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.
Channel News Asia