Sunday 14 March 2010

What if Jack Neo made Phua Chu Kang movie?

How can I not talk about Jack Neo?

I had a couple of encounters with Singapore’s most famous adulterer in the ’90s when I was working at then Television Corporation of Singapore. Fortunately, he didn’t hit on me, although he might have wanted to hit me.

That was when I was working with him on a skit for a charity show and he was annoyed that I kept mispronouncing “Liang Xi Mei” as “Liang Si Mei”.

Sorry, my China not so powderful.

Ironically, even though I haven’t spoken to him since then, I never felt his presence more than when I was working on the Phua Chu Kang movie recently. The movie is set to be released later this year.

When I was first approached to do the script last August, my brief was to write in at least one “touching” moment and a social message – like in Jack’s movies. He is, after all, the country's most successful filmmaker.

About half the dialogue in the movie should be a mix of Singlish, Mandarin and/or other Chinese dialects.

I figured Hokkien was best since the dialect was practically the raison d’être of Jack’s movies – and like him or hate him, his movies made money.

When Mark Lee was unavailable to play the villain in the PCK movie because he was busy with his own movie, Henry Thia was cast to replace him. Both are, of course, members of Jack’s J Team.

So is the director of the PCK movie, Boris Boo, a long-time Jack Neo acolyte who has written scripts for him for years, including the movies I Do I Do and Love Matters. Boris’ only previous directorial credit was for a segment in Jack’s Where Got Ghost?

During my script meeting with Boris, he would cite what Jack wouldn’t allow in his movies. (I didn’t ask Boris if Jack ever hit on him.)

This is about as close as you can get to a Jack Neo movie without actually having Jack involved. And what’s wrong with that? His movies made money.

Even in casual conversations during the filming of the PCK movie in KL, Jack’s name came up often.

Gurmit Singh (who plays PCK) would complain about the last-minute script changes when he was acting for Jack in Just Follow Law, despite having received a Golden Horse best actor nomination for that movie.

But I didn't hear any mention of Jack being a “buaya”. Before the scandal broke a week ago, he seemed almost asexual.

All that mattered was his movies made money, which was enough to cover a multitude of sins.

Until now.

- Published in The New Paper, 14 March 2010

UPDATE: I’m scared to watch PCK movie because it may kill me