Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Ekachai on top with romance in Singapore

Moving from the Pan-Asian horror thriller The Coffin to romance, director Ekachai Uekrongtham has scored big in cinemas in Singapore with his latest movie, The Wedding Game, a romantic comedy that stars real-life Singaporean celebrity couple Fann Wong and Christopher Lee.

It debuted over at No. 1 over the Chinese New Year holiday last weekend, topping a competing local rom-com, Love Matters by Jack Neo. In fact, Singapore's cinemas are brimming with brides, with the Kate Hudson-Anne Hathaway comedy Bride Wars also playing. Channel NewsAsia has the numbers, as does MovieXclusive. A Nutshell Review previews both movies, and has reviews too. MovieXclusive also has a review.

The script, about a celebrity couple who come to blows after they say "I do", is co-written by Ekachai, Desmond Sim and Dennis Chew. And Channel NewsAsia has more on that (it's a MediaCorp Raintree film, same parent company as CNA). it was originally called The Wedding of the Year.

For Ekachai, the commercial success is a triumph and will enable him to try more things. His background is in theater - he's done around 100 plays and musicals, but his best-known work is the musical Chang & Eng, about the original Siamese twins. He made his debut as a film director with 2003's Beautiful Boxer, a biopic of transsexual Muay Thai fighter Nong Toom. He followed that up with the arthouse examination of Singapore's Geylang red-light district, Pleasure Factory. And then last year's Pan-Asian horror thriller The Coffin (get the DVD with the original English-Thai soundtrack!).

What's next for Ekachai? The Star in Malaysia has more.

It’s clear that Ekachai tends to select projects that allow him to try different things, as favoured by some of the filmmakers he admires. “I’m inspired by Ang Lee because his movies are all quite different. I also like Sam Mendes’ work, and hope one day to do more drama.

“I also like many of the Japanese, especially the new-wave director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who has done many different genres, weird stuff, really.”

Ekachai also hailed Malaysian funnyman Saiful Apek, whom he cast in The Wedding Game after watching him in the 2006 superhero comedy Cicak Man. “To me, he’s the Jim Carrey of Malaysia. He’s good at physical comedy, which is hard to do,” raved Ekachai.

These days, the boyish-looking director shuttles between Thailand and Singapore. “But I try to spend more time in Thailand with my mother.”

So what’s next? More surprises? You bet.

The Thai guy plans to do a large-scale stage musical a la Mamma Mia! in Thai. He’s also in the process of writing some scripts while mulling over a couple of projects and hoping to squeeze in another movie. “I’d like to make another movie in Malaysia or even a Malay movie.”

Musicials are trendy in Bangkok, so I think he'll have a big success with that as well.

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