Written by Yue Jie
Directed by: Jack Neo
Running time: 118 minutes
Classification: PG13 – Some Sexual References
Release date: 1 February 2013
Rating: 3.5 / 5
(Mandarin with English subtitles)
Continuing from Ah Boys To Men Part 1 like how Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 (David Yates, 2011) did, Ah Boys To Men Part 2 certainly needs no introduction, especially for our local audience. Having had a fair share of comedy and drama in the first segment, Ah Boys To Men Part 2 follows up with more drama and delves deeply into the lives of National Servicemen (NSF), giving insight as they go through the compulsory Basic Military Training (BMT) as part of National Service (NS).
Recruits of Platoon 2, Section II of Ninja Company, having already been acquainted, go through the trials and tribulations every platoon experiences and complications inevitably arise among each other. Protagonist Ken Chow (Joshua Tan) gradually learns to stand up for himself as well as his platoon mates, abiding strongly by the colloquial military term “Leave no man behind.” From his naivety prior to enlisting to NS and getting over the breakup with his girlfriend the hard way, Ken becomes a recruit with much more maturity and leadership skills.
Aloysius Jin (Maxi Lim), whom we have come to know as the most enthusiastic and motivated recruit, shows signs of nonchalance towards his platoon mates, unintentionally of course, when it comes to behavioural matters, irking most of them and sparking rivalry. He learns this the hard way and it is only through a talk with Sergeant Ong (Tosh Zhang) that he realises his lack of camaraderie towards his platoon mates as he pursues knowledge and excellence to become “Best Recruit”. On the other hand, Ip Man (Noah Yap) discovers a gangster takes his girlfriend away from him and vows to seek revenge against him. As they are buddies, Aloysius further aggrieves him by advising that he lets the matter rest, creating a bone of contention between him and everyone.
In these scenarios, Ken steps in and attempts to break even by giving his point of view from both sides of the situation. While these show signs of positivity, the explanations he gives each time unfortunately border on the line of being cliché and scripted. As most of the platoon slowly comes to terms with one another, it is Lobang (Wang Weiliang) who refuses to change and is still adamant on sabotaging Aloysius in different ways until karma strikes and turns the tables on him instead.
As it is known, the trainings conducted in BMT are practical not only in times of war, but also in real life situations. When Ip Man and several others decide to play a dirty prank on the gangster, the recruits land themselves into trouble and utilise their life skills to evade from the resulting mob. Though useful, situations like these are obviously made for entertainment and should be taken with a pinch of salt even as they reflect a degree of immaturity in our recruits.
Ken’s father (Richard Low) who met with a mishap now suffers a stroke that leaves him partially paralysed. Reluctant to speak and move a muscle, it is news of Ken’s bravery when the recruits end up beaten that makes him smile and even commend Ken. After all, it is the lessons they learn from the challenges they face that turn them into men that make the right decisions.
The visual effects (VFX) are less emphasised in Part 2. However where there are, the scenes comes across as rather confusing instead of mesmerising. Though it is a good effort that VFX is inculcated in Ah Boys To Men for a first, there is still a long way to go in improvement for the local industry when it comes to this new development.
At the end of it, Ah Boys To Men Part 2 culminates in the popular Passing Out Parade (POP) for recruits after completing their BMT. For girlfriends and mothers whose boyfriends and sons are serving their NS respectively, Ah Boys To Men as a whole is a good indication of what the males do during their time in the army and the difficulties they encounter. Ah Boys To Men is therefore a slice of life for the Singaporean boy and resonates strongly with Singaporeans from all walks of life and will go down in history as the movie for future generations to come.
Directed by Jack Neo, Ah Boys To Men Part 1 has since earned a staggering
SGD $6.2 million at the local box office and shattered the 15-year-old record held by We Not Naughty (T.L Tay, 1998) as the highest-grossing local film in Singapore history. As much as Part 1 has been criticised for its plain slapstick comedy and narrow one-sided view of BMT, it is ultimately made for the Singaporean context and our entertainment. With all the hype surrounding this juggernaut of a local production in recent months, appreciate Ah Boys To Men while it lasts.
Check out the trailer below!