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Money Enough, So Breakthrough “Money No Enough 2” Created

31 Jul

SINGAPORE : A decade ago, with not that much money, Jack Neo went from a TV funny man who dressed up as an old lady, to create Singapore’s top grossing local film, “Money No Enough”.

As other film successes followed, the Cultural Medallion award winner is a film-maker who may just strike it rich again with the sequel “Money No Enough 2” despite little change to his movie making formula.

The winning formula is due in part to his two long time buddies, Mark Lee and Henry Thia, who along with Neo play the role of brothers facing different financial struggles in contemporary Singapore.

Meeting the funny men, it seemed clear that it couldn’t have been too difficult for the three, who seem like brothers in real life, to get into character!

As they teased and took digs at each other, I couldn’t help but feel at times that I was just a mere spectator at a larger than life family gathering.

Getting serious, Neo revealed that their latest project together was upsized with a S$1.5 million budget, his largest movie budget ever.

This allowed Neo to experiment more freely with special effects in the movie but rest assured that what drew the crowds, the ordinary Singaporean’s heart and struggles, remains core in the movie.

While there will be a good dose of laughter, just like life, there will also be some tears although it is totally unintentional says the film-maker/actor.

“Actually, I have never especially tried to make people cry,” said Neo, “Whenever I film a movie, I always use my heart to understand what’s going on. In real life, there are a lot of these (moving) issues (that are explored in the movie).”

What is different in “Money No Enough 2” besides a bigger budget, is Neo’s commitment to making new grounds once again.

For starters, the movie touches on several sensitive topics but survives the censorship board unscathed.

In terms of stars, look out for a guest appearance by Member of Parliament, Michael Palmer, TV actress Vivian Lai and half of the singing Ming Zhu Sisters, Zhu Ling Ling, all starring in their first big screen roles.

It’s a gutsy move by Neo, who is feeling the pressure of having to live up to the previous instalment’s performance at the box-offices.

“Of course (there’s stress),” said Neo almost immediately when the question of stress popped up.

“When the first instalment was released, people weren’t prepared for the socio-commentary that was being thrown their way. So whatever was shown, they would’ve been happy.

“But now, with the second instalment, people start having expectations. The biggest challenge would be for people to go in with an open mind” offered Neo.

Trying to lighten the stress, Lee showed his mathematical acumen by adding that the inevitable stress also comes from trying to match dollar to dollar, the previous S$5.8 million performance.

“Let’s analyse it this way, if the box office sales this time round are also S$5.8 million, it would mean that fewer people are coming to watch the movie. In the past, movie tickets cost S$5.50 or S$6.50. Tickets nowadays cost S$9.50, S$10!”

Although scheduled for release on July 31, there’s already been a huge volume of pre-sales, meaning Neo and the cast of “Money No Enough 2” are well on their way to breaking their own record… without too much stress.

– CNA/os

Channel News Asia

For Jack Neo, Money Is Finally Enough

2 May

SINGAPORE – Ten years ago, “money no enough”. Now, for Jack Neo, Singapore also “no enough”.

That’s because the 2005 Cultural Medallion winner and Singapore’s most commercially successful director has his sights set on conquering the region and perhaps the world.

“My films can travel well. In fact, come this June, I Not Stupid is opening in theatres all across China. Not just television, but cinemas! And Ah Long Pte Ltd is officially the highest-grossing Singapore film in Malaysia, making over RM4.3 million ($1.8 million),” said the 48-year-old multi-hyphenate, who has been lauded as Singapore’s hardest-working actor-director-scriptwriter.

Speaking to Today on Tuesday at the 10th anniversary celebration of Money No Enough, which has just been re-released in cinemas, the man who Raintree Pictures’ managing director Daniel Yun said “helped define a Singapore film and, indirectly, the Singapore film industry” shared that it was all about heart.

“Making films with heart sets us apart from the foreign films and I believe that I know how to make films that will do well abroad,” Neo said.

Quite remarkably, Money No Enough is still Singapore’s biggest box-office hit, in terms of local films, with an unsurpassed $5.8 million. Neo’s box-office successes over the last decade have not only proven that made-in-Singapore films can be commercially viable, but also that he is a film-maker with his ear close to the ground and a heart that relates to the typical Singaporean.

Which is why he feels that it’s time to embark on the next phase: To find Singapore’s next generation of directors and scriptwriters and strengthen the talent pool in our growing film industry.

Called Jack Neo’s Movie Director and Scriptwriter Search, this Media Development Authority (MDA) supported programme is looking to select 12 aspiring film-makers who will undergo a six-month apprenticeship course, work-shopping with some of the industry’s best movie directors and scriptwriters.

The big prize at the end of it all? A chance to direct a movie with Jack Neo.

Seems like a lot on a plate for an immensely busy man who has made 11 films in the last 10 years. He will be releasing yet another, Money No Enough 2, this August.

Said Philip Wu, managing director of Neo Studios: “Jack is passionate about sharing his experience with a new generation of movie directors and scriptwriters. Our industry needs to harness as much talent as possible to grow to the next level.

“This is especially important since Neo Studios has established a $10-million Raffles China Media fund with support from various partners and the MDA. We hope to find more local creative talent to work with us to address new market opportunities in China and the region.”

Looks like now, money is definitely enough. –

Channel News Asia

Caldecott Royalty Does The Fann-Cy Talk

6 Feb

SINGAPORE: Oh yes, Fann Wong is definitely in the mood for love. “I want that rose! It’s beautiful!” she gushed with excitement.

Then, she added coyly: “Valentine’s Day is coming … ”

Take a hint, Chris. And get your cheque book out.

The rose that has captured the heart of the Princess of MediaCorp is no ordinary flower – it’s really a painting titled Life Like Flower No 1 by renown Chinese artist Feng Zhen Jie, and it costs a whopping S$400,000.

“I’d like to receive that on Valentine’s Day. If not, then never mind,” said the actress, mock sniffing, before breaking into faux evil laughter.

It was 9.45 on a Monday morning when Fann met TODAY for this interview, and she was early. She had, in fact, been up since 5am to prep for her interview on Channel News-Asia’s Prime Time Morning, and it was to be a busy, busy day ahead – more promotional work for her latest movie, Jack Neo’s Ah Long Pte Ltd, followed by rehearsals for MediaCorp TV Channel 8’s Chinese New Year countdown show.

Yet, the actress, who just turned 37 two weekends ago, looked fresh as dew, and not a year older than 30. She looked a million bucks – even with minimal make-up – in a flirty white bareback Loewe dress under a matching white leather jacket.

Clearly in high spirits, Fann was uncharacteristically – for a superstar – candid and open, yakking and joking away without reservation.

“As long as the questions are not too personal, I’m okay with it,” she said, flashing her charming megawatt smile.

We took the opportunity to venture into personal waters and asked her why she seems much more open about her relationship with her actor beau Christopher Lee these days, and she teased: “I’ll kiss him back this year (at the Star Awards)!”

We pushed our luck a little further and asked her what her boyfriend thought of her “fanny-baring” scene in Ah Long Pte Ltd (for which she didn’t think it was “necessary to use my body”, so what you’ll be seeing is her butt double).

She volunteered impishly: “I wanted to pull his leg and tell him that it is going to be my butt just to test his reaction … and to see if he’d recognise that it’s not really my butt.”

My oh my. This is not the kind of talk we were expecting from the notoriously private Caldecott royalty who has starred in Hollywood movies alongside international celebrities like Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson and Maggie Q. But who’s complaining?

Behind that glamorous facade, Fann proved to be a goodie-bag full of surprises. We even found out that she sneaks into local cinemas to watch the occasional movie.

“I do! I just go. I don’t care,” she said.

You just celebrated your 37th birthday two weekends ago. Are you feeling the pressure of growing old in an industry that’s constantly thirsty for youthful beauty?

Is it my 37th? I’ve lost count! Age hasn’t bothered me since I turned 21, when I was really happy. I enjoy being where I am now.

I mean, you don’t want be in your 20s forever. I’d be very afraid if I had to keep doing the same things I did in my 20s. You grow older, you get to know yourself better and you become more confident. And I think it’s wonderful to have young people coming onboard the entertainment scene. New blood is a good boost for a small industry like ours.

So you don’t feel threatened by the so-called “Seven Princesses” of MediaCorp (Fiona Xie, Felicia Chin, Joanne Peh, Jeanette Aw, Rui En, Jesseca Liu and Dawn Yeoh) nipping at your Christian Louboutins?

I look at it very positively. You need a new face to represent every era. Yeah, I think every one of (the princesses) stands a very good chance.

I’m just very lucky as I happened to be in right place at the right time, meeting the right people. So, just three words of advice: ‘Hard work’ and ‘luck’.

Do you see yourself “stepping down” and retiring soon?

Being the free spirit I am, I think I’ll quit as and when there are no more fun and challenging roles left for me to play. Or, when I feel that there is something else that needs me to focus on, I’ll move on. It could happen tomorrow. Much as I love what I do, you never know ῅ passion can go out in a split second giving way to another.

Like family and motherhood, perhaps?

Maybe! I don’t know! Of course I’d like to have children. Ideally, if I can afford it, I would like to have enough children to form a football team!

But at the moment, time just doesn’t allow it. So, I’ll let nature take its course. I think I have ample time before I should start worrying.

As someone who can probably have anything you want, what is one thing you can’t have right now?

That’s not true! I can’t have that beautiful painting by Feng Zhen Jie (Life Like Flower No 1). It costs S$400,000! There’s nothing else I want.

Okay, seriously, I believe in being contented with what you have and being grateful … But I still want that art piece! I am going to steal it! –

Channel News Asia

The Boys Of Jack Neo’s ‘I Not Stupid’ Are All Grown Up

25 Jan

They may play juvenile delinquents in Jack Neo’s new film I Not Stupid Too, but in real life, Joshua Ang and Shawn Lee are nothing like their characters.

Those who watched 2002’s I Not Stupid would remember the two as part of a group of three primary school students struggling with their studies in the EM3 stream.

Four years later, the boys are all grown up. In I Not Stupid Too, which opens in cinemas on Thursday, the two are the so-called “bad apples” of their secondary school class, struggling with both their studies and uncaring parents.

Judging by Joshua’s appearance at the press conference last week to promote the film, the 17-year-old is too cool for school. One can only imagine what his teachers at his alma mater, Pasir Ris Secondary School, would say about his blonde streaked hair and get up of loose shirt and baggy jeans.

While in the film, Joshua plays the rebellious Cheng Cai, who is kicked out of school for beating up a teacher, things are very different in reality.

He said the most rebellious thing he has done was running away from home and refusing to pick up his mother’s calls. But he admitted with a laugh: “I’m a good boy, actually”.

After being talent-spotted by Jack Neo and cast in I Not Stupid, both Joshua and Shawn acted in Neo’s Homerun in 2003.

That year, Joshua landed a role as Albert in the MediaCorp TV Channel 8 show Comedy Nite, which may have been one of the reasons more than 1,000 teenage girls auditioned for a role opposite him.

He shyly admitted to occasionally receiving letters or contact numbers scribbled on pieces of paper by female schoolmates.

“I will usually go through the letters but will not reply because I don’t know what to say.”

No less popular is Joshua’s co-star Shawn, who plays the lonely Tom. In the film, Tom falls into bad company because of parental neglect. Those who remember Shawn from the first film may be surprised at how much the formerly diminutive boy – he was the smallest among the three friends – has grown.

“My friends sometimes don’t like going out with me because they are uncomfortable with people recognising me in public,” he said.

“Tom is jealous over his parents showering more attention on his younger brother but at home, I am the youngest so I have more than enough attention from my parents.”

Currently preparing for his O levels, the chatty Bukit Panjang Government High student said: “After being exposed to the acting and the media, I think I can now cope better with pressures at school.” –

Channel News Asia