'Steadfast' by David Liu and Linus Chen

If anyone was looking for a truly unique or refreshing proposition to the Singapore film scene, Steadfast certainly set out with a vengeance to tick some of the boxes.

A crew of men clad in black suits and shades stand opposite the former Supreme Court as a motorcade of BMWs pull up by the side. A bodyguard (presumably) surveys his surrounds before ushering a dignitary into the car.

Nope - the VIP in view is not a member of our country’s ruling party, but rather a businessman being protected from a group of assassins. Yup – right in the heart of Singapore.

Billed as an action film to break new ground in Singapore, Steadfast fulfils in-part the curiosity of the audience. Gun-slinging and battle scenes complete with fist-fights between renegade and assassin, contrasted to a boardroom where a high-level discussion reaches a stalemate, work to satiate the appetite of the action film junkie and keep the rest of us on the edge of our seats.

This, coupled with the plot’s decent pacing from conflict to climactic end, makes this 36-minute action-packed film a watchable treat.

To say however, that Steadfast is a film of epic proportions in breaking new ground may be taking it a tad too far.

Whether it was the shaky camera work in the characters’ gunfight dashes (presumably an intentional technique), the disorienting and repeated cuts from individuals’ furrow-browed expressions to boardroom shots (we get it, they are perplexed), or the ‘I’ve-seen/heard-that-somewhere-before’ action film clich├ęs, one is often left having to piece together the plot’s structure rather than being hooked to the film’s otherwise decent pacing.

Plot distractions aside, one too felt the impact of key scenes was diluted due to perhaps a detachment from reality. Perhaps it was inevitable given the film’s billing as the local action film to look out for, but gun-battle scenes where with gratuitous triggering to hunt down all-of one character were a little too overwhelming to turn a blind eye to. At times it felt like the weapons in hand – which to be fair, looked and sounded realistic enough for an audience not to cringe – were the main stars of the show as opposed to the men wielding them.

Still, all things considered, you feel the filmmaker-duo who wrote/directed Steadfast - David Liu and Linus Chen, deserve much credit for their work. Not lest due to the constraints of a tight production budget and the near-impossible (at least on our island) hype and billing of a breakthrough action film on local shores.

Here’s wishing this will serve but a stepping stone for these filmmakers and more to explore the road/genre-less-travelled in the name of bringing Singapore film to the world stage.

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