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Just Follow Law


Fann Wong and Gurmit Singh
Year: 2007  
Director: Jack Neo  
  Cast: Fann Wong, Gurmit Singh, Moses Lim, Samuel Chong, Suhaimi Yusoff, Lina Ng, Krishna S/O Packiri Rethinam, Jack Neo (cameo)
  The Skinny: Filmmaker Jack Neo returns with another attempt at social commentary that's meant to tickle the audience's funny bone as well. Unfortunately, lame gags, forced drama, and repetitive critiques of Singaporean society undermine whatever strides are made by likeable co-stars Fann Wong and Gurmit Singh.
Review by Calvin McMillin:      Singaporean director Jack Neo, best known for his wildly successful local films Money No Enough and I Not Stupid returns with yet another comedy with social critique in mind. While Neo's previous films focused on topics ranging from mindlessly greedy consumerism to the nation's highly-competitive education system, Just Follow Law takes aim at the stifling rules and regulations that typify the island-nation's government, not to mention the often spineless, ineffectual civil servants who populate these agencies. Departing from his usual technique, Neo makes use of a fantastical plot device to drive his social commentary: the two main characters switch bodies. No, I'm not kidding.
     The film centers on a blue-collar worker, Lim Teng Zui (Gurmit Singh), and his boss, Tanya Chew (Fann Wong of Shanghai Knights), both of whom can't seem to get along with one another. Blaming Tanya for an unfortunate incident at work in which he was made the fall guy, Teng Zui chases after her in his car, and an accident ensues. When the two bitter enemies regain consciousness in the hospital, they find, much to their horror, that there's been a switcheroo of souls. Simply put, Tanya is walking around in Teng Zui's body and vice versa. As you may have guessed, plenty of wackiness ensues.
     Although mixing social commentary with the whole "body-swapping" angle might seem like a recipe for disaster, it's at least commendable that Jack Neo and company tried to do something different this time around, as his films always veer toward social critique. To be successful, a "message movie" must be subtle enough as not overwhelm the viewer with its pet cause, and it's no secret that good sense of humor is a great way to achieve that balance. However, the problem here is that Just Follow Law beats the viewer over the head with its supposed "satire" and the jokes fall flat more often than not.
     While it's important that the filmmakers demonstrate how Singaporeans allegedly have a tendency to blindly follow the rules, the film stages numerous, repetitive scenes to hammer this point home, each one more grating than the last. And when the film isn't being preachy, it relies on cheap jokes to pad the running time. Granted, there's nothing wrong with lowbrow humor, but very little of it has any comedic impact whatsoever. On the bright side, the film features a hapless Indian security guard named Muthu (Krishna S/O Packiri Rethinam), who turns out to be quite the scene-stealer. The character delivers perhaps the funniest line of the film (an HK film related one to boot), and proves to be a welcome presence onscreen.
     Aside from the expected comedy that results from two performers acting as if they've traded their genders, the point of Just Follow Law, as with any film of this ilk (Freaky Friday, for instance), is to basically construct a scenario in which two characters from different backgrounds "walk a mile in the other's shoes," and come to understand not only the other person but also themselves. Just Follow Law attempts to do this, but it's so wildly uneven that very few of these staged epiphanic moments have any real resonance. Sure, the music video-like "sad montage" tells us that we're supposed to empathize with the character as he/she undergoes an emotional crisis, but there's no real emotion to any of these scenes. Furthermore, characters sometimes do things that don't make a lick of sense, a repetitive storytelling oversight that proves to be frustrating even very late in the film.
     Gurmit Singh and Fann Wong make a likeable duo, and there's certainly some appeal in watching the usually demure Wong act like a complete loon. And to be completely fair, there's a particularly good bit of acting that emerges from the pair - more notably from Fann Wong - towards the end. Unfortunately, the film seems rudderless, as not only do the filmmakers seem confused as to how to properly end the movie (the alternate endings on the DVD give even more credence to this feeling), but Just Follow Law comes across as far longer than its 111 minute running time.
     That's not to say that Just Follow Law is a terrible film, it's just a bit too derivative of Neo's previous work. It's been almost ten years since Money No Enough, yet Neo's take on Singaporean politics is STILL no less amateurish or heavy-handed. Certainly, if you're an admirer of Fann Wong and Gurmit Singh, or simply have some fascination with Singaporean culture, then Just Follow Law might hold your interest. But otherwise, you'd probably be better served checking out Neo's other work first, including Money No Enough, I Not Stupid, and Homerun. (Calvin McMillin, 2007)
Availability: DVD (HK)
Region 3 PAL
INNOFORMmedia
Widescreen
Mandarin/English and Cantonese Language Tracks
Removable English, Chinese, and Malay Subtitles
Trailers, TV Spots, Making Of Featurette, Outtakes, Deleted Scenes, Alternate Endings, and Photo Gallery
   
   
 
 
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