3rd SSFA 2012 - Review of Hentak Kaki (Best Performance Award)

3rd SSFA 2012 - Review of Hentak Kaki

Hentak Kaki – James Khoo
Awarded: Best Performance Award to Michael Chua for 3rd SSFA

Watch trailer here:

This was a graduation piece for his final year in LASALLE College of the Arts, but James Khoo is one of the budding filmmakers Singapore has to keep an eye out for.  For this year’s SSFA, James and his team walked away with “Best Performance Award for Hentak Kaki. There is no question why.

First of all, the film is easy to understand, visually gorgeous and absolutely relatable.  In Hentak Kaki, it is a story about overcoming the odds. It is about a person who has reached a carrier barrier, and has to overcome a personal barrier to determine whether he dares to do something different with his life.

James has proven his skill in writing relatable script with narrative linear storytelling methods. His keen ear for dialogue was what impressed me the most. The colloquial Singlish and the army talk are extremely believable and the stories are relatable as well. The short was not overly indulgent in delving on Officer Lee’s frustration on his injured knee. It also did not dangerously dwell too long on playing up the banter (or questioning, if you prefer) between him and his friend, Raj who was in detention. Themes of despair, trust, and friendship overarching this film are told remarkably well too. For international readers, Hentak Kaki is a Malay term for "marching on the spot", or staying where you are. It is also a command used in the Singapore army as well, to which James cleverly played it to good use in this short.

Best performance is duly awarded to Michael Chua, who played the officer in the short. The dynamism in his dialogues immediately drew the audience in. Any Singaporean listening and watching Michael deliver his lines will definitely be reminded of someone they know who is like him as well. Raj (the offender) was slightly stiff but that is passable, I suppose. Could do better emoting care and concern.

The short has potential to be expanded longer, which could have prevented the ending from being abrupt. Overall, I really quite enjoyed it and look forward to watching more works from James Khoo.

For the full list of award winners of 3rd SSFA, see Sindie's coverage here
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