Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Center for Korean Studies Auditorium at 6:30 PM
Singapore (1998, 95 min)
English, Hokkien, Singlish
Director/Writer: Glen Goei
Music: Guy Gross
Cast: Adrian Pang, Medaline Tan, Anna Belle Francis, Pierre Png, Steven Lim, Alaric Tay, Westley Wong, Caleb Goh, Dominic Pace, Pam Oei, Kumar
Celebrating Chinese New Year and Tết!
Disco may be dead, but its spirit lives on in Forever Fever, a crowd-pleasing dance flick from then-first-time director Glen Goei. The film contains a deft mix of comedy, romance, and drama, which results in a thoroughly charming homage to Saturday Night Fever, John Travolta, and even the late, great Bruce Lee. Although steeped in references to the 1977 disco classic, the movie avoids rip-off status thanks to ample doses of heart, humor, and originality—not to mention an unmistakably Singaporean touch.
As silly as its plot may sound in print, Forever Fever is an unexpectedly solid comedy with heavy dramatic leanings. Thanks to some fine performances from its cast, the film never deteriorates into just another rote imitation of Saturday Night Fever, even when it lifts scenes verbatim from its more famous predecessor.
Adrian Pang brings a relaxed naturalism to the role of Hock, a quality that only increases the authenticity of his portrayal. He isn’t a zany protagonist, but very much a “regular guy” with real feelings, who has his moments of wit and wackiness just as all regular people do. The remaining characters are just as engaging, with Hock’s siblings being probably the most memorable. Pam Oei gets plenty of laughs as Hock’s sister Mui, a girl who reads nothing but trashy romance novels.
In probably one of the more challenging supporting roles, Caleb Goh acquits himself well as Leslie, Hock’s med student brother. It’s easy to see how Leslie could have deteriorated into just another stock villain: the arrogant know-it-all son, beloved by his parents at the hero’s expense. But writer/director Glen Goei imbues Forever Fever with more depth than its fluffy subject matter would lead one to believe, giving Leslie not only a more rounded character, but also a surprising secret that propels the last quarter of the film.
Forever Fever celebrates the more memorable moments from that John Travolta classic. Thankfully, the film has just enough original ideas to allow it to stand on its own. If you’re looking for a fun dance movie without too much fluff, Forever Fever is the film to see. And hey, it’s ten times better than Staying Alive. -Calvin McMillin, lovehkfilm.com