'I want to push boundaries'

'I want to push boundaries'
MM2 Entertainment chief content officer Ng Say Yong (far left) with the cast (from left) Esther Goh, Angeline Yap, director Sam Loh, Vivienne Tseng and William Lawandi.

When Mandarin erotic thriller Lang Tong opens in cinemas on Thursday, it is likely to be the most sexually explicit Singapore movie ever made by a local director and screened here.

The movie, about a womaniser who is drawn into a murder plot by the temptress sister of his lover, has had three minutes of sex scenes that were cut, including two lesbian love scenes.

Given that the uncut version of the film has more than 12 minutes of graphic sex, director Sam Loh acknowledged that some audiences might find it exploitative. But he made no apologies for it.

"My poster already says this is Singapore's most controversial film.

If people want to see it, they can. I can't control these things," said the father of a teenage daughter.

The movie premiered uncut at the Singapore International Film Festival last December.

Loh, who has more than 15 years of film and television directing experience, drew inspiration from movies such as the Japanese psychological horror-drama Audition (1999), by Takashi Miike, where a young woman subjects her widower suitor to torture.

He said: "I want to push the boundaries. Singapore might be a conservative society, but dark things do happen here too."

At a press conference yesterday, Mr Ng Say Yong, chief content officer at MM2 Entertainment, which co-produced the film, said: "It is fairly daring and we've always been supportive of directors who produce a diverse range of work.

We would like to applaud the cast and crew for producing Singapore's own erotic thriller."

In fact, the makers said there is more to come.

The $500,000 R21-rated film is slated to be the first in a trilogy of erotic thrillers.

The company is looking at casting and a script for the second film. Mr Ng, 51, said: "The third one is some time away and details will be announced at an appropriate stage."

The trilogy will be called the Femme Fatale trilogy.

The next two films, also helmed by Loh, will be called Siew Lup and Dim Sum.

Loh, 48, said: "I'm fascinated by Korean cinema, which often explores dark themes like abuse.

In this industry, it's good to have a personal brand and looking at these dark themes can be my brand."

At the press conference, most of the cast had strong reactions when asked if they would ask their family - especially their parents - to watch the film.

Said the male lead William Lawandi, 38, who has acted in HBO Asia series Serangoon Road (2013) and in various short films: "Hell no, it'll be very weird."

One of the female leads, Angeline Yap, 27, who plays the temptress sister and appears topless in the film, said: "I won't ask my parents, but I will ask my younger sister and friends.

I don't regret taking the role.

After all, it's just acting and I know I can't satisfy everybody."

Another female lead, Vivienne Tseng, 27, who is pregnant now, said she posted a comment on Facebook about the film and her father liked this post.

"Maybe he will watch it," she said light-heartedly.

Being a mother will not change how she approaches her career, she added.

"Precisely because I'm going to be a mum, I'll want to push the boundaries even further.

I have to be a role model for my child, but because of my work, there are times when I don't have to be."

Neither is she afraid of being typecast for such roles.

Said Tseng: "If people want to stereotype me, go ahead. After all, it's guaranteed work.

"And it's fun," she added with a smile.

Lang Tong opens in cinemas tomorrow


This article was first published on Mar 4, 2015.
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