Ah Boys To Men... to commercials

SINGAPORE - Is Jack Neo's Ah Boys To Men just one big ad for the Ministry of Defence (Mindef)?

After all, Mindef had approached Neo with a proposal - to turn the 2010 documentary, Every Singaporean Son, into a movie.

The goal? To commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Singaporean rite of passage - national service (NS) - this year.

Despite the fact that the film heavily features Mindef equipment and locations, such as its Basic Military Training Centre in Pulau Tekong, Neo was adamant at a press conference yesterday that his latest movie isn't just a piece of propaganda.

He said that though he got "support" from Mindef, the government agency did not "interfere" with his creative process.

In fact, Mindef told him it would let him have a "free hand".

Neo also clarified that Mindef did not pump any money into funding the two-part movie, which cost $3 million to make and which opens tomorrow.

Neo said that "if (Mindef) had given us funding, they would have had a say" in how the script would have run, or how NS would have been presented.

He added that this wouldn't have been acceptable, since he wanted to present NS in a realistic light.

"I told them that there would be some 'damage' and that they must accept it," he said. "They said 'ok'."

Memories of National Service
Click on thumbnail to view (Photos: ST, BH)
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