Forever Fever

(Singlish and Hokkien dialogue)

Hock ..... Adrian Pang Mei ..... Medaline Tan Julie ..... Anna Belle Francis Richard ..... Pierre Png Boon ..... Steven Lim Leslie/Beng ..... Caleb Goh Bobby ..... Westley Wong Seng ..... Alaric Tay "John Travolta" ..... Dominic Tace Mrs. Lim ..... Koh Chieng-mun Mui ..... Pam Oei Father ..... Lim Kay-siu Mother ..... Margaret Chan Transvestite/ Dance Instructor/MC ..... Kumar

(Singlish and Hokkien dialogue)

Singapore’s reviving pic industry looks to strut confidently offshore with “Forever Fever,” a cheeky and thoroughly engaging riff on “Saturday Night Fever” that even manages to wear some smart subtext beneath its tight pants. Well-mounted and exceptionally well-cast movie will ring beaucoup bells with auds familiar with the island republic’s unique cultural mix, but should also prove accessible to more general viewers in the West, where its camp feel won’t hurt it one bit. Fest platforming followed by sharp marketing should lead to warm returns in selected boites.

Pic was snapped up by Australian sales agent Beyond Films just prior to Cannes, where market screenings generated sales to Miramax and others. Though the S$ 1.5 million ($ 880,000) budget came from local sources, the behind-camera roster features many Australians, including “Priscilla” lenser Brian Breheny, and the final sound mix was done Down Under.

This is the first feature of actor Glen Goei (pronounced “Gwee”), who most notably played in a U.K. production of “M. Butterfly.” The magic of Goei’s movie is that it combines solid production values and an unflashy shooting style with lively subject matter and a flavorsome script. Though most of the dialogue is in the local patois of “Singlish,” it’s easily comprehensible and redubbing would rob the picture of much of its color and humor.

Set in 1977, some 12 years into independence and on the cusp of the island’s ruthless modernization, straight-arrow story centers on supermarket worker Hock (Adrian Pang), an easygoing slob whose main aim in life is to buy an expensive Triumph motorbike. Permanently on the edge of being fired, Hock lives at home in a simple Chinatown apartment with his traditional parents, a sister (Pam Oei) who’s obsessed by romantic novels and a studious younger brother (Caleb Goh) who’s the apple of his father’s eye.

Hock decides to take dance lessons and enter a disco competition with a S$ 5, 000 prize after being inspired by a movie called “Forever Fever,” whose Travolta look-alike star (Dominic Tace) steps out of the screen to encourage Hock directly. Our flatfooted hero is further encouraged by childhood girlfriend Mei (Medaline Tan), who’s secretly in love with him and accompanies him to the lessons.

Hock, however, develops the hots for fellow entrant Julie (Anna Belle Francis , a local DJ), much to the chagrin of her slick b.f. (Pierre Png). Things aren’t going much better at home: To his father’s astonishment, Hock’s brother has calmly announced he’s getting a sex-change operation.

Pic doesn’t pretend to pull any plot surprises as it edges toward the disco-dancing climax, but writer-director Goei skillfully juggles his rich array of characters. While Pang’s terrific perf powers the film, all of the supports get their moments in the sun, enriching the pic’s broad, multigenerational portrait of a society still finding its feet and identity among a multitude of influences, both Asian and Western.

Noteworthy are Tan, Francis, Oei and Lim Kay-siu as the father. As the sexually transient brother, Goh handles a difficult role — alternately sent up and sympathized with by Goei’s script — with some skill. Film’s camp undercurrent is further emphasized by the presence of local drag artist Kumar in several small roles.

Considering the budget and the difficulty of finding period locations in modern Singapore, production design is resourceful and largely convincing, despite occasional lapses like modern cars visible in the background and contempo products on shelves. Breheny’s lensing is richly colored without becoming a style statement, and other tech credits, especially editing and costumes, are pro.

Surprisingly, pic has done only OK biz since opening locally May 21: around S $ 500,000, way below the boffo S$ 5 million-plus so far clocked up by another local production, the runaway comichit “Money No Enough.”

Forever Fever


Production: A Shaw Organisation (in Singapore)/Miramax (in U.S.) release of a Tiger Tiger Prods. production, in association with Chinarunn Pictures. (International sales: Beyond Films, Sydney.) Produced by Glen Goei, Jeffrey Chiang, Tan Chih-chong. Directed, written by Glen Goei.

Crew: Camera (color), Brian Breheny; editor, Jane Moran; music, Guy Gross; production designer, Laurence Eastwood; art director, Andy Heng; costume designer, Ashley Aeria; sound (Dolby Digital), David Lee, Paul Pirola; choreographer, Zaki Ahmad; assistant director, Gloria Chee. Reviewed at Choa Chu Kang Cineplex 1, Singapore, July 19, 1998. Running time: 93 MIN.

With: Hock ..... Adrian Pang Mei ..... Medaline Tan Julie ..... Anna Belle Francis Richard ..... Pierre Png Boon ..... Steven Lim Leslie/Beng ..... Caleb Goh Bobby ..... Westley Wong Seng ..... Alaric Tay "John Travolta" ..... Dominic Tace Mrs. Lim ..... Koh Chieng-mun Mui ..... Pam Oei Father ..... Lim Kay-siu Mother ..... Margaret Chan Transvestite/ Dance Instructor/MC ..... Kumar

More Film

  • 'Self-Portrait With Boy' in Development at

    'Self-Portrait With Boy' in Development at Topic Studios

    Topic Studios (“Leave No Trace”) has bought rights to Rachel Lyon’s debut novel “Self-Portrait With Boy” and plans to develop the project as a feature film. Lyon will adapt her own novel. John Lyons (“Boogie Nights”), who recently signed a first-look deal with Topic Studios, has come on board to produce. The story is set [...]

  • Ventana Sur Animation Panel Focuses On

    Ricardo Cortes Vera Talks Audience-Driven Content at Ventana Sur

    BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Ricardo Cortes Vera, commissioning editor for Señal Colombia, introduced the audience-driven children’s content his company is renowned for in hopes of encouraging a crowd of animators into submitting their own work to the channel. He did so in a keynote address given Tuesday afternoon in Buenos Aires, at the Animation! strand [...]

  • Films by Francois Ozon, Fatih Akin

    Berlin Film Festival: New Films by Francois Ozon, Fatih Akin, Denis Cote in Competition

    New films by Francois Ozon, Fatih Akin and Denis Cote are among the titles that will compete for the Golden Bear at the upcoming Berlin Film Festival. German director Akin’s “Der Goldene Handschuh” (“The Golden Glove”) and French helmer Ozon’s “Grâce à dieu” (“By the Grace of God”) were announced by the Berlinale in its [...]

  • Picture Tree Sells Berlin Competition Film

    Picture Tree Sells Berlin Competition Title 'The Ground Beneath My Feet'

    Picture Tree Intl. is on board as the sales agent for “The Ground Beneath My Feet” (Der Boden Unter Den Füssen), which the Berlin Film Festival revealed Thursday will be in its main competition section. The Austrian drama, directed by Marie Kreutzer, stars Valerie Pachner, Mavie Hörbiger and Pia Hierzegger. The film centers on high-powered [...]

  • Katherine Jerkovic on FiGa Films-Sold Debut

    Ventana Sur: Katherine Jerkovic On Personal References, Icebergs, and Whispered Truths

    Canada-born with roots in Uruguay, Croatia and Argentina, Katherine Jerkovic split her childhood between Belgium and Uruguay. At 18, she settled in Montreal and studied film at Concordia University. After a few shorts (“The Winter’s Keeper”) and some video-installations, she has finished her first feature, “Roads in February.” The film is a co-production between Nicolas [...]

  • 1844 Ent, Distrib Films To Release

    1844 Ent. Acquires North America on Alejandro Fadel’s ‘Murder Me, Monster’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — 1844 Entertainment, an emerging player on the U.S. distribution scene, has acquired North American rights to Argentine writer-director Alejandro Fadel’s “Muere monstruo muere” (“Murder Me, Monster”), sold by The Match Factory.      The deal was negotiated by 1844 Entertainment’s Tommaso Cerqueglini, The Match Factory’s Michael Weber and Thania Dimitrakopoulou.   As [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content