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Try to imagine this: Bruce Lee as John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. While you furrow your brow in consternation and confusion, Cranky'll describe That's The Way I Like It, which he adds to his list of required viewing for filmmaker wannabees. It's not that That's The Way I Like It is a drop everything must see flick. It's a perfectly average popcorn flick, set in Singapore during the rage of disco, back in 1977. Watching Caucasian culture/movie iconography dropped into a Chinese/Western mix yields a couple of belly laughs of recognition, one big surprise, and an attempt to toss the light comedy, "what is my place in all this?" kind of story with some fierce mob-style brutality. Luckily, the budget is so low, there are no big blood effects or shootings, just a beating or two. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Ah Hock (Adrian Pang) is just an average guy in a low paying dead end job, stocking shelves in the local grocery store. He still lives with his parents, and they lavish praise on his med student younger brother Ah Beng, who has taken the "Western" name Leslie (Caleb Goh). For the twenty-something Hock, there isn't much to do in Singapore, other than hang out with his friends at the local bowling alley or movie house, where Bruce Lee flicks run almost continually. Hock is such a Lee devotee, that he can lip-synch and hip-synch (i.e. do the moves) of every movie.
One day though, Fists of Fury is no more at the local cinema, having been replaced by some disco monstrosity called Forever Fever, an obvious knock off of Saturday Night Fever, right down to the white suit, music and camera shots. As Fever's song hits "Staying Alive," "Jive Talking," "You Should Be Dancing" and "How Deep Is Your Love" pour off the screen, something in Hock is stirred. He wants to be the disco king. He wants the hair. He wants the clothes. He wants the moves. But, most important, he wants the $5000 cash prize being given away by the local discotheque to the best dance team in the land. The cash will more than pay for the brand spanking new Triumph motorcycle sitting in the dealer's window that he passes every day on his way to work.
And I betcha thought you had seen this before; that these internal revelations would turn Hock "gay". Nope. Sorry.
Guided by his Guardian Angel (Dominic Pace as the John Travolta clone who steps out of the screen to advise Hock) he enlists gal pal Mei (Madeline Tan) to secretly take lessons with him. Mei is greatly attracted to Hock, though he's ignorant of it and has his eye on fellow student Julie (Anna Belle Francis). Julie's partner, Richard (Pierre Png) is ego-personified, totally jealous and not above having his rival beaten to a bloody pulp. There you have it, folks, enough story to fill any movie. Friendships are strained. Rivalries explode, both on the dance floor and in violence, and local family values are severely tested (which is the surprise in the film that I wrote about above, but will not spill).
Last year, Cranky blasted the disco flicks 54 and Last Days of Disco for not spending the bucks on rights to the songs that best exemplified the era. So, how does That's The Way I Like It manage all them Bee Gees tunes, plus the title, and other disco staples such as "Instant Replay," "Rock The Boat" and non-disco smash "Kung-Fu Fighting"? They bought the rights and produced imitations of the original hits. Just like K-Tel did with their record collections back in the 70s, or teevee producers like Glen Larson did on his shows in the 80s. It's just another lesson on how low budget productions can get by. For those of you who aren't filmmaker wannabees, the copies aren't so close to the bone that you can't tell the difference, but the songs are strong enough that you won't care.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to That's The Way I Like It, he would have paid...
In one word, it's "cute". A perfectly adequate rental. Had we seen anything like this before now, the rating would've been much lower. Than again, watching Bruce Lee moves in a Travolta white suit is worth the price of the rental.
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