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Filial Party: Funny film marred by underdeveloped ending

Singapore director Boris Boo takes a humorous look at the abstract concept of filial piety in his new film "Filial Party".

SINGAPORE: What does it mean to be a filial son or daughter?

That is the question Singapore director Boris Boo explores in his new film “Filial Party”.

“Filial Party” sees Mark Lee play Millionaire Liu, a television producer who creates “Filial Party”, a reality show where contestants must grant their parents’ deepest wishes to show how filial they are, in order to win a million dollars.

The prize money attracts Peh Ah Beng (Christopher Lee), a security guard who is knee-deep in debt and constantly chided by his fiery wife Lee Chun Jiao (Kym Ng).

He competes against lawyer Woo Yishuang (Ann Kok), who believes that winning the contest would her help realise her political aspirations, and Yoona Zhuang (Hayley Woo), who wants to win the money so she can afford to study overseas.

To make things a little more interesting, Liu offers a cash reward to anyone who sends in footage which showed the contestants being filial or un-filial.

The three contestants must stay on their toes, lest the ‘Citizen Paparazzi’ catch them in compromising situations and destroy their dream of winning the show’s million-dollar prize.

Rounding out the film’s cast are veteran stars Richard Low and Liu Ling Ling who play Peh’s father and mother respectively, along with Guo Liang as well as Irene Ang who play Zhuang’s doting parents.

“Filial Party” has a pretty interesting and novel premise.

It is quite uncommon to see a film, much less a Singaporean one, deal with a theme like filial piety.

While the events in “Filial Party” are nowhere near believable, the film never takes itself too seriously.

It is littered with genuinely funny moments that make it easier to overlook just how bizarre the situations in the film are, though some of the gags can be a little crass.

The film is littered with product placements as well.

Whenever there is a sequence involving the fictional reality game show in the film, Boo packs in as much advertising and product placement as possible, and passes it off as part of the programme.

Fortunately for Boo, it didn’t affect the flow of the film too much despite being rather in-your-face.

The film's storyline may be interesting, but it is the cast which makes it come alive.

Singapore actor Christopher Lee delivers a convincing performance as the boorish Peh, and was able to ham it up for the film’s humorous scenes but still get serious for its more dramatic ones.

He has such good chemistry with Richard Low, who plays his screen dad, you'd almost think they are actually father and son in real life.

Hayley Woo played the spoilt Zhuang reasonably well, and Kok made the most with the little she was given to work with in her first big screen outing.

Kok’s character Woo Yishuang was not properly developed, leaving the actress with only a few key scenes, like a scene where she pleads with bystanders not to photograph her mother and her son after a near-accident, to flesh out her character.

With an interesting premise and a capable cast, “Filial Party” is a relatively entertaining film.

It is just a shame the film’s ending is so underdeveloped.

After all the buildup earlier in the movie, the last twenty minutes of the film were rather unsatisfying.

It felt as though the film’s producers ran out of time, and rushed to put together an ending for the film, just so it can be released on schedule.

3/5 stars.

“Filial Party” opens in Singapore on May 8.

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