Director Jack Neo’s latest film, Ah Girls Go Army, released in time for Chinese New Year 2022. A spin-off from the Ah Boys To Men films, Ah Girls Go Army is set in an imaginary future Singapore in which females are conscripted into the military because of the lack of males.
The producers are offering 8,888 non-fungible tokens (NFT’s) free with purchase of movie tickets – while stocks last – via a unique code during the printing out of physical tickets at Cathay Cineplexes. The Ah Girls Go Army NFTs will be redeemable via the Metaviva NFT marketplace.
For those who don’t know the synopsis:
“The story will focus on Singapore’s first batch of female recruits, a bunch of Gen Z teens with different backgrounds and education. As they undergo the demanding Basic Military Training under the fierce leadership of Sergeant Lim and Lieutenant Zhang, the girls find themselves being pushed to their physical and emotional limits. Together, they will overcome their resistance to serve National Service, face the challenges before them, and discover newfound abilities – using them to resolve and mend relationship issues in their personal life.”
The main character is played by Apple Chan who reprises her role as army officer Zhang Xinyi from Ah Boys To Men 4. Of course, you can expect cameos from the boys of Ah Boys To Men. After a round of online auditions, the team has confirmed the fresh faces to fill some of the minor roles in the film, but not without some controversy.
When transgender actress Kelly Kimberly Cheong revealed her character in the movie as “Amanda Man”, some netizens questioned the meaning behind the name, saying it could be a potential jab at Kelly. Responding to these netizens, Jack Ma has himself come forward to apologise, saying that “Amanda” was not a trans character, but a cisgender female tomboy, and Kelly was selected for this role for her fighting ability (she’s trained in martial arts), not her gender identity.
This film has an ambitious timeline – there’s only 4 months left to CNY 2022. However, Jack says it’s manageable since the script has been given and shooting is expected to last 25 days. He expects filming to wrap by 25 November and post-production to be completed by January.
Women & NS: a perennial discussion
The National Service (NS) is a topic that can fuel any conversation in Singapore – as evidenced by the four films Jack has released – and the biggest hot button topic often comes to questions of “should women serve?“
For Jack, the making of Ah Girls Go Army was to explore the idea of women in NS. “We know that the birth rate of our society is dropping each year. Can our Singaporean women step up to the challenge of defending our nation, the same as we ask of our men?”
Whether or not this is a challenge to see if women are physically fit enough to fight alongside the men, or simply as a jibe at how it’s a “woman’s challenge” to reproduce remains to be seen.
A logical – and more hilarious – point would be to see if men can get over the fact that they’ve done NS.
Many local filmgoers simply wonder why it’s always Jack Neo (and Ah Boys To Men), and want more diversity in local films. It’s not like Singapore doesn’t produce great films or that we don’t have great filmmakers – in fact, there’s been quite a number of Singaporean-produced films that have won awards at prestigious film festivals like Sundance and Cannes. Here are just a few critically-acclaimed films you can watch.
Of course, the idea of making a film exploring the idea of women in NS isn’t new. Check out this 2015 comedy short film: