Singapore actress Angeline Yap says she went topless in a thriller because the nudity was integral to the plot
It is a role most local actresses would shy away from but newcomer Angeline Yap has taken the plunge and appears topless in a thriller that will be screened at the Singapore International Film Festival later this month.
As femme fatale Li Er in the Mandarin thriller Lang Tong (Cantonese for "nice soup"), she is seen topless and having sex with her older sister's lover, the womanising con man Zack (William Lawandi). She also convinces him to help murder her sibling Li Ling (Vivienne Tseng), an alluring woman who makes a great pork rib soup.
The trailer which includes a scene of a man removing a pair of panties from a topless female body seen from the neck down, is already steaming up computer and mobile-phone screens.
The film makes its world premiere at the Singapore International Film Festival on Dec 13.
Yap, 27, tells Life! she stripped for the camera because the nudity was integral to the plot.
She says: "It was used to tell a story and to convey a message more clearly. To me, it's a form of art. I don't see it as sleazy.
"If it's video porn or mostly about sex with no character to the story, I won't take it up."
She adds that she took on the role to challenge herself and do something out of the norm.
"I wanted to change people's mindset about nudity being taboo. I feel that Singapore movies are too normal and too safe."
Normal and safe is what director, producer and co-writer Sam Loh, 46, wanted to throw out of the window.
Lang Tong is his take on the twisted thriller and his references include Takashi Miike's nightmare-inducing Audition (1999) and Fruit Chan's macabre Dumplings (2004).
In Audition, a young woman subjects her widower suitor to terrifying torture, and in Dumplings, the secret to eternal youth involves human foetuses.
Loh was out to push the boundaries on sex and violence and says: "If not, then everything would be the status quo all the time."
The film has been rated R21 with no cuts.
Female frontal nudity was previously seen in the short film Hush (2012) while Royston Tan's 15 (2003) and Kan Lume's Solos (2007), among others, had featured male frontal nudity.
Loh has more than 15 years of film and television directing experience and his credits include crime drama Code Of Law (2012) for Channel 5 and children's dramas for Channel 8.
He has made one other film, Outsiders (2004), about young dysfunctional Singaporeans. It was not shown in Singapore, but screened at festivals such as the Asian Film Festival in Rome.
He says: "The TV climate is very conservative so for my personal films, I want to do more self-expression, like tackling darker subjects which I can't do on TV."
Loh filmed "the most difficult" steamy scenes on the first day of shooting.
He says: "When it comes to shooting these scenes, the actors may appear very awkward and don't know where to put their hands and you have to iron those things out before you shoot. After a while, it's like work, you rehearse and block out the action."
The $500,000 film was shot over two weeks in April in a flat in Tiong Bahru.