SINGAPORE – By now, it is almost a tradition that Chinese New Year brings the release of a new Jack Neo movie. Next year is no exception, and this time, the movie will centre on something Singaporeans love – durians.
The Singaporean director announced his new film, The King Of Musang King, on Thursday. He spoke to local media over a Zoom interview from Malaysia, where it is now in production. Cast members Mark Lee, Yeo Yann Yann and Glenn Yong joined in on the call. The movie will also feature actors Henry Thia and Xixi Lim.
Neo said: “Many people enjoy durians, but do not know where Musang King comes from. So in this movie, everyone will get to understand the processes and business model through which durians reach us in Singapore.”
In the film, Yeo plays Mei Lian, a Malaysian woman who is dumped by her husband Jin Shui (played by Lee) for a Vietnamese woman. She continues to tend to a durian plantation left to her by her late father while single-handedly raising three children, one of whom is played by Yong.
Mei Lian develops feelings for her childhood friend Mao Shan (played by Neo), who has been a secret admirer of hers over the years. But in a twist of events, Jin Shui returns to the durian plantation when he realises his Vietnamese love interest was only after his money.
Neo said the movie will feature the closeness of family and the effort required to cultivate durians. Filming will take place in the town of Raub, in the state of Pahang, which is known as one of the top producers of the fruit.
“I visited lots of durian farms – big and small – before finding this filming location, and I promise to bring the most beautiful scenes of Mao Shan Wang durians here.”
The film-maker added that although the entire cast loves durians, they were prevented from eating them on set as the fruit were considered props.
He said: “It is not durian season, so the durians we managed to find are very precious.”
Yeo, however, found a way to circumvent this rule – by adding her own scenes.
She said: “The team said I could not eat the durians because we do not have enough props. But I could not take it, because it is fresh and the smell is pungent. A durian is something I cannot resist.”
She added: “When I added my own scene, nobody dared to scold me.”
The film is the first time Neo, Lee and Thia are acting together since Money No Enough 2 (2008).
Neo said: “I have typically approached movies as a director, not an actor. This time, I took part because the role was so good. My feeling is that audiences who love seeing us act together will support us.”
During the interview, Lee clarified some comments which he made in August on reality talent hunt competition The Star Voice.
He had said Neo’s recent works have not shown much improvement because he had been holding back on giving Neo feedback.
Lee said his comment was a joke. “I felt the media took the comment very seriously.”
He added that he and Neo have a close working relationship, one in which they give each other feedback. “Even in my show, he (Neo) sometimes tells me how I should act. All these years, we have supported each other in this way.
“The best thing about working with him (Neo) is that everyone can collaborate and discuss ideas openly.”