Jack Neo’s latest movie tells a heart-warming story of brotherhood and family.
I’m not going to lie. For all you caviar-eating, champagne-sipping, ageless hipsters out there, The Lion Men is not for you. This Jack Neo movie was made for the common man—the keropok-eating, kopi-sipping, Singlish-spewing masses, myself included.
Starring Ah Boys to Men’s Tosh Zhang and Wang Wei Liang, the idea for The Lion Men came about from a conversation Neo had with his wife Irene in the car. She had suggested a story about a troupe of lion dancers, a group of men who worked together for a common purpose.
Much like his other movies, this one a story with a moral message drawing from themes of loyalty, disappointment and family. Master of the human nature, Neo brings out the bonds of family and friendship in his films through compelling characters such as the shifu of the troupe, to whom the young men look up as a father figure. He yells at them, is stubborn in his traditional ways but loves his boys with an iron fist.
For most, this is reminiscent of the quintessential Asian father. There is no denying that Neo’s brand of dialogue tugs at the heartstrings. This is also makes his films so successful. While completely predictable, the story does have a few interesting, and extremely surprising, plot lines. Props to Neo for his impeccable taste in actors—both Zhang and Wang share unmistakable chemistry that makes their reel friendship all the more real.
But as realistic as the local spirit and dialogue was, the technical aspects—the sound effects and CGI, particularly—affected the movie experience for me. Still, I was charmed by the local spirit of the film, and there were some good laughs in it. At the end of the day, it is Neo’s ability to weave brotherly camaraderie, family love and humor into a story that makes this a good watch.
Happy Chinese New Year (or what’s left of it)!