Chicken Rice War (2000)
Main cast: Pierre Png (Fenson) and Lum May Yee (Audrey)
Director: Cheah Chee Kong

Singapore's local movie scene, to be blunt, is beyond rigor mortis. It's probably in some limbo of a void at the moment. Kudos to Raintree and Shaw Brothers then, for trying to revive the local movie scene, but they have to do better than the puerile stuff they put out year after year. Chicken Rice War beats last year's inane Forever Fever when it comes to gross-out sentimentalism and fake emotions.

It's supposed to be a hip take on Romeo and Juliet. This time around, it's the feud between the Wongs and the Chans, both chicken rice sellers, when they find their stalls located side by side in Ang Mo Kio. Fenton and Audrey play the star-crossed lovers.

Well, for one thing, Chee Kong is no Baz Luhrmann and his script reads like an extended lovelorn prepubsecent radio dedication over Perfect10's Say It With Music. Pierre Png and Lum May Yee play their respective roles with absolute zero chemistry, zilch sexual tension - it is so hard to believe there is any heavy breathing going on between them. It doesn't help that the lines they mouth, in throes of love, make me cringe because they are so trite and fake. They speak bad greeting card poetry, lousy rhymes with all the passion one usually reserved for jolly jobs like climbing down sewer pipes.

The humor is also way-off, relying on trite old and unfunny Singaporean humor. Yes, fat people are still supposed to be buffoons. Old fat ladies waving broomsticks are supposed to be funny. Ha ha. Small kids screaming PG-rated bad words are funnier. Hee hee.

It is as if Chee Kong believes that culling all the stuff he reads from Cosmo or Herworld and throwing them in nilly-willy a romantic comedy makes. Then why on earth is Audrey so icy, so stiff, and absolutely devoid of personality? Why is Fenton so castrated and emasculated, speaking his lines as if he has a cucumber shoved up his nether regions (in short, a perfect wimp)? When is a romance so devoid of sexual tension and heavy kisses?

This movie may draw in some money from the radio love dedication crowds as well as those local bigwigs who are obligated to support this local movie, but until some one comes up with a decent script that doesn't borrow heavily from Hollywood and isn't dictated by stupid TCS and Broadcast Authority standards to the nth degree, the local movie scene has still yet to find a pulse.

Rating: 14

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