More bonding for Ah Boys

The young recruits in Ah Boys To Men will be interacting with one another a lot more in Part 2 of Jack Neo's filmic ode to national service.

At a press conference yesterday at Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, the director, 52, said: "We've got a lot of feedback from fans who say that there were not enough scenes of the boys during their army training.

"Well, in Part 2, the whole film will actually be about the boys as they bond, go through misunderstandings, fight with one another, and then finally resolve to become a united team. The drama aspect between the boys will be a lot more meaty."

Neo then screened the movie trailer, which showed the recruits arguing over girls, getting into fistfights and also on road marches. The trailer is not available online yet, but will be up "very soon", he says.

Ah Boys To Men is a $3-million movie, split in two parts, which tells the antics of a group of boys going through national service. Part 1 is still showing in cinemas, while Part 2 will be released on Feb 1 next year.

Also at the press event were the movie's main cast of young talents, all of whom are newcomers. They include Joshua Tan, 22; Tosh Zhang, 23; Noah Yap, 19; Maxi Lim, 25; and Wang Wei Liang, 25.

Everyone was clearly in a good mood, cheerily bantering and poking fun at one another.

There is at least one reason for their excellent mood: Ah Boys To Men - Part 1 has become the highest-grossing Singapore film of all time.

It beat a 14-year record held by Money No Enough (1998), which was also written and produced by Neo.

As of Thursday night, Ah Boys To Men - Part 1 has made $6.06 million. The previous record held by Money No Enough had been $6.02 million.

The new movie's cast, along with its director and producers, then came together to take whacks at a large ice sculpture in the shape of "6000000" - or 6 million - to celebrate the record-breaking feat.

Mr Lim Teck, 36, managing director of distribution and production company Clover Films, said: "I always had a feeling that the movie would cross the $6-million mark, but I thought it would have to take two movies together to make that much. So for only Part 1 of the film to have already done so well, we're all very happy."

Actor Tan, who plays the film's male lead Recruit Ken Chow, said: "I did not have a lot of expectations about the film, but as soon as I heard that it was doing quite well at the box office, I was like heng ah. I already felt so lucky to be picked to act in a film by Jack Neo, but to act in a record-breaking show is really amazing."

Heng ah means "that is fortunate" in Hokkien.

The young actors also had something else to cheer about: They now have many fans - mostly teenage girls.

The main actors have fan clubs of their own, and devoted fan girls post a constant stream of photos and encouraging comments on these fan clubs' Twitter and Facebook pages.

Zhang's fan club, for example, is named Intoshicated - a play on his first name, Tosh. It has more than 1,200 members.

Tan, whose club is called Joshicated, has 900 fans. Wang, who plays character Lobang in the movie, has a 1,135-member fan club called Lobangisation.

Tan recalled how a group of female fans camped overnight at Changi Airport in order to see the actors off at 5am.

They were catching a 7am flight to Kuala Lumpur to promote the movie. "It was very touching," he said.

Wang added that he has even received a scrapbook filled with photos documenting his public apperances, as well as stills of him from the film.

Filming for both movies wrapped in September. The cast said they miss those days already.

Zhang, who plays platoon seargeant Ong, said: "We all became good friends and constantly keep in touch and meet up, but we really miss the days of filming together as well."

Yap, who plays recruit I.P. Man, said: "I really wish that Jack Neo would consider filming a Part 3 as well. We all had too much fun filming and hanging out together."

yipwy@sph.com.sg

Ah Boys To Men - Part 1 is now showing in cinemas. Ah Boys To Men - Part 2 will be out on Feb 1.


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