Two young lovers are caught in the tangle of an inter-family feud. The subject that sparked it off is none other than chicken rice. Both families have been in the chicken rice business for ...
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Two young lovers are caught in the tangle of an inter-family feud. The subject that sparked it off is none other than chicken rice. Both families have been in the chicken rice business for the last two decades which is how far the rivalry spans. It is in the midst of bitter rivalry, close friends and chicken rice that love begins to blossom. Written by
L.H. Wong <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Romantic comedy that hits a home run on the comedy and strikes out on the romance.
From the tiny Southeast Asian island of Singapore comes a charming little romantic comedy, written and directed by Cheah Chee Kong, who also goes by "Cheek". The results are mixed, as the comedy part carries the film, but the romance is quite tepid and entirely unconvincing. The film is loosely based on "Romeo & Juliet", where two families who have chicken-rice hawker stands (that's a Singaporean neighborhood food stand) are violently feuding over customers and whose chicken rice is best. One child from each of the two families is preparing for their starring roles in a school production of the Shakespeare tragedy, and life soon imitates art when romantic feelings develop between the two.
The best parts of the movie are the often very creative scenes shot at the hawker stand with a smorgasbord of interesting characters providing life and color to the surroundings. It is in these scenes that one gets a real sense for the charm of Singaporean culture and the Singaporean people. From there we shift to scenes at the school, where the play is being rehearsed. The main problems with this aspect of the plot is that the female character Audrey, played exaggeratedly by Lum May Yee, is such a nasty girl that there is no way to understand why Fenson, played competently by Pierre Png, is so head over heels in love with her. The director tries (and fails) to convince us that the bond is based on a mutual love for Shakespeare, but the only credible explanation is based on superficial things like her looks and her cocky attitude. Similarly, the director tries to have us believe that the Fenson character is an awkward and unattractive nerd when in fact he is the most physically attractive person in the whole film. It's not his fault that he is good-looking, but he seems miscast in the role as a result. Early on in the film he has a stuttering problem (which might explain why he is a social outcast) but about 30 minutes into it, it miraculously disappears.
One other aspect of the film that I found a bit disappointing was the treatment of a seemingly gay character. Leon, the best friend of Fenson (played very well by Kevin Murphy), drops several clues that make it painfully obvious to observers that he is carrying with him this personal secret. For some strange and completely inexplicable reason the writer decided to resolve this issue by making him out to be a crazed stalker of an MTV VJ. Perhaps this was supposed to be humourous, but it only came off as senseless and homophobic and consistent with Singaporean stereotypes that it is an intolerant society to homosexuality. This is a shame.
These criticisms aside, I did enjoy "Chicken Rice War", and I think there is plenty in the film to appreciate. The best characters come from the supporting cast, especially the "warriors" from each family. Gary Yuen, Catherine Sng, Jonathan Lim, Zalina Abd. Hamid, Jo Jo Struys & Teh Su Ching provided some of the most memorable performances.
The movie starts out better than it finishes, but the characters involved in the actual "war" are just too hilarious to pass up. (7 out of 10).
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