Production Talk - 'Perfect Rivals' by Fly Entertainment

Perfect Rivals 美好冤家 trailer



Based on the urban legend of 2 rival bak kwa stores, the movie is a heart-warming story about two feuding families and how their relationships become funnily complicated because of an event that happened 28 years ago...

We speak to director Han Yew Kwang for a scoop behind the scenes

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Hi Yew Kwang, what was the inspiration behind Perfect Rivals?
Perfect Rivals is actually Irene’s concept. She wanted to do a comedy about bak kwa with a strong family theme, so she got me to write the story and direct the film.


What can we anticipate from this film?
The chemistry between veteran actor Xiayu and Irene is very good. Irene’s role is very different from her previous ones. In fact, she is the serious one in this film. Mindee’s role is very unique and I really hope she leaves a strong impression on the audience. All her previous roles often left a mark. In this film, Pamelyn’s role uttered some really nasty and sarcastic words. I’m eager to find out how the audience will react to this!


Bak Kwa is the main ingredient in Perfect Rivals but chinese new year is over. How are you marketing or positioning it so that it does not feel like it's off season?
Actually, we did not emphasize Chinese new year in the film. When we originally wanted to release it during it CNY, we build on the feel good factor that will bring happiness to the audience. Now that CNY is over, I think the film still works as a stand-alone comedy.


Why the decision to shoot the entire film in Penang instead of Singapore?
We wanted to build in a strong sense of 怀旧风味 into the film. The sceneries and buildings in Penang fit the film very well.


Do share some interesting experiences you had doing this in Penang?
I look forward to having good food in Penang. Everyone has been telling me about Penang laksa. Ironically, I didn’t have a chance to eat or even think of Penang laksa when I was there. I was so busy that I basically stuff food into my mouth without really caring about what I was eating.


If there was a Yew Kwang 'brand of comedy', what would it be? And how is it expressed in Perfect Rivals?
In fact, the comedy style in Perfect Rivals is very different from my previous films. I would say it is a family comedy more than a quirky comedy. But of course there are still a few scenes which are quirkily funny, especially the shower scene which involves Mindee and the rat scene which involves Irene and Xiayu. I should not reveal too much ;)


I am curious. Irene Ang cast as a big-haired, rather glam looking towkay? Was this role made for her? What can the audience expect from her?
Well, we wanted to bring her age up so that she matches the veteran Xiayu better. The big hair helps. Yes, I wanted to create a quiet role for her. She used to play loud roles like PCK’s Rosie. So for a change, I thought the audience will be surprised to see a quiet and “pretentious” Irene.


Perfect Rivals features a stellar cast of international actors. How was it working with this very experienced cast as compared to your previous films?
Well, the international cast are very professional. They are very serious even during rehearsals. During rehearsals, it is basically about trying new things with them, getting the right “choices”.
Whereas when I shoot “When Hainan Meets Teochew”, I focus on getting the right and comfortable performance from the 2 non-actors, communicating and explaining to them the scene and why and how their characters should react.


Can we expect veteran Hong Kong actor, Ha Yu, to speak Singlish?
Haha, he can’t but he tried. He said one line “I don’t know what the you say!” It is not exactly Singlish but it has the comic effect of Singlish. I laughed on set when he said this and also while editing the scene.


What were the biggest challenges making this film?
Time constraint. The script is a little long and we needed to shoot a lot of stuff within 21 days. Due to the cast’s tight schedule, we only had 1 off day and we had to spend that off day doing recce! Phew, it was extremely tiring.


What is the total budget for the film? And was it difficult raising the funds for this film?
I think it is between 700-800K. SFC funded half the film and the rest of the funding came from Fly entertainment and a few Malaysian distribution and production companies. Basically, Fly entertainment did all the fund raising.


Any last words you'd like to share on Perfect Rivals?
Well, I’m eager to see how the mainstream audiences and followers of my previous films would react to this film. I think I’ve made a different film and it is important for my journey as a filmmaker. Finally, I hope that lots of people would buy a ticket to catch this film! ☺


Perfect Rivals is now showing in theaters

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Images courtesy of Fly Entertainment

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