Jukebox musicals – musicals constructed out of an existing catalogue of songs – don't typically boast the strongest of plots. Most of the time, story and character have to get out of the way for yet another toe-tapping number. To some extent, this applies to Broadway smash hit Jersey Boys, which has been playing to packed houses since 2005.

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Film Review
Film Review

Brighton Rock

Synopsis: Brighton Rock embraces the classic elements of film noir and the British gangster film to tell the story of Pinkie, a desperate youth who is hell bent on clawing his way up through the ranks of organised crime.  When a young and very innocent waitress, Rose, stumbles on evidence linking him to a revenge killing, he sets out to seduce her to secure her silence.

 

Sometimes a gangster film, sometimes a romantic drama, Brighton Rock doesn`t quite know what it wants to be. It is the second adaptation of Graham Green`s 1938 novel, following a 1947 film starring Richard Attenborough.

This version transports the action to 1964, to tell the story of Pinkie (Riley), a young gangster who murders the man who killed his mentor. To cover his tracks Pinkie gets involved with Rose (Riseborough), a poor and naÃ

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David Loman å

After doing tremendous box office in Taiwan earlier this year, David Loman is tumbling into cinemas here - no doubt hoping to do similarly brisk business in Singapore. While this cheeky, cheerful film will most certainly find an audience on our shores, its reach is somewhat limited by the fact that it's, well, a very Taiwanese movie. Puns and sexual innuendos abound, most of which are heavily reliant on a good grasp of the Hokkien dialect.
In fact, even the title of the film is a pun that translates into 'big-time gangster': a name adopted by its lead character (played by Chu Ko Liang) when he moves from the country to the big city and accidentally becomes a crime boss. He soon settles into a routine of neglecting his daughter Jin (Amber Kuo) and resolving local problems in exchange for protection fees, until he's told one day by a medium that he can only avoid an imminent catastrophe if he finds someone to take his place for a few days. David accordingly does so - only for his doppelganger, fortune teller Old Ho, to meet an untimely end at the hands of mobster Pinch Junior (Kang Kang). To avenge the old man's death, David must come to terms with the former's son Xiao Ho (Tony Yang) and his own daughter Jin.



That might sound like a linear narrative, but it's really anything but. The film pings merrily from joke to joke, flinging out gags and random bits of comedy at incredibly short intervals. The priority, you will quickly discover, is not logic or character development: David Loman's goal is to wring laughs out of its audience, as many times as possible, and there's no joke too lowbrow or too ridiculous to be flung into the madcap mix.

This magpie approach to comedy - anything and everything goes, the madder the better - is bound to result in an uneven film. Which is exactly what happens. Overall, the film boasts a few sublime moments of pure silliness, especially when David and Xiao Ho undergo resilience training reminiscent of Dodgeball's 'If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball!' school of thought. But just as many (if not more) jokes miss rather than hit their targets, and some (Xiao Ho's trio of randy mistresses) are so weird it's hard to decide precisely what to think of them.

 

It's pretty evident that David Loman doesn't place much premium on its own plot, but it's still frustrating since it's peppered with hints of what the three lead actors can do. Chu, Kuo and Yang all excel at the double take and pratfall, and even add a little insight into their characters in the film's few introspective moments. But there's only so much they can do when what little emotional depth David Loman has is consistently shouldered aside in favour of bawdy, knockabout comedy. Xiao Ho - effectively the sidekick in this unconventional superhero story - isn't even allowed to register half as much grief at his father's (real) death as Jin does at her father's (fake) one.

Nevertheless, David Loman possesses a ramshackle charm of its own. As befits its name, the film almost intimidates the audience into feeling a sense of cheerful goodwill towards David and all the wacky mayhem that befalls him. It's not a great film by any stretch of the imagination, but there's quite a bit of fun to be had here.

Summary: There's more than dialogue that's lost in translation in David Loman, but it's amiable enough as a comedy.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Shawne Wang 
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