"Acting is the ability to live truthfully under imaginary circumstances." -- Sanford Meisner


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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

In Cold Blood Season 3 Episode 8

Mediacorp Channel 5 
10 pm, 7th October 2013.
In this episode, someone is going to die during the familiar HDB Residents' party. It is based on a true story, so watch it and see if you can figure out Whodunnit!!!!  

The plot unravels the surprising intensity inside the petty minds of some volunteers and RC members that leads to the tragedy; ironically amid their quest to serve and better the community.

This is one of the most enjoyable shoots I have done to date, with lots of laughter and twisted humour, particularly from our star, Henry Heng. :)  The happy chatters persisted via WhatsApp beyond the end of the shoot at 11pm... until I had to switch off the phone at midnight to catch up with some sleep.

For those who have missed the programme on TV, here it is:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Justice Devil - The Big Project

The Big Project is on to get the BIGini girl, as The New Paper likes to call her, back to shape - the healthy way! This is no anorexia, so Ris will continue to eat, and eat ... :)

Wearing my fitness trainer hat.

I didn't know that becoming a co-producer will require so much more, but now I do. The Project starts today.

We will be keeping tabs on her progress...  :)

"Justice Devil" is going through the Singapore Media Development Authority's (MDA) rating process now. We hope to launch it by the end of October 2013. We will keep you informed.

As of Singapore Time 0935H 23rd September 2013, our trailer has reached 120,363 hits since 4th September 2013. It increased exponentially since the media interviews. Our daily hits now is about 10,000 a day. So there must be something that we are doing right. :)

Also, thanks to your valuable feedback about the sound peaking in the trailer. We are aware of that and have corrected that in the movie per se. 

Thank you for making "Justice Devil" a devil of a hit!

For all "Justice Devil" posts, click here.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

American Dreams in China

"American Dreams in China", directed by Peter Chan, is about three young men who grew up yearning to make it to the US for the American dream during the post-Mao era when China was going through sweeping economic reforms. As it resulted, only one of them, Meng Xiaojun (played by Deng Chao), managed to pass the visa interviews and board the plane to America. Ironically, after facing many trials and tribulations in the States, Meng returns later to join the other two, who had remained, to make their 'American Dream' happen in China. 

The film depicts the lead characters' struggles between the old system of communist education and bureaucracy versus the free market economy which is creeping into China at a breathtaking pace in the 1980s. Together with the opening up of the Chinese economy came the need to speak English and embrace the free market as espoused by the flagship of America, the Chinese people's symbol of freedom and prosperity, at that time.

The story of "American Dreams in China" is the epitome of the determination and sacrifice of the Chinese people to achieve what they want when opportunities arise amid relative chaos with the arrival of the free market. The motivation of the Chinese students to learn English and to do well in the TOEFL examinations reminds me of my own days as a student seeking to study in the West in the early 1980s. Many of the accusations by the American academics surrounding their suspicions of Chinese students' cheating in exams, didn't surprise me a little bit. I have heard those prejudicial remarks and worse before, first hand. Watching it on screen still evoke some anger, but at the same time a delight that at last we have progressed and are able to beat the West in their education system and their brand of market economy.

The three main actors fleshed out their characters very well in the movie. Meng, as one who has been transformed in the US and is now back to teach his old buddies about the American Way.  His hard and harsh assertions clashing with the conservative Cheng Dongqing (played Huang Xiao Ming), thus testing the relationship of the trio who are as close as brothers. The disputes occasionally moderated by the Bohemian and carefree Wang Yang (played by Dong Dawei).

I would recommend anyone who wants to experience the story of the struggles of three good friends who go on  to build a business empire, to watch this film. 

I had the privilege to watch it during the special screening on the 10th September 2013, courtesy of Clover Films. Thank you. I love special screenings and galas, as they are occaions when happy people gathers to celebrate, and in this case, to celebrate an inspiring movie.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Justice Devil - Press Interviews

This is  press conference day with The New Paper, Yahoo! News and Razor TV.


Some clever answers...
Q: Do you have any regrets, given what happened in the past?
Ris: There is no time for regrets, just learn the lessons and move on in life.

And about her weight?
She said that it is more important to be healthy...
I think that is a good line and example for many young girls of today.

The New Paper clips:

For other posts about Justice Devil, click here.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Justice Devil - the Devil in the Detail

It is said that when a young film maker wants to make a feature film so badly but ain't got the money, he would set up ten characters in a room and have them graphically and violently killed one by one. Typically, it involves a mysterious psychopath wielding an axe or a terrifying instrument of death, hunting them down at a jinxed destination. Perverse as it may seem, such films sell well  to a ready audience with the insatiable appetite fuelling a series of such films, now called the "slasher genre". Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" (1960) is probably one such front runner, and more recently, we have "Friday the 13th" and "Nightmare on Elm Street".

"Justice Devil" is a slasher film and is probably the first locally made movie of such a kind in Malaysia and Singapore. Its young director Harvaraj has successfully put together script, people, money and distributors to have us all, cast, crew, and audience alike, momentarily transported into the dark world of betrayal, deceit, revenge, torture, violence, blood, gore and sex. No easy feat. Perhaps a genre that the more established producers/directors would not want to thread into risking too much to break into and pioneer.

The movie is about a young Ellen (played by Ris Low) seeking revenge after she  got herself mixed up with an organised drug cartel and lost her boyfriend and baby. But lest you assume the movie to be just a mindless pursuit of blood and gore, think again. I too thought of  it that way until I got a comment from a Ris Low fan  who said that he sees the movie as a manifestation of "Ris Low's Revenge". (Yes, she actually have fans to her name.) Then, a coin dropped in my head. It provoked me to dig deeper to discover that masked underneath the seemingly superficial violence of "Justice Devil" is indeed the life of Ris Low. The devil being in the details and spoken in hidden metaphors. So be fascinated that there is a lot more philosophy and cynicism in the story than it meets the eye. But like a parable, how much one reads into the story would depend on the depth of one's understanding of the symbolisms and metaphors. So everyone will walk away with a version of the story they are happy with.

Remember, the story is about Ellen (Ris Low) fighting back after her regretable foray into narcotics (her credit card fraud) and is now up against the drug cartel (the media mob) after having lost her baby (her beauty queen crown).  So most of us would have participated in the Ris Low story, either as news reporters, critics, and for my case, as an actor. I wonder what my character Mr White, the drug lord who has a soft spot for Ellen, represents in Ris' life. Does he represent her father? Or a tantalising piece of rope tempting and long enough to entangle herself in endless knots? I wonder.  Are you a fan, critic or follower of Ris? How are you represented in the movie? Amid the swings of the axe, the slashes and the screams, you may discover.

Ris certainly lives a colourful life as someone only in her early 20s. I sometimes forget that and have to look closer to remind myself that in this young woman, there also lives a soul, who just like anyone else, yearns to live a normal life. Ellen's boyfriend in the movie symbolises this aspect of Ris - to want to live a normal life, get married and have a family.

Soon in Theatres near you in Malaysia and Singapore.

For other posts about Justice Devil, click here.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Justice Devil

Yes, this is the film that stars Ms Ris Low as the lead character and one that is on many people's lips for the last two years as it manifests itself from conception to screening. Finally, this is it! It is coming to a cinema near you. The tabloid press loves Ris, as she is a source of  unceasing controversies to help them sell their papers. Everyone knows Ris Low!  There can be a lot said about that, but first, let's talk about the movie.

"Justice Devil" (formerly "Magnum") is set against a backdrop of betrayal, revenge, kidnap, sex, torture, blood and gore. The sort of escapism stressed out executives and the mundane in the heartlands alike would love to watch seeking breakouts from their daily predictable grinds. It will certainly go down well with repressed employees who secretly harbour fantasies about grinding an axe against their bosses! So go watch it and enjoy! See how Ris can once again rise up to surprise you! :)

However, as you sit back and cringe watching the gory details, you may be pleased to know that it is actually the actors that suffered the most in the making. There are tortures galore. Among which, I was tied up in a hot and small room with no windows, splattered with fake blood and mud. With the unbearable heat generated by the lights on set, I hyper-ventilated and actually nearly passed out. Harvaraj, the director, not knowing better (about my state), thought I did well and remarked that it was brilliant!

That said, I didn't get the worst. At least I didn't have my head dunked repeatedly into a bath tub of muddy waters with the threat of axes and chain saws, or having to perform the sex scenes. Yes believe me, it isn't quite the same bonking out in the open on set. It requires a lot more resilience and patience; and also having to out perform yourself with every new take!  Challenging stuff, trust me!  Thankfully, it was my colleagues that had to do all that and more! :)

In the night forest scenes, our bare upper torsos were a feast and feeding frenzy to the mosquitoes. It was a scene when we dragged ourselves across the long rocky roads on our bare feet running away from the murderous Ellen (Ris Low) with an axe. I mean, do you trust her with that?! Eventually, Mr White (me) wears out and goes down flat on his face, and then crawling. It was agony!  I had to crawl in semi-prone positions along a narrow path illuminated by two car headlights in a spot otherwise pitch dark. And so it was - bare knees and hands roughened repeatedly against the gravelly road as I bled for real. I lost count of how many times I did.  After that, I realised that I had pulled a nerve in my leg.  The pain persisted for a few more days after the shoot and I had to go to my acupuncturist to get it fixed. 

But there are the fun bits too! Eventually, we stopped the mozzie attacks by painting our bodies in mud, way better than mosquito repellent.  And though we did not get to meet the Leopard Prinz, the scenery in the forests and the oil palm estates were beautiful.

We were the highlight of the day whenever we move into small towns for location shooting. Then, the landlady will bring along her friends and neighbours to watch us in action and later engaged us in endless conversations. I never felt so much like a star in my life! :) Even the local police were amused. In all, they are lovely people. Simple folks heralding their welcome to their hometown. 

Shoots normally went a long 12 to 14 hours and we would end up with supper in Johor Bahru. That's when I witness with much amusement some of my younger colleagues struggling with the waiters, not having a clue how to speak with them in Malay - Singaporeans' very own National Language. :) Singapore is a strange place. It is an economic marvel with a warped and a reconstructed culture. In short, it is culturally confused! The pressured multi-system of systems, the diversity of cultures, languages and social decorums both confuse and bond us as one nation. 

For instance, we have an actor who does not speak or understand Mandarin, but went on to successfully utter his lines and perform. And performed well he did! He didn't have the fear of doing it at all! I am truly impressed till this day! It is from him, that I now no longer fear any language I have to perform in. I am so inspired by him that recently I took it up to act in the Thai language, which I do not know a word of.

If you have read till here, I guess you would be wondering, how it was like to work with Ris Low. Is it Boomz or Shingz?

Much have been said about Ris Low by the press, but she is not exactly what you see in those videos that went viral on the Net. She does has her oddities and showmanship no doubt, but so do many of us;. Certainly I do. Perhaps many others choose to hide their eccentricities, living their life under wraps masking their unique individualism instead. Ris, on the other hand, chooses to be herself and be different, arguably unaware that it may not go down well with the common people. She is not what many would consider 'normal', but then, what does it really mean being 'normal'?

Ris works hard. She is highly tolerant as she puts up with the physically miserable conditions that I believe many actresses will not last a few hours for. In fact, I find some of the locations barely acceptable myself. I wouldn't like to go into the gory details here, but trust me, they were nasty! Shingz! :) There are times when we all have to be very patient with her, as she turns out unexpectedly. I take my hats off Harvaraj, whom I think has exceptional patience and skills in communicating with her. Perhaps she has a "learning difference" from the norm. A different way of looking at the world, which is not necessarily a bad thing!

On the balance, it is still a joy to work with Ris. So, it is a BOOMZ! She is different! :) Hey, she even made it to the Wikipedia hall of fame! Have you? :) Click here.  She is unique and there is only one Ris Low...

....I hope! :)

Coming to a theatre near you in Malaysia and Singapore.
Stop Press:

The movie is going through MDA rating at the moment. Premiere will be delayed for a few weeks.We will keep you informed of the new launch date which will likely be at the end of November 2013.


Read about the devil in the detail! Click here.

For other posts about Justice Devil, click here.