Kallang Roar (2008)

Director:  Cheng Ding An
Plot:  A true story of a passionate football coach who brought glory to Singapore sport during the late 70s.

Genre:  Drama / Sport
Awards:  -
Runtime:  88min
Rating:  PG


In an earlier review, I mistook Kallang Roar to be a documentary.  Thus, I carried that assumption all the way to the cinema.  To my surprise, a couple of minutes into the feature, it struck me that I was watching Kallang Roar: The Movie

I wasn't disappointed since ultimately it was a film based mostly on true events. Kallang Roar is plain and straightforward, characteristics of a typical film product of Singapore. Cheng Ding An does not break new ground in storytelling; the writer-director chooses to take the safe route, sticking with conventional, and I would admit, rather flat filmmaking techniques to tell the story

Kallang Roar plays out like a 'rags-to-riches' drama.  Here, young football players are pushed to their limits, both in physical endurance and mental discipline, so that one day they have the qualities to represent their national team in major cup competitions. 

They are guided by an experienced and passionate coach, Uncle Choo, who is played with effort by veteran local actor Lim Kay Siu.  While they finally earn glory and respect for their nation and themselves by winning the 1977 Malaysia Cup (one of the most defining moments of Singapore sport), it is not without sweat and hardship

Kallang Roar captures (though not quite vividly) the excitement and energy of a staged football match - the roaring fans in the stands, the skillful interplay on the field, and the heated rivalry of two contesting teams.  However, the film has its share of faults.  The most observable would be the dialogue exchange between characters. 

The acting is not bad but the way the cast deliver their lines is too unnatural. The actors are obviously 'acting out the script' rather than 'immersing themselves into the roles'.  This problem has been plaguing Singapore cinema for decades.  Unless there are more Eric Khoos and Royston Tans around, I do not see it being solved in the near future. 

Kallang Roar is for viewers who do not expect much from watching a film, except probably to enjoy the feature and kill time.  It is certainly far from the best that Singapore has produced thus far. It will see limited box-office earnings as proof of that. 


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