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KIDNAPPER (Singapore)


Genre: Crime/Thriller
Director: Kelvin Tong
Cast: Christopher Lee, Jack Lim, Phyllis Quek, Jerald Tan, Regene Lim
RunTime: 1 hr 38 mins
Released By: GV, Scorpio East Pictures and Mediacorp Raintree Pictures
Rating: PG
(Some Violence)
Official Website:

Opening Day: 18 March 2010


Lim, a struggling and obnoxious 40-year-old taxi-driver, is a complete failure. His wife left him years ago. And his only son – Wei Siang – is frequently neglected. Mistaken for a rich man’s son, Wei Siang is kidnapped at an arcade one day and held for an enormous ransom. Thus begins one father’s relentless quest to get his son back.

He gives up everything in his life to raise the ransom, only to discover that the nefarious kidnapper wants even more money. Unable to raise the second ransom, Lim descends into madness as grief and self-doubt overwhelms him. His own morals are threatened when he flirts with the dark side in a desperate attempt to get his son back.

Movie Review:

It is a scenario which can only happen in movies. And a movie which lasts for 98 minutes, for that matter. A taxi driver (in "Uniquely Singapore", or should we say "YourSingapore", nonetheless) gets involved in some rough scuffling when his son is mistakenly kidnapped. In his attempt to rescue the poor kid, he gets entangled in a web of drama which involves a rich old man with vocal problems, a younger woman with a past and a capped villain with no intention of making the taxi driver’s day easy.

Yes, this is a scenario which can only happen in movies. And probably melodrama is the best approach to make this screenplay work for the mainstream audience. Which is why local filmmaker Kelvin Tong chose to tell this story in a way that will increase the audience’s pulses and heighten their senses. Given the ex journalist’s credentials of making movies of very varied genres (The Maid, Men in White, Rule #1), it comes as no surprise that Tong has taken up this commercial thriller movie. And like his past works, he balances this one adequately well, delivering a product which will appeal to the common viewer without losing out on production values.

Given the probably commercial pressure that is put on Tong to deliver a sellable movie, familiar faces have been chosen to headline this picture financed by Singapore and Malaysia parties. Taking the role of the taxi driver is Christopher Lee, who lets you see how distressed a father he is by being unkempt and rough. The image of the MediaCorp artiste sporting strands of natural white hair and a whole chin of facial hair does make him bitter and resentful, which definitely helps to add depth to his character. Playing the son is child actor Jerald Tan, and who won’t empathise with a tortured kid whose blood becomes a form a ransom? Malaysian celebrity Jack Lim plays the titular kidnapper with the right amount of menace and cold blooded evilness to send chills down the more timid viewer. Phyllis Quek fills the role of a woman who is blackmailed by her ex boyfriend and forced to become his partner in crime to kidnap her own stepson. While she tries her best to emote in many of the movie’s crucial scenes, let’s just say she has quite a lot of room for improvement.

Tong has always been known for balancing the commercial and artistic aspects of his works (though we are still trying to figure how it all works out in the disastrous Men in White), and his latest movie proves that point too. From the sleek cinematography and the action packed score to the fast paced editing and edgy colour treatment of the picture, it is evident that the filmmaker has given enough thought to make it look tense and overwrought. The locations in the movie would connect to local viewers because of their familiarity – coffee shops, shopping malls, gaming centres, dilapidated HDB flats, and the Singapore Flyer – altogether now, say "YourSingapore"!

Tong has also injected some forms symbolism to make viewers think about the underlying motivation of the characters. To the pickier viewer, this move may come across as contrived and trying, but to be fair, it serves as an appropriate arch to bring the story forward. However, the melodramatic nature of this thriller may get on your nerves quite a bit, with its overbearing diegetic music ringing in your ears every other minute.

At the end of the day, your senses may be shaken by this pompous production, but as the serene finale fades to the end credits, you also wonder what it is really that you have taken away from this movie.

Movie Rating:

(An overly melodramatic production which will, if nothing else, shake your senses)

Review by John Li


. Rule #1 (2008)

. The Maid (2005)

. 1942 DVD (2005)


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