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REVIEW: I Not Stupid (Singapore)

Old 10-18-02, 01:23 AM
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REVIEW: I Not Stupid (Singapore)

I Not Stupid (Singapore)
Director: Jack Neo

Synopsis (taken from the Singaporean VCD):
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"I NOT STUPID" is a satirical comedy which will make you laugh and cry almost at the same time. It protrays the struggles of three young children and their families in pursuit of academic excellence in a highly competitive society. The parents are equally challenged in the rat race, taking their own "exams" to survive in the modern society.

Thoughts:
~~~~~~
The story follows three kids in the EM3 class, which is for the "dumb" kids. They get looked down upon by society, and their parents push them hard to do better in school, "for their own good". This is contrasted with their parents struggle in their very competitive workplace. The kids are from different
backgrounds (rich, middle-class and blue collar), and they each have to deal with different pressures from their parents. Their parents, in turn, have different pressures placed on them.

But the big picture is really a commentary about the goverment keeping their citizens "obedient" (Witness the opening text of the movie). The script seamlessly incorporates how the parents controls the kids, with how the goverment controls it's citizens. In one scene, we see the mother appease her daughter by buying her a new pair of sport shoes, and then her husband reads in the papers that the goverment is giving out pension perks to it's citizens (possibly an election is upcoming). Simply brilliant! The critisms of the goverment and the obedient public by the characters in the movie are placed in the form of jokes, and are really funny.

The movie is mainly in Mandarin, and there is a sequence that stresses the importance of Chinese people learning the Chinese language (The movie shows that Singaporeans place the English language above Chinese language in order to be sucessful in the workforce...). Mixed in the dialogue is also Hokkien (Fukkien?), used to hilarious effect by one of the kids father. The use of Singaporean slang during the English dialogues (called Singlish) is very funny. Words like "Why he like that" and "OK-la" give the movie a certain charm and light-hearted feel.

Being originally from Malaysia myself, this movies strikes a chord with me personally. From the pressures put on the kids to succeed in school, to the English language slang (referred to as Slinglish in the movie), to the use of multiple languages and dialects while in conversation.

This is a very sincere and heart-felt movie, and everyone should give it a view.


DVD review:
~~~~~~~
Publisher: Universe (Hong Kong)
Runtime: 105 mins
Capacity: DVD-5
Region: 3
Ratio: 1.85:1 Letterbox (non-anamorphic)
Audio: International DD Stereo and DD 5.1
Subtitles: Optional English and Chinese (Traditional nad Simplified)

Extras:
Movie trailer
Music Video for the theme song
More Attractions: Music Video for theme song from A Walk To Remember

The video is quite clear, with good colour saturation. But the image is somewhat soft, but not distractingly so. Jaggies are ever present on diagonal lines. The image is relatively free of scratches or speckles. But the MPEG compression could definitely be improved using a DVD-9 disc.
The DD-Stereo has a noticeable background hiss, with thinny sounding dialogue. The DD5.1 track is much better, with richer sounding dialogue.
Subtitles are well translated, and properly synched to the dialogue. Only one scene is not subtitled (but is subtitled on the VCD). It's a quick transition scene with text that says "4 days later"....

Unfortunately, the DVD is very slightly cut.
The final scene is shortened; The boys talk to the audience, informing us that this is the end of the movie, and to give them some appluase. Then another kid states that we are so obedient....


VCD review:
~~~~~~~
Publisher: VideoVan (Singapore) - Universe has also released a VCD
Runtime: 110 mins
Capacity: Dual Discs
Audio: International Stereo
Subtitles: Burnt-In English

Image quality is surprisingly good. Audio is also decent.
Burnt-in English subs are somewhat hard to read due to blurryness, but not too bad. Movie is spanned over two discs (the standard for VCDs). I encountered some stutter issues, but otherwise, the movie played fine.

Extras:
This is a Deluxe Edition VCD, which includes:
A "Making of" featurette is included after the movie (non-subtitled)
30% off coupon for an EZPAck of Bakkwa (expires July 2002)
A 20 page Smart Guide booklet (Tips of exams, Guide to studying smart, Parental advice, Ideas on making Math interesting, Ways to spend quality family time)


ratings:
movie: 8.5/10 (Funny and touching movie with a strong message)
VCD: 7/10 (good image quality and has behind the scenes featurette)
DVD: 7/10 (somewhat soft image with minimal extras)
jtkv is offline  
Old 10-18-02, 12:44 PM
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Try Eating Air(Hokkien:Jia-Hong!) by Kelvin Tong.

If u need help getting it, let me know....
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Old 10-18-02, 03:57 PM
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blessthemess,
I also have Money No Enough DVD next to be viewed.

I am totally intrigued by Singaporean movies now, and want to watch more... One Leg Kicking and The Tree seems to be good recomendations, and definitely Chicken Rice War...

Do you know of any online store that sells these movies, or would you buy them for me if I send you the money??


regards,
J.T.
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Old 10-26-02, 01:11 AM
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Hey JTKV!


YouGotMail on your [email protected] account. Please check!
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Old 10-29-02, 08:50 AM
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jktv, thanks for the review, especially good to know the vcd is the longer cut. Now, where to find? I also enjoyed Chicken Rice War and have heard good things about Money No Enough. cheers...dlee
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Old 10-29-02, 01:11 PM
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if u are singaporean, u will enjoy the humour more. cheers!
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Old 10-29-02, 03:20 PM
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So, is the Universe vcd the same as the DVD, i.e. the shorter version and only the Video Van vcd the longer one?

Also, have you seen Forever Fever/That's The Way I Like It yet?

Last edited by dleedlee; 10-29-02 at 03:32 PM.
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Old 10-29-02, 11:45 PM
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I can only assume that the Universe VCD is the shorter version... but really, it does not effect (joke from Money No Enough) the movie at all.

The only other Singaporan movie I have is Money No Enough, which was pretty funny too. I just have to find time to review it...

I am working on getting a bunch of Singaporean movies so hopefully, within a month or so, I'll have lots to watch and review.

Titles are:
Chicken Rice War, Forever Fever, Eating Air, Liang PoPo The Movie, One Leg Kicking, 12 Storeys, I Not Stupid Special Edition DVD, and That One Not Enough.


J.T.
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Old 10-30-02, 03:12 AM
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Feel free to contact me if you need help procuring these titles... [email protected]

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