3 Aug – Next Chinese New Year, fans of director Ryon Lee's work will be treated to a brand-new movie called "Small Town Heroes".
It was announced at a press conference held recently that the movie, which will be made on a roughly RM2.1 million budget, has officially begun shooting and that its production, from pre to post, will be done fully in Malaysia.
Interestingly, a love story highlighted in the movie serves as a tribute to Yasmin Ahmad's "Sepet". Lee revealed that he's always liked the late filmmaker's iconic film, hence his reason for inserting a love story between a Chinese boy and a Malay girl in the upcoming movie.
Yuan Teng, a Malaysian actor who won the 22nd Shanghai International Film Festival-Asian Newcomer Award and chosen by Lee for his monolid eyes, and Layla Sania, a Malay singer well known for her proficiency in Mandarin, will pair up as the romantic couple Wong Guo Qing and Aisyah.
"Director Lee said the character is a tribute to Guo Jing in "The Legend of the Condor Heroes" by Jin Yong," said Yuan Teng of his fruit stall owner character, whom he described as righteous, though naïve at times, and likes to act tough in front of someone he likes.
"I am excited when I know that I will be part of the movie, this is my first Chinese New Year film, finally. After reading the script and looking at the list of the stars, I can tell that it will be fun, I really want to start shooting as soon as possible," he added.
A collaboration between Sunstrong Entertainment and Lomo Pictures, "Small Town Heroes" is adapted from Lee's own semi-autobiographical stage play, "Those Were the Days".
"The story development will be driven by two kids, I want to take the audiences back to my childhood, places I lived, recall memories and the good things about Malaysia in those days," said Lee.
The movie follows Hero (Roger), who moves from the city to the Xingfuyuan orphanage in the countryside. He befriends Ah Feng (Chandler), who loves martial arts novels, and Aisyah, who wants to become a wrestler. The three of them embark on a journey to look for Hero's family when his mother fails to pick him up as planned.
Also part of the cast is Jack Lim in his first collaboration with Lee. He plays a bold but attentive delivery driver who's lost his children and has a love-hate relationship with Guo Qing as he loves teasing Guo Qing's crush, Aisyah.
Meanwhile, singer-actor Eric Lin makes his first movie appearance in five years in a special cameo as Kimchi, who grew up in the Xingfuyuan orphanage and as an adult, occasionally returns to help out in the kitchen.
Jment Lim, who serves as producer alongside executive producer Aron Koh, also promised that 30% of the movie's box office collection will be donated to charity.