‘Ah Boys to Men Part 2’: A perfect salute
Rating: 2 stars out of 5
The first instalment of ‘Ah Boys to Men’ was a box-office hit, steamrolling its way to a S$6.2 million, a record for a Singapore film. Jack Neo continues with what might be the longest PSA ever made with part 2, as the film marches on to its end.
Also read: ‘Ah Boys to Men Part 1’ review
At the end of the first movie, the focus was on unwilling recruit Ken Chow (Joshua Tan). After inducing a heat stroke, his father has a stroke when he hears. Now Ken is repentant and determined to do his best in his BMT. Ken turns on a new leaf and becomes super gung ho enough to compete with the super-on Aloysius (Maxi Lim). Unlike the first movie, the focus is more spread out amongst the recruits, and there's a little more on IP Man (Noah Yap) and Lo Bang (Wang Weiliang).
As expected, you'll find a segment dedicated to BMT markers such as the route march, field camp and grenade training. There's not much new, and Jack doesn't really bother with what's been done before. The only nods to the new Army are an emphasis on less rigorous training, and the power of mums in helping recruits have an easier time during BMT.
Jack tries to inject drama into certain scenes with overpowering pieces of music, but it's hard to imbibe much drama into mock combat sequences. The climatic fight turns out to be a showdown with some CG wild boar, who turn out to be pushovers.
Some of the humour does manage to hit the mark, but most of it is pedestrian. The issue of IP Man breaking up with his girlfriend takes up a whole subplot, culminating in some shit-flinging and repercussions for the NSmen.
The film's strongest point is the young cast, and with less emphasis on Ken, the other recruits have a greater chance to shine. Wang Wei Liang and Noah Yap are both talented, and their characters far more interesting than the single minded Ken and Aloysius that were strongly featured in the first part.
There isn't a big special effects scene like in the first movie, which turned out to be a computer game simulation. There is a bizarre simulated invasion of a food court, which is much more low-key.
The film exhibits the obligatory preachiness that often accompanies a Jack Neo film. Not just in advocating NS, but also a strong anti-smoking message. The movie feels overlong at almost two hours, and the film putters to the end with the expected BMT graduation and the boys learning some life lessons.
As the graduating recruits have their BMT graduation at Marina Bay, the camera angles give the odd feeling that they're guarding the casino at Marina Bay Sands. Undoubtedly, this film will also strike it rich at the box office for Jack.