Lucky7 @SGIFF: It's OK to laugh now

Roughly a decade after the Singapore premiere of the omnibus Lucky7 in the 2008 edition of the Singapore International Film Festival (see picture below from the 2008 post-screening Q&A), I found watching it to be a cringe fest. Perhaps that’s a harsh way of saying the film is one of the best time capsules of the nascent filmmaking scene in Singapore over the last 10 years. 

Lucky7 is a project that involved seven filmmakers each making a segment of a feature film using the same actor, some parameters and information about the ending of the previous segment and the beginning of the next segment. It’s like a parlour game on steroids, a telematch that brought together ‘film people’ in the scene then - early movers, early movers who won some awards, and lots of wannabes. 

I was one of these wannabes, a hobbyist-filmmaker eager to meet others like me who were excited about how the filmmaking movement was evolving. It was a time when a few young names were already starting to put Singapore on the world map such as Boo Junfeng, Sun Koh, Ho Tzu Nyen. Their serious works aside, the Lucky7 project offered something akin to a playground where the filmmakers put aside egos and reservations and competed in creating scenes that make you go WTF. 

When in pain, sing in Tagalog 

Watch Sunny Pang, the lead actor helming all seven segments break into a Tagalog song in the middle of another familiar HDB living woes indie drama set up (in director Sun Koh's segment). Taking care of his bed-ridden dad nurtured the Filipino domestic helper in him indeed. 

Singapore got desert meh? 

Filmmaker K Rajagopal wants you to believe so. And we could have all been fooled. In segment 2, Sunny Pang trudges up and down sandy dune-lets and with artificially injected howling of the wind, the segment turned a Tampines sand fill into Timbuktu. 

Life in plastic 

Also in Rajagopal's segment, Sunny Pang is in love with a cross-dressing male mannequin. This affection is very complex. 

A cucumber-only refrigerator 

Still segment 2, after a seismic humping session between Sunny Pang and a prostitute, it is revealed that she has hitherto been sitting on a cucumber, in a moment of oddball humour. The cucumber then makes it to a certain cucumber fraternity in the refrigerator (a fridge filled with cucumbers like in a Tsai Ming Liang movie). Bet it said to the rest, ”I need to take shower.” 

What colour is your underwear today? 

Sunny receives an sms with the following message. If you need to know, it's Ris Low's favourite colour. 

Shady casting choice 

In Boo Junfeng's segment, actress Chermaine Ang, a face not seen in a decade, played a transitioning gay man, whom his grandmother, with her failing senses, is unable to recognise. 

Science lesson #2 Helium 

Inhaling helium makes the higher-pitched tones resonate more in the vocal tract, amplifying them so they are louder in the mix. At the same time, it makes the lower tones resonate less in the vocal tract. The two effects combine to create a Chipmunk-like, flat sound. Watch Boo Junfeng's segment for a demo. 

Where do floating balloons end up? 

I always wondered where balloons that you release up in the air end up? Won’t we get fined for littering if it ends up somewhere on some property? Or does it just drift away into the wide ocean in the South China Sea? No. You will see them again deflated and punctured on the road next to your home the next morning. 

Molestation cases on the rise 

Brian Gothong Tan’s segment paints a picture of a grimy Singapore where sick people are rife. In the film, a dubious male character collects newspaper clippings of molestation cases and pastes then side by side in a scrapbook (which basically makes it look like the ‘Home’ section of the Straits Times today). You think this segment is going on a ‘mind of a molester expose’ journey, until suddenly the young girl he follows pulls down her own panties and I am lost. 

New Arcade Game: ‘Void Deck Voyeur’ 

Sunny Pang the child molester meets his match and they both engage in a shoot down among the pillars in a HDB void deck. That’s how you play this computer game. Filmmaker Brian takes a giant genre leap by migrating this story into video game style animation. Players get ready! 

What happened to Lim Kay Tong? 

This familiar face in the 90s, synonymous with the Citibank ‘Chilli Crab’ ad, has somewhat disappeared from our screens. You would think he would dominate the grandpa role market, but unfortunately Zhu Houren and Chen Shucheng are the market leaders in this category. Filmmaker Chew Tze Chuan’s segment in Lucky7 offers Lim Kay Tong in a very different look. Somewhat mental. 

We used to hate the censors a lot more 

In Chew’s segment, a narratively messy one, someone walks around with a gigantic pair of scissors and starts aiming somewhere below the belt and cuts away. Blood gushes out like a geyser. All that bloody madness is punctuated in the middle by the Great Singapore Workout (cringey National Health Board’s invention from the 90s). That’s how much we hated the censors. 

SMRT not likely to allow people to film in their train depots ever again 

The sixth segment, Ho Tzu Nyen’s segment, is a what some people say just a lazy and convenient recap of the other segments. But hey, he made it different by being so extra and staging it at the Bishan MRT station. Years later this thing happened: Good luck to those who want to shoot at a train depot again! Fans of Chris Yeo or Yeo Siew Hua, who made A Land Imagined, look out for split second shots of him being and playing a DOP in this segment. These collaboratives are excellent places to play ‘Before they were famous’. 

Everything had to be CMIO-ed then 

CMIO refers to Chinese, Malay, Indian and Others. Purposed for social cohesion, everything in Singapore had to have a CMIO mix, from National Day billboards to TV programmes. This film was not spared the ideology. Sunny Pang, after scaling deserts and playing charades at the Bishan MRT train depot, is a total wreck and sleeps overnight at Changi Beach. Upon waking up, characters appear before him in a silo-ed CMIO (CIM to be exact) sequence - a friendly Chinese uncle who collects trash, a horny Indian couple who prefer the beach to the bedroom and a seemingly suicidal Malay girl who was actually just taking a dip in the water. Seriously, Tania Sng who directed this segment should have used Singapore’s most versatile actor Dennis Chew for this entire sequence. 

Lucky Seven played at Filmgarde yesterday under the 30th edition of the Singapore International Film Festival. Thank you for bringing this back. 

Written by Jeremy Sing. Jeremy was a line producer for 2 segments of the film, by K Rajagopal and Ho Tzu Nyen.  Lucky7 was one of the first films reviewed on SINdie in 2008, in collaboration with Stefan Shih who ran In A Nutshell Review. Check out this article here.
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