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

   God or Dog  


God or Dog

Reviewed by Kelvin Ha

Director: Hugo Ng
Writing Credits: Hugo Ng
Cast: Hugo Ng
Genre: Thriller
Country: Singapore
Language: Cantonese, Hokkien, English
Year Released: 1997
Run Time: 86 min
Rating: ** (out of four stars)

The propensity of people to believe in charismatic quack leaders inadvertently leads to tragedy, so says this new film by Hugo Ng on the Adrian Lim murders which shocked the nation more than a decade ago. In fact, the bizarre cult murders of a young girl and boy are so deeply etched into the nation's subconscious that Ng had a real problem casting for the lead role in this film. All the actors who were considered for the role were psychologically put off by the prospect of playing the role of Adrian Lim, and one actor even backed out of the role after the camera's had rolled, forcing Ng to take up the lead himself.

In this film, Lim is portrayed as Sin, a person who is just as vulnerable as everyone else to the attraction of black magic and faith healers. Apprenticing himself to one such faith healer, he discovers that his master is no more than a sexually driven con man who molests and sleeps with women who come to him seeking cures for their various ailments. After exposing the empty magic of his master, Sin takes over his role and soon kicks his wife and son out of the three room flat they share and moves in his mistress. Very soon, word of their practice spreads, and he gains a following of vulnerable people who believe in every word he says. Not long after this, he takes another mistress, and in an effort to stop his so-called powers from diminishing, he takes the lives of the two children. His actions are seen as a test of his invulnerability, further convincing himself that he has attained a god-like status which allows him to do with the lives of others as he pleases.

Shot on location in Singapore, the film has shots of Housing Development Board (HDB) blocks and corridors, giving it a homely feeling. Ng's acting, while not fantastic, is nevertheless convincing as Sin. While the film deals with how he sexually manipulates women, there are however no shots of naked female flesh. Instead, we get gratuitous and narcissistic shots of Ng's own flabby body several times throughout the film. What gives the film a nice touch is the mixture of Mandarin, Cantonese, and English. One of the police detectives who arrests Sin even spouts colloquial phrases like "damn stink, man." Even Hokkien expletives are used in this movie, and while it doesn't feel like a made in Singapore movie, the occasional lapses into local language does give it a homely flavor.

God or Dog premiered at the Singapore International Film Festival 1997, and while it is not a masterpiece, it will surely draw enough attention to make it well known.

This review first appeared in The Flying Inkpot.