Neo: Ah Boys Part 2 may break record

Jack Neo

SINGAPORE - Fuelled by the success of Ah Boys To Men Part 1, Jack Neo is expecting Part 2 to break records.

In fact, the director is anticipating the second instalment of his film, which opens tomorrow, to "do much better than the first one".

Ah Boys To Men Part 1, which opened on Nov 8 last year, is Singapore's top-grossing home-grown movie, with $6.2 million in takings.

During yesterday's press conference, Neo said: "I anticipate that Part 2 will do much better than the first one and I hope that we will hit $7 million this time."

Indeed, in anticipation of its success, the cast held a raucous lo hei session after the media conference yesterday.

Tasked to commemorate the 45th anniversary of national service, a uniquely Singaporean rite of passage, a beaming Neo said that he is "extremely proud" of the outcome of his movie.

The 57-year-old revealed that he plans to explore more army-themed movies, adding that he may consider making a film about the Officer Cadet School (OCS).

Reflecting on Ah Boys To Men's two-part release, Neo said that his future films will not be released in a multi-part form, such as a trilogy.

He explained that, if the first movie does not perform, there will be a lot of pressure on the next instalments and the "risk is too high".

He went on to address criticisms over the choice of first-time actors, who starred in the movie as recruits going through Basic Military Training (BMT) on Pulau Tekong.

Despite their lack of acting experience, Neo was adamant that he was extremely satisfied with their performances.

"They are constantly willing to learn and give new ideas," he said, adding that the actors did not crack under the pressure of helming such a big movie.

The director also responded to criticism that some of the jokes in Ah Boys To Men were sexist. He said that the jokes exist in the army and he had not made them up.

According to Neo, phrases like "take care of your wife" and "strip down your wife" are extremely common in the army, when soldiers refer to their rifles.

He stressed instead the core messages of the movie, such as camaraderie and the importance of family, and is hopeful that Singaporeans can relate to the themes.

The director also reiterated that the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) did not interfere with his creative process, and allowed him a free hand in filming.

In the movie, for instance, recruits are filmed smuggling bak kwa into camp during BMT, despite clearly not being allowed to do so.

However, Neo revealed that he was given permission by Mindef to include this, as such misdemeanours do happen.

By giving moviegoers a first-hand look at BMT on Pulau Tekong, Neo hopes that his two-part movie will be an eye-opener, helping Singaporean families to understand what every Singaporean son has to go through.

Ah Boys To Men Part 2 opens in cinemas tomorrow.

"I anticipate that Part 2 will do much better than the first one and I hope that we will hit $7 million this time."

Director Jack Neo

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