Tag Archives: james lee

Call if you need me.

Back-dated entry in March.
Recently I bought some of James Lee’s works through Da Huang Pictures. Ok, just two to begin with. His latest film ‘Call if you need me’ has so far won a handful of global recognition and international screenings elsewhere but here.

Directed by James Lee and Tan Chui Mui as the producer, the movie starred a simple village dude Or Kia (Sunny Pang) who had arrived in the big city and met his cousin brother Ah Soon (Pete Teo) for an underground job which, calls for Or Kia’s decision in the end to choose between brotherhood honor and defending for his stay in the gangster’s paradise.

Like many of James Lee underdog films, reality is always portrayed as the illusion that bites. Hard. The first 10 to 20 minutes in the opening of the film, for example, does not waste time with the audience questioning what the casts were doing popping pills and dance away like there’s no tomorrow. Or the scene about the guys who are fairly eloquent in porn talk on daily basis.

I have to admit being turned off by such disturbing environment they called themselves home, but there was an unmistakable charm in the storyline that I was looking for, one is centred on the relationship between Or Kia and Ah Soon, and another between Ah Soon and his near non-existent love partner, though I felt the relationship was never developed further into a story of its own. Maybe a spin-off of that would be good.

I want to know what made Or Kia betrayed the childhood memories he kept reminding Ah Soon about in the beginning of the movie, and what made him turn his back on Ah Soon. But there was no prior revenge intended, no unfinished business to attend to.

As the movie progressed on however, it dawned on me how predictable it would be if it were the case. I think it would work well on some plot-twisted drama action film elsewhere, anywhere but here. The nature of the dark society eventually takes its course. Or Kia stepped up to replace Ah Soon in the mob business and the ending speaks for itself in the depressing symbol of a branded blazer that Or Kia received from Ah Soon, and his last words to Ah Soon made sense of what the movie is about.

Rating: 3.5/5

Flower in the pocket.

It was during some boring night of channel-surfing on second day of CNY, that I found myself 5 minutes to spare before the opening of multi-award winning indie film ‘Flower in the Pocket’ on Kirana. I remembered wanting to watch this back when it was released in 2007, but I drifted to something else… can’t remember what. Ok, anyway, I was wrong, for not giving this winning indie masterpiece by Liew Seng Tat and casting actor James Lee the benefit of the doubt.

flowerinthepocketThe story goes about two little brothers Li Ahh and Li Ohm raised by single father Sui (played by James Lee). The brothers weren’t the brightest lot at school, and often find themselves in trouble and occasional ridicule by snob-looking kids and teachers who couldn’t care less about them. They spend their after-school hours wandering the streets, minding their child play, and along the way, befriended a tomboy malay girl.

The scene then moves on to Sui, who tirelessly work on his job mending mannequins. Both the kids and father lived together under one roof, yet their relationship and life at daily basis were depicted in separate frames (the characters almost never ‘met’ until more than an hour later in the film). Throughout the movie, I was given the impression that Sui doesn’t give a damn about his kids, and I suspect it’s going to end like what most indie films did, a father who doesn’t love his kids enough. Period.

jamesleeandkidsBut I stayed on because I read the synopsis described Sui as a doting father to his kids, feeling unconvinced how Sui could have portrayed the opposite! Halfway through the movie, I do realized that there’s something about the way Sui connects (which translates to James Lee’s superb acting) to his kids which I find endearing. I don’t know if it’s because James Lee character sleep in his boxers or what, or Sui carrying his mannequin in suggestive gestures…ahem.

Funny how things that you consider insignificant could actually alter the way you see life in the big picture, and in this case, it was a stranded puppy that brought to Sui’s attention about his kids’ need for basic longing and affection of a parent, which he have been ignorant about all these while.

fitpSo he decided, once and for all, that he was going to set things right, in the most amusing manner a father can be. He showed his love (or at least that’s what I think he was doing) by teaching the kids to swim! But to comprehend the whole story, you just have to watch it to find out what and especially how he did it. Let’s just say you’ll never see swimming the same way again. I’m sure James Lee and the actor kids would agree. 😛

Liew Seng Tat has definitely captured everyone in this film in their effortless demeanor, a flowing storyline that’s tucked in the right fold of laughter, yet drama enough be taken seriously. All said, Flower in the pocket is one of a few worth-awarded indie films I will remember.

Rating: 4/5