The Diam Diam Era 2 review: Mark Lee, Wang Lei contest elections

·3-min read
Suhaimi Yusof, Mark Lee, Henry Thia (second row) and Silvarajoo Prakasam in Jack Neo film The Diam Diam Era 2. (Photo: mm2 Entertainment)
Suhaimi Yusof, Mark Lee, Henry Thia (second row) and Silvarajoo Prakasam in Jack Neo film The Diam Diam Era 2. (Photo: mm2 Entertainment)

Rating: PG13
Length: 91 minutes
Director: Jack Neo
Cast: Mark Lee, Richie Koh, Danny Lee, Meixin Macy, Henry Thia, Wang Lei, Yap Hui Xin, Regina Lin, Ryan Lian, Suhaimi Yusof, Silvarajoo Prakasam
Language: Mandarin, English and Dialect with English and Chinese subtitles

Release date: 11 February 2021 (Singapore)

2 out of 5 stars

The Diam Diam Era Two continues the story from its first part, released last November in Singapore, and zooms in on the political party C.M.I. that Ah Kun (Mark Lee), Osman (Suhaimi Yusof) and Shamugam (Silvarajoo Prakasam) formed to contest in the 1988 General Election. Despite their respective families and even kampong against them joining politics, Ah Kun and his team decide to go ahead nonetheless. Using whatever means possible, Ah Kun tries to “warm the cockles of the public’s hearts” in hopes of winning the election.

Although The Diam Diam Era Two is marketed as a Chinese New Year film, it pales heavily in comparison in terms of the comical and entertaining factors that are typical of Chinese New Year films. There are only two approaches to Chinese New Year films: you either make it ridiculously hilarious (cue Law Kar-ying’s Only You), or you have the usual jokes but with an engaging storyline — think Detective Chinatown. However, The Diam Diam Era 2 is neither here nor there.

Wang Lei (centre) in Jack Neo film The Diam Diam Era 2. (Photo: mm2 Entertainment)
Wang Lei (centre) in Jack Neo film The Diam Diam Era 2. (Photo: mm2 Entertainment)

Apart from being predictable, the plot repeatedly sees Ah Kun and his political party rambling about injustices during their campaigns, which do not provide any depth to the story. Even the jokes can be a little dry sometimes. The Singlish phrase alluded to by their political party’s name, C.M.I. – which means “Chinese, Malay, Indian” – could be used to describe the movie itself.

Furthermore, the characters are flat and monotonous, although it is refreshing to see Ryan Lian reprising his role as Ah Long. However, it does feel like he is only included in the cast for the sake of it due to his superficial role. In one scene, possibly due to bad editing or voiceover, his voice sounded starkly different, which is too difficult to not notice.

The cringeworthy editing also did not do the movie any favours. Effects were employed (e.g. turning a person greyscale and repeating lines to emphasise words) that are more common for variety shows, but should not appear in a movie. Moreover, the highlighted lines didn’t even possess as much impact as the effect warrants. When done consecutively, the effects are simply annoying.

The saving grace of the movie is perhaps Wang Lei’s horrible yet amusingly broken English, which he describes as “my Chinese little bit, English no limit.” However, as his English lines are directly translated from Hokkien, those who do not understand Hokkien would not be able to appreciate his jokes. For instance, his “In Singapore do politics walk don’t know road” is a direct translation from “kia um zai lor” in Hokkien, which means it does not pay to join politics in Singapore.

Having enjoyed the Long Long Time Ago movies and multiple works of Jack Neo, it is disappointing to say that The Diam Diam Era 2 is one of Jack Neo’s worst movies to date.

Read also:

Review: Jack Neo's Diam Diam Era bristles with anger at language policy

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