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Sex, Scams and Gangs: Cheeky ‘Unlucky Plaza’ Movie to Hit Singapore Film Fest

MICHAEL CHUA: I am lucky to be invited to the private screening of “Unlucky Plaza” for the cast and crew at The Projector. It is also the first movie to be screened at the 25th Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) 2014. The Projector is  a recently renovated cinema for independent films, at Golden Mile, Singapore.

The title of the movie, “Unlucky Plaza”, is a cheeky snide at Lucky Plaza, a mall frequented by Filippinos living in Singapore. The “Unlucky” bit is also a hint of the lead character’s calamitous journey as a migrant, father and businessman, played convincingly by Epy Quizon, a Fillipino actor, based in Manila.

Among some of the diretor, Ken Kwek’s work is “Sex.Violence.Family Values”, an anthology of short films, which was banned by the Singapore and Malaysian governments in 2012. It was later allowed to release in Singapore and sold-out to packed audience.

The screenplay of “Unlucky Plaza”, started with the portrayal of individual characters of: the migrant filippino father and his son; the Singaporean motivational get-rich-quick speaker and his frustrated and adulterous wife; the pastor who has sinned and fell prey to the seductress; and the gangster from China who comes chasing for his money. I was sufficiently mesmerised with each of the quirky sub-plots that I did not expect a crisis looming and their paths to cross and culminate in a kidnapping-hostage situation.

(I had no idea what the film is about at all before I entered the cinema hall.)

The actors fleshed out their characters very well, most of whom are veterans in the local scene and have many years in stage performance.

I like the sound and camera work, particularly the smooth flow of steadicam work gliding up the stairs exhibiting the opulence of the bungalow with a swimming pool, two maids and a lavish interior.

While the movie has many funny bits that made me laughed, I cannot help empathising with the stories of migrant workers from developing countries and their plight striking out a living in a foreign country.

“Unlucky Plaza”  convinced me that there are more than one way to make a film that can sell in Singapore and Malaysia, without having to resort to highly localised slapstick and course comedy.

I would highly recommend you watch the movie.

Thanks Michael for this review of the movie, Unlucky Plaza.

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