STOP10 Nov 2017: 10 Ways to Enjoy Jack Neo's 'Ah Boys to Men 4'

In celebration of 50 years of National Service, SINdie presents...

10 Ways to Enjoy Jack Neo's Ah Boys to Men 4:

1. Rest assured that this is the Jack Neo you know and love. Neo is an established veteran of the local film scene, having written his first comedy feature (Money No Enough) in 1998 and made his directorial debut (I Not Stupid) in 2002. For a long time in the 2000s, he was the only Singaporean director who was a household name, and his films remain an omnipresent fixture of the local comedy industry, especially when Chinese New Year rolls around. In other words, you probably already know what a Jack Neo film has to offer. Be assured that Ah Boys to Men 4 does not depart from Neo's established formula, and enjoy!

2. Catch up with the boys... Ah Boys to Men 4 is the fourth instalment of the franchise, and your favourite boys are back, all reprising the roles that they originated in the first film: Tosh Zhang as Sergeant Alex Ong, Joshua Tan as Ken Chow, Maxi Lim as Aloysius Jin, Wang Wei Liang as Lobang King, and Noah Yap as IP Man.

3. ... and discover the life of reservists. Five years on from the first film, the franchise can no longer plausibly rehash the recruit training storyline without its key actors looking a little overgrown for their roles. Ah Boys to Men 4 thus seizes the opportunity to tackle National Service after the notorious two-year full-time stint. Portrayals of the reservist life are extremely few and far between—a rare exception being Lucas Pang's play FRAGO at Checkpoint Theatre this year—so ABTM4 offers up its contribution to this minuscule pool, capturing the dead air, the impatience of men with now-busier lives, and the lack of motivation and fear that once drove them in full-time NS.

4. Check out how the Armoured Infantry works. If you hear that a soldier is from Armour and your first question is, "Wow! Does that mean you can drive a tank?" then this movie can teach you a thing or two. As rare as reservist portrayals (if not even rarer) is the representation of the armoured infantry life in Singapore, most notably plumbed by Troy Chin in his autobiographical comics series The Resident Tourist. Ah Boys to Men 4 gives local audiences a peek into how these soldiers operate, huddling at the back of an armoured vehicle, or laying out a plethora of items in front of the vehicle to be mounted afterwards.

5. Gaze upon the first female soldier in the franchise. Hong Kong-based actress Apple Chan takes on the first female lead role in a heavily masculine franchise, as the Ah Boys to Men title suggests! It is about time, given that women in the army are hardly a new sight. The film gives us a glimpse at some of the perceptions that women soldiers have to deal with in a predominantly male, testosterone-oozing environment like the army. As a lieutenant new to the service, Chan's character gets to show off how tough she can be... even to the point of displaying her mixed martial arts (MMA) prowess.

6. Let the film's absurd, anything-goes comedy wash over you, much like the fart that Maxi Lim's character unleashes in a crowded armour vehicle. Jack Neo began his career in sketch comedy, after all, which translates into a script (co-written with Ivan Ho) that is willing to grab at any opportunity for a laugh. In what other army movie, for example, is the climactic villain played by a beehive?

7. Heave a sigh of relief at the non-controversial handling of racial minorities. That is, if you're a liberal Social Justice Warrior type who followed the ABTM4 audition saga with some concern. Thankfully, the final version of Ah Boys to Men 4 shows no sign of anyone having been asked to play a full-blown ethnic caricature of any sort. (If you're a conservative anti-cuck type, you can act outraged that the SJWs made a big fuss over nothing.)

8. Play a bingo game with the film's many, many sponsors. If you want add an additional layer of entertainment when you're watching Ah Boys to Men 4, ensure that you and your viewing partners fill out a 4x4 grid randomly with the following sponsors and partners: ST Engineering, Brand's, RoyalCaribbean International, Gold Kili, Qiren, Durex, POSB, Old Chang Kee, Crestar, Khong Guan, Tiger Balm, UFC Refresh, NIVEA Men, Bee Cheng Hiang. Each time a sponsor receives some product placement, cross out that grid. First to complete a full line wins! (You could also make this a drinking game, but we are not responsible for any liver damage that may result.)

9. Appreciate the filmmakers' business acumen. Ah Boys to Men 4 must be a movie executive's dream: a film that can attract sponsors just on the strength of its predecessors, and that has a built-in audience both from the franchise's existing fans, as well as from people nostalgic about whatever sector of the Singapore Armed Forces is explored by the latest entry. Eat it, Transformers! Any bets on whether Ah Boys to Men 5 will be about medics / engineers / etc.?

10. Get your adrenaline pumping at the film's action scenes. Of course, no one wants to watch a movie about Armour without getting to see the 'swift and decisive' armoured vehicles in action! While the bulk of the movie is centred on the men's time in reservist, ABTM4 eventually does serve us what we're looking for—armoured vehicles roaring past the jungle, kicking up furious clouds of dust as they go. One almost wishes the entire movie were an entire long mission!

Check out the official movie trailer here.

Ah Boys to Men 4 will be released in cinemas islandwide on 9 November.
Stay tuned to SINdie for our full review of the movie as well as an interview with the movie's lead Tosh Zhang!

Written by Colin Low

For the full list of November 2017's 10 films under STOP 10, click here.

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