about sheer grit, unbreakable will and his deep passion, unyielding struggle with society and oneself, to finally achieve glory for one’s nation through football and coined one legacy unwittingly, known to all as ‘The Kallang Roar’ which is of nothing to himself at the end of it.

Movie Review (A):

Cheng Ding An's attempt to paint a cinematic portrayal of Singapore football's glory days of the 70s met with several budget and production challenges but ultimately, the payoff is undeniable. To see a local film effort celebrating arguably the most popular sport in the nation is something particularly appealing especially football fans. Sadly, if the film was to be graded in terms of overall quality, it would resemble more of the Singapore team of today. The results are always somewhere there but somehow, something major - a defining spirit - is missing. Set in the 70s “Kallang Roar” feels like a soul-less portrayal that just fails to replicate the true spirit of Singapore football's glory days.

From the start, its important to get a few points straight for rabid football fans. The film is entirely based in the 1960s (briefly) and then the 1970s, so unless you are a well read Singapore fan who revels in stories from your parents, the youth of today probably will not feel particularly connected to the film. “Kallang Roar” also uses no footage of real matches. The film entirely depends on football seemingly played by the actors themselves, so you'll see Randall Tan dribbling as Mat Noh (somewhat abysmally) and disappointingly CG-ed scenes of Edmund Wee saving queer shots in front of goal.

For a film to revolve around the excitement of football action and the Cup winning effort of 1977, there has to be football action. Not just football action, but real, quality football action. “Goal” did an excellent job, giving lead character Kuno Becker proper skills training and shooting excellent, in game footage featuring actual stars as well as lookalikes, merged with real footage from actual games. This despite “Goal” being an imaginary story, albeit featuring real teams. “Kallang Roar” is a dramatically presented documentary, which made it even more critical to feature authentic footage. The unfortunate lack of real footage left me sitting almost anxiously at the edge of my seat waiting for real footage right to the disappointing end. The re-enacted football, meanwhile, though brave in terms of effort, bordered on the embarrassing.

For all accounts and purposes, “Kallang Roar” seemed like a dream cobbled together crippled by a large degree of expediency. The lack of footage meant the team's entire season was presented by fleeting CG footage of flashing newspaper headlines of results, right up to until the semi-finals. By then, the soul of the film is decidedly empty. Couldn't some effort be made to locate at least some of the remaining, living former stars to make a cameo appearance? Even the use of someone like V. Sundramoorthy, however irrelevant, would have done much to save the movie.

Lim Kay Siu, arguably the less prominent of the Lim brothers, does well in a film that required him to carry it solely with his performance - just as Kay Tong did admirably in “Perth”. Despite occasional lapses into a tendency to over dramatise in certain scenes, Kay Siu grasped the strong-headed, idealistic and never say die spirit of the late Uncle Choo Seng Quee really well.

Kay Siu, however, was surrounded by a decidedly wooden portrayal of N Ganesan and a strangely dramatic and unjustifiably mean board director who keeps trying to keep Uncle Choo from the job because he lacks "qualifications" (When he has coached Malaysia and Indonesia into champions prior).The acting by the cast was on the whole earnest but not up to mark. The only positive moment was an excellent jibe, through Trevor Hartley's character, at how Singapore always fails to trust and depend on local talent, instead sometimes blindly finding security in foreign "talent". Leon Quah, the son of legend Quah Kim Song, was sadly disappointing in an entirely dead and uninspiring rendition of his father, though its not fault of his.

“Kallang Roar” is let down no doubt by circumstances resulting from budget and production difficulties. The bright sparks of the film where technical, where the editing colorist did a brilliant job and recreating the look and the feel of the 70s and some of the close up scenes of the pitch action close up were shot in slo-mo wonderfully, it’s a wonder why so little of it was used. Instead, we saw lots of slo-mo dribbling from the likes of Randall Tan and an embarrassing portrayal of Crazy Horse Nasir Jalil that almost made a mockery of history's legacy.

It pains me to say that most of the thrill came from the sounds of the crowd cheering, due to the excellent sound we find in the cinemas. “Kallang Roar” is not short of effort and in fact showed great vision in making use of the great potential the subject matter has as a film. If we could get an excellent cast, real stars to participate, actual footage and proper support from all personnel relevant to the story, then perhaps we can do a “Kallang Roar” movie that can reach the heights the way Jack Neo's Money No Enough franchise has shattered all expectations of local film-making.

Until then, watch “Kallang Roar” only to support the dream of one day seeing our own great football film and to dream of Singapore being in the World Cup. It is hard, however, to justify perhaps even a 6 dollar ticket.

Movie Rating:

(Why was this film entirely in English? I only felt the 1970s through the visual editing colour)

Review by Daniel Lim

Movie Review (B):

Disclaimer: This reviewer is not a fan of soccer and was briefly interested in the Malaysia Cup when Singapore won their last cup. He had heard of the famous soccer players such as Quah Kim Song but wasn’t aware of their exploits or what they had done exactly.

Let’s get the detractions of this film out of the way first. We had been spoiled by what high end special effects could offer by the big players from Hollywood and by that standard, what Kallang Roar could offer was rather amateurish. There were also moments that I wondered why this film didn’t use old actual footage for those highlights in the classic matches that were presented here. The actors performing those goals scoring and other emotional sporting moments look sluggish and slow compared to actual matches I had seen. Lastly, there are blatant moments where I felt that the movie is going straight for our tears ducts, especially when this film tries to drum up the protagonist, Uncle Choo’s passion.

But that’s not what Kallang Roar is about.

Personally, Kallang Roar is about one man’s love for his country even when he is faced with discrimination from his own country. What made it even more heart wrenching is that it’s based on a real person and events (even if it’s dramatized to a degree).

Uncle Choo, a soccer coach that’s appreciated and sought after in both the Malaysian and Indonesia states but was not allowed to coach in his own country. He was rejected by petty ego, lack of paper qualification (a familiar issue even till now) and the absurd constant worshiping of foreign talents (another familiar aspect in Singapore isn’t it?).

Now most people, who would have given up, quit the local scene and strive for betterment elsewhere but that’s not what happened. Nothing will deter Uncle Choo’s sense of patriotism and passion to bring glory to local soccer. He persisted, grooms a group of soccer players on his own, and waited to be call up for coaching duties in midst of his own medical problems.

With a strong performance by Lim Kay Siu, Uncle Choo’s past achievements and tribulations hit an arousing home run for Singapore patriotism. It made me proud to know that someone had stood against adversity from both external and internal factors so that we could win something by our very own effort. An inspiring tribute in believing one self especially in these times when our authorities favor and promote help from foreign talents.

Even though I was sold by the Uncle Choo’s segment in Kallang Roar, there were other bits that kept me at the edge of my seats. Ironically it was those slow and sluggish reenactment of those key moments in the Malaysian cup competition. The actors did a fine job in portraying their characters that allowed me to grow with them and even though the soccer competition scenes were not well choreographed like movies such as GOAL, it has that realistic excitement to it since it was based an actual recreation of moments that had transpired.

With the actors and director at helm, I got to know what was the term such as “crazy horse” in the past local soccer context. It was also awe inspiring to learn more about Quah Kim Song’s goal scoring diving headers through his son Leon Quah and the existence of the fame one shot banana kick by the Rajagopal, the best player of the team. They might not be well known for their acting abilities but in my book, they did a creditable job in bringing our past heroes back to life on the big screen. At the end of the climatic finale, I almost stood up to cheer for the soccer heroes like it was back in the 1977s and personally, very few films could do that.

In a culture that is being progressively program to put foreign talents high up on the pedestal, it was inspiring to see a movie that pays tributes to the past achievement of our very own countrymen. Although Kallang Roar had to suffer with the budget constrain of an independent film and a few directorial debut missteps, the heart of the message that Kallang Roar is trying to tell should be undeniable and commended.

Movie Rating:

(Kallang Roar redefines and reminds us what the Singapore Pride truly is)

Review by Richard Lim Jr


. Rocky Balbao (2007)

. Goal 2: Living the Dream (2007)

. Gridiron Gang (2006)

. Goal! (2005)

. Coach Carter (2005)

. The Games of Their Lives (2005)

. We Are Marshall DVD (2006)


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