You may define your own banner on the settings page.
FilmsAsia: Asian film reviews
Soh Yun-Huei
Dave Chua
Brandon Wee
Wong Lung Hsiang
Felix Cheong
Foong Ngai Hoe
Adrian Sim
Chris Khoo
O Thiam Chin
Lau Chee Nien
Ambient Noise
Sarhan Rashid
Ying Wuen
Ellery Ngiam
Toh Hai Leong
Toh Hai Leong, Auteur
Wong Kar Wai
The Seduction of Wong Kar Wai
Tsai Ming Liang
Lav Diaz
Mikio Naruse
Leslie Cheung
Jonathan Foo Interview
Chinese Ghosts
Assassins in Asian FIlms
Sex in Asian Cinema
Erotic Cinema of the Shaw Studios
Homosexuality in Chinese Films
My Left Eye Sees Creativity
Hollywood Remakes
Comic Book Superheroes
One League of Social Consciousness
Emerging Trends in East Asian Cinema
Postwar Korean Cinema
Decline of Hong Kong Cinema before 1997
Rise of Afghan Films
Singapore's Mini Cinema
Creating A Singapore Cinema
Why Cinema is Important to Singapore
Singapore Film Industry
Rites of Passage
Replying to Critics
Daniel Yun Interview
Singapore International Film Festival
Bangkok International Film Festival
Tokyo International Film Festival
Toronto International Film Festival
Writer's Block
All Tomorrow's Parties
And Also the Eclipse
Another Heaven
At Five in the Afternoon
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Bangkok Haunted
Barking Dogs Never Bite
Batang West Side
Battle Royale
Bear Hug
Beautiful Boxer
Beijing Rocks
Bend It Like Beckham
Best of Times
Betelnut Beauty
Big Durian
Big Shot's Funeral
Bird Man Tale
Blissfully Yours
Blue Kite
Bounce Ko Gals
Brighter Summer Day, A
Cafe Lumiere
Cat Returns
Chinese Odyssey 2002
City of Glass
City Sharks
Color of the Truth
Color Blossoms
Confucian Confusion
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
Dark Water
Destination 9th Heaven
Divine Intervention
Double Vision
Dumlings: 3 Extremes
Enter the Phoenix
Era of Vampire, The
Eye, The
Eye 2, The
Eye 10, The
Fat Choy Spirit
Floating Weeds
Fog of War, The
Formula 17
Full Alert
Ghost in the Shell
God or Dog
Golden Chicken
Golden Chicken 2
Goodbye, Dragon Inn
Guru, The
Hana-Bi (Fireworks)
Harold and Kumar
Hidden Blade, The
House of Flying Daggers
House of Fury
House of Sand and Fog
Howl's Moving Castle
I Not Stupid
In the Mood for Love
Infernal Affairs
Infernal Affairs III
Innocence: Ghost in the Shell 2
Iron Ladies 2
Isle, The
Jan Dara
Jealousy is My Middle Name
Joint Security Area
Ju-On: The Grudge (2003)
July Rhapsody
Korban Fitnah
Kung Fu Hustle
Lan Yu
Last Life in the Universe
Last Samurai, The
Legend of Zu, The
Liang Po Po
Love Letter
Lucky Number
Marry a Rich Man
Me Thao
Medallion, The
Monrak Transistor
Moveable Feast, A
Munna Bhai M.B.B.S.
Musa the Warrior
My Left Eye Sees Ghosts
My Neighbors The Yamadas
My Sassy Girl
Naked Weapon
Name of a River, The
New Police Story
Nobody Knows
Nobody Knows How to be a Film Critic
One Leg Kicking
Perfect Blue
Phone, The
Ping Pong
Pirated Copy
Princess D
River, The
Road Home
Romance of Book and Sword
Runaway Pistol
S Diary
S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine
Scent of Green Papaya
Seoul Raiders
Seventeen Years
Shall We Dance?
Shanghai Knights
Shaolin Soccer
Singapore Gaga
Skywalk is Gone
So-Called Friends
So Close
Someone Special
Song of the Stork
Spider Forest
Spirited Away
Spring Summer Fall Winter Spring
Stories About Love
Storm Riders
Summer Holiday
Sumpah Pontianak
Super Size Me
Surprise Party
Swing Girls
Tale of Two Sisters, A
Tears of the Black Tiger
Teenage Textbook Movie
This Charming Girl
Three: Extremes
Tokyo Raiders
Touch, The
Tree, The
Truth or Dare
Twelve Storeys
Twenty-Four Eyes
Twins Effect
Twins Effect 2
Virgin Stripped Bare by her Bachelors
Visitor Q
Volcano High
Warriors of Heaven and Earth
Way Home, The
Welcome Back Mr McDonald
Wesley's Mysterious File
When I Fall In Love With Both
Wishing Stairs
Wolves Cry Under the Moon
Woman is the Future of Man
Women's Private Parts
World Without Thieves, A
Zombie Dog
A Time to Live A Time to Die
e-mail me

   Lucky Number  


Lucky Number

Reviewed by Low Bee Hong and Foong Ngai Hoe

Chinese Title: Bailiu Libai
Director: Ko Lam Po
Cast: Law Kar-Ying
Genre: Comedy
Country: Singapore
Languages: English, Hokkien, Mandarin
Year Released: 1999
Rating: ½ star (out of four stars)

Overseas Movies manager Zhang Zun Nan told Lian He Zao Bao in an interview that Lucky Number would be a film for the masses. Having watched it, I can only say that in terms of plot, setting and tone, this is a film that caters more to the man on the street. Singlish, Housing Development Board (HDB) flats, coffee shops, multi-cultural communities -- they're something we're familiar with. You can tell the ending even before it's over.

The story's about Jonathan, who's been working for years at a coffee shop. Around him, people are falling victim to the economic downturn, including regular customer and Jonathan's good friend, Li Ming Lai, whose company had just closed. Soon, even Jonathan's affected when his petty boss falls for the charms of a young 'dragon lady' (girl from mainland China) Augustine. Thinking that she be a helper in the day, and his mistress in the evening, Jonathan's boss fires him and hires Augustine instead.

Jobless and without any marketable skills, Jonathan and Ming Lai find it tough riding the economic storm. They try to get by first by selling Viagra, and then serve as lookouts and runners for illegal betting rings, but do miserably every time. Finally, both end up in court for selling pirated VCDs, where they meet their defense lawyer Man. To pay their $40,000 fine, Jonathan spends his last $100 at the lottery. He however gets the number recommended by Hong Kong star Luo Jia Yin all wrong, but manages to strike it big. Eventually Jonathan buys up his former boss' coffee shop, becoming its proprietor. The end.

In any case, Lucky Number follows the footsteps of Money No Enough, without providing anything new. While lacking creativity, it’s a surprisingly sincere production, with the actors and actresses putting their best foot forward, so to speak. Television Corporation of Singapore artiste Lin Yi Sheng managed to grasp Ming Lai's character very well, while Wu Jian Hua, who plays Jonathan, has a comedic face just right for the role of a cowardly coffee shop attendant.

'Dragon lady' Zhang Yan Bin gives her voluptuous best, but appears to have overdone it a bit. Li Shu Fang, who plays the karaoke hostess, put up a brave (and wild) performance worthy of praise; Yao Ying Ying was competent as the female lawyer. And of course, Hong Kong star Luo Jia Ying's acting (playing herself) was commanding in her own 'Hong Kong' way.

The pity, therefore, is that even good acting cannot salvage a bad script. The coincidences in the plot are just too many to be believable. For instance, after Jonathan loses his job, it's failure after failure for our protagonist, and then suddenly, once his luck turns round, it's vice versa. One can't help but feel that efforts to inject a sense of reality into the script has somehow backfired because of this.

Word-play is also popular in local Chinese productions, and Lucky Number's no exception. For example, lou pou bang in Cantonese means 'no problem'; zuo liao beng (Hokkien) is 'Jonathan'; and Indian hawker Wegum Sami becomes wei ge san li (3 Viagra pills) in Mandarin. All these might make the film more close to home, but they also make Lucky Number less accessible to an overseas market.

Director Gao Lin Bao has sought to derive humour by employing lots of dialect in the dialogue, caricaturising the man on the street, and exaggerating their lives. HDB flats, coffee shops, long queues at TOTO betting outlets, and Singapore's unique rojak of languages -- everyone here knows them. 'Dragon ladies' as greedy vixens from China (I wonder how Chinese expatriates here will react to this stereotype); pirated VCDs and software; economic recession; unemployment; retrenchment -- these are things we often read in the papers. With such common subjects, a mediocre script and direction, there's nothing really unique about Lucky Number. And given the film's over-reliance on word-play to induce laughter, don't expect the film to break new ground.

It seems that only Eric Khoo's Mee Pok Man and 12 Storeys have seriously tackled the Singaporean lifestyle on film. And maybe because of this, some audiences have found Khoo's films a bit too highbrow for their liking.

But when you consider how far films like Lucky Number, which limit themselves to recycling localized stories and themes, can go in an international market, it's no longer a laughing matter.