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MEN IN WHITE (Singapore)


  Publicity Stills of "Men In White"
Courtesy of Shaw




Horror / Comedy
Director: Kelvin Tong
Starring: Shaun Chen, Ling Lee, David Aw, Xavier Teo, Ben Yeung, Alice Lim, Benjamin Heng, Laurence Wong
RunTime: 88 mins
Released By: Shaw and InnoForm Media
Rating: PG
Official Website: www.meninwhite.com.sg

Opening Day: 6 June 2007


Being a human in Singapore is tough.
Being a ghost is even tougher.
And five ordinary Singaporeans are about to find that out.

A rollicking horror-comedy from top Singapore horror film director Kelvin Tong, Men In White takes on the scary from a completely new and hilarious angle.

Revolving around five cowardly and clueless Singaporean ghosts – a badminton player (Shaun Chen), a gangster girl (Ling Lee), a housewife (Alice Lim) and two hip-hop rappers (Ben Yeung & Xavier Teo), Men In White tells of their misadventures as they stumble through the bizarre rules of ghost-hood.

Trouble arrives in the form of a photographer ghost (David Aw) who joins out motley crew of undead and instigates them to wreak havoc on unsuspecting humans. The living fights back and our ghosts find themselves on the run and embarking unwittingly on a hilarious quest to strike fear into hearts of Singaporeans - a tribe more afraid of losing, failing and breaking rules than ghosts.

Movie Review:

Writer-director Kelvin Tong’s previous feature, “Love Story” was a calculated pastiche of surrealist energy and artful imagery, which really sounds more interesting than it actually was. The general consensus that followed was a mixed bag, but one that agreed the film was too big for its breeches and possibly much too niche even for the most willing patron. Tong’s newest venture almost stands as a scornful swipe against his critics in its intended commercial viabilities, by exorcising the ghosts of his last film into a horror-comedy, “Men in White”. But what this new film symbolises is a subversion of the ideals he once admirably tried (though unsuccessfully) to posit in our cinema halls with “Love Story”.

Now, both films as they stand are at the opposite ends of each other’s styles and forms and you just can’t help feeling that there has to be a personal stake involved, or perhaps even a filmic reflection of his boldness when Tong recedes back to a genre that is, by and large freed from the weighty mantle of respectability. Especially one that is also presented with the derisive temptation to head recklessly down to the gutters in search of the lowest common denominator. With that temptation given heed to, the film’s descent into a trashy, sloppy horror-rom-com is quite remarkable in its rapid loss of focus. At the very least, “Men in White” will have left a mark as possibly one of Singapore’s most reprehensible films to date.

It is promise gone rotten. Tong’s seems to have abandoned his structure and train of thought immediately after presenting to us his first creative flourishes of wit. He sets the stage for a dynamic, potentially perceptive mockumentary shot from the viewpoint of a quintet of ghosts commentating on the daily minutiae of life in our island city that recalls Colin Goh’s seminal “TalkingCock the Movie”, while not being brazenly emulative.

Tong’s most ingratiatingly energetic film loses the raw magnetism of its opening reel and quickly plunges itself into infantile toilet humour, culturally arrogant jokes that prey on inherent prejudices and a massive perversion of stereotypes that could either be construed as narrow-minded recidivism or a striking satire on the country’s attitudes towards homosexuals that leave audiences squirming in their seats. I sincerely wanted it to be the latter.

As structurally sound as an out-house, “Men in White” has a barely tenable story that threads together uninspired vignettes of music-video kinesis and quicksilver shifts in tone that lays contrivances atop invective shards of contempt. The reductiveness of “Men in White” carries with it certain disappointment that is made all the more aggravating when local films have started to carry a sense of eloquence in exploring new conventions, something that Kelvin Tong used to show with every one of his past films.

Movie Rating:

(A dire, insulting film that purports to be a comedy)

Review by Justin Deimen

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