If you’re a Singaporean or a Malaysian, you’ll most likely have seen at least one Jack Neo movie. It is so influential that once, a Malaysian told me that she knows everything about Singapore through his movies. Usually, his movies are released during Chinese New Year, and now that CNY is around the corner, what better way to celebrate it than watch his movies on DVD again? With so many choices, I’ve listed down my top 5 Jack Neo movies (movies that he either directed or acted in) so that you’ll know what to play in your DVD player as your relatives visit your house!
5. Just Follow Law (2007) 我在政府部门的日子
Singapore is well-known to be efficient, but many foreigners might not know this: that efficiency comes with a price. Working in the public sector is a walk in a battlefield: people backstab each other every single day, long working hours are common and of course, everything goes by the book (or, in our lingo, “law by law”). This movie reflects how the work culture in Singapore is like, and unfortunately, it’s not an exaggeration.
Best scene: When a medium is trying to explain the price differences in two packages, he said in KFC-inspired English sentence: “Want upsize?”
4. Ah Long Pte Ltd (2008) 老师嫁老大
Mark Lee takes the cake in this movie about loan sharks. His accent is so truly Malaysian (he’s a Singaporean, FYI!) that anyone who doesn’t know him would think that he grew up in Malaysia. Do you know that before Ah Boys to Men, this film held the record for the biggest opening for a local production? 几够力一下~
Best scene: When the “restructured” loan shark pressured a guy to repay his loan with a song—a song by…erm, forget it. Just go watch it.
3. Liang Po Po: The Movie (1998) 梁婆婆重出江湖
Old man like me knew Liang Po Po through Comedy Night, a weekly primetime variety show in Channel 8. She (or he) was then the local Mr Bean, luring everyone in Singapore to stay at home during Monday nights just to laugh at her antics. And when her movie was out, we all, without hesitation, just bought the tickets. Comedy Night’s Liang Po Po was good; Liang Po Po: The Movie was God.
Best scene: When a newfound friend gave Liang Po Po his contact number: 8817 9829. Doesn’t get the joke yet? Ask your friends. It’s about a father who wants to go to a pub for a drink.
2. Money no Enough (1998) 钱不够用
If you still don’t know how influential this is, then read this: This movie singlehandedly revived the Singaporean film industry. It showed Singaporeans that movies can be made to make money, and not just for art’s sake. In other words, Singapore movies can be J. J. Abrams movies. It’s so good and popular that despite its grammatically unaccepted title, we’re still using that phrase: “Eh, Bro, I money no enough leh.”
Best scene: “Uncle, you got siao bo?”— everyone now uses this phrase whenever someone does something silly. In case you’ve not realized, it’s THAT influential.
1. Ah Boys to Men (2012) 新兵正传
I might not be impartial here since I can relate very closely to this movie, but hey: isn’t Jack Neo’s movies’ unique selling point relatability? If so, this works just too well. Every single thing there just reminded me of the time when I wore green for my BMT (Basic Military Training). It’s really that realistic. For those of you who are wondering whether our instructors really speak English in camp: yes, they do. They only use Hokkien when they need to describe some reproductive organs.
Best scene: When a soldier went crazy trying to look for something, only to realize he was looking for his pink IC. It’s an inside joke, but it’s just too funny.
All pictures from Wikipedia.
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