- Homerun (film)
name = Homerun
Chan Pui Yin
writer = Jack Neo
Huang Wenyong Xiang Yun Shawn Lee Megan Zheng
Redwan Ali Li Yi
MediaCorp Raintree Pictures
7 August 2003
runtime = 108 min.
Golden Horse Award, Best New Performer
language = Chinese
"Homerun" (Chinese: 跑吧！孩子
pinyin: pǎo bà hái zǐ) is a 2002 Singaporean film. A remake of the award-winning Iranian film " Children of Heaven", "Homerun" is a comedy about two poor siblings and their adventures over a lost pairs of shoes. The movie emphasises the importance of friends and kinship. Set in 1965, the year Singapore separated from Malaysia, the film satirises political relations between the two countries, leading to its banning in Malaysia.
The movie was written and directed by acclaimed Singaporean film-maker
Jack Neo, and produced by MediaCorp Raintree Pictures. It stars Huang Wenyong, Xiang Yun, Shawn Leeand Megan Zheng. Filming took place in the rural outskirts of Kuala Lumpurduring November and December 2002, but post-production delays pushed back the film's release date.
Released in cinemas on 7 August 2003, "Homerun" grossed over
S$2.3 million during its nine-week box officerun. It was nominated for two awards at the 2003 Golden Horse Awards; Megan Zheng, then 10, became the first Singaporean to win a Golden Horse. Generally, however, critical reception of the movie was mixed.
Set in 1965, the film's storyline revolves around the lives, family and friends of two poor
Singaporean children, Chew Kiat Kun ( Shawn Lee) and his younger sister Seow Fang ( Megan Zheng). With their father ( Huang Wenyong) in debt to a local rice merchant ( Richard Low), and their mother ( Xiang Yun) late in her third pregnancy, the family struggles to make ends meet. The children make the best of what little they have, while their father works long hours doing odd jobs.
The family's problems are compounded when Kiat Kun accidentally loses Seow Fang's only pair of
shoesafter taking them to be repaired. The children conduct a frantic search but find nothing; a karung guni man had claimed the shoes as unwanted rubbish. The Chew siblings are frustrated by the situation until their father inspires Kiat Kun to share his shoes with his sister, trading off between classes so they can both attend school. Unfortunately, this plan brings additional problems: Seow Fang is chastised for wearing oversized shoes to school, while Kiat Kun is repeatedly late as he must wait for his sister to exchange shoes with him.
At school, a wealthy schoolmate of Kiat Kun's named Tan Beng Soon (
Joshua Ang) runs a football team with his friends. Kiat Kun and his friends strike a bargain with Beng Soon to play on the team using the other boys' football shoes, in exchange for helping them cheat on their homework. However, the boys quarrel, causing an angry Beng Soon to renege on the deal and remove Kiat Kun and his friends from the team.
Without their assistance, Beng Soon and his friends are punished for producing substandard homework. Although the boys try to resolve their differences, they eventually give up on reaching an agreement. Beng Soon's grades continue to fall, and his parents decide to send him to study in England.
Meanwhile, Seow Fang sees her classmate wearing her lost shoes to school. She and Kiat Kun follow the girl home, but after realising her father is blind, they decide not to reclaim the shoes. However, a few days later, Seow Fang notices that her classmate is wearing a new pair; upon confronting her, she discovers that the girl has discarded the old pair at the
kampungrubbish dump. The Chew siblings frantically search the rubbish dump for her shoes, but only discover them as they are destroyed during a trade unionist riot.
Kiat Kun is dejected until he learns that the third prize in the 1965 National Primary School Cross Country Competition is a pair of shoes. Because he was sick on the day his school selected representatives for the race, he pleads with his P.E. teacher to let him enter. The teacher, initially reluctant, relents when Kiat Kun rushes to get his cough medicine, demonstrating his running ability. As the competition begins, Kiat Kun notices that Beng Soon is also participating.
Once the starting gun fires, Kiat Kun pushes himself to the limit and eventually establishes himself among the lead runners. Kiat Kun appears assured of third place, but trips on a stone and finishes first; Beng Soon ends the race in third place. While Kiat Kun is running, Mrs Chew goes into labour, forcing Seow Fang to run across a long path littered with broken glass to find a midwife. Finally, Mrs Chew gives birth to a healthy baby boy and Beng Soon gives Kiat Kun and Seow Fang new pairs of shoes before going to study in England.
Production and distribution
While watching the Iranian movie "
Children of Heaven", Singaporean filmmaker Jack Neoand his wife were moved to "holding hands and crying after seeing the love shared by the children".cite news | last = Ho| first = Karl| title =Neo kidding| publisher = " The Straits Times"| date = 2003-08-06] cite news | last = Ho| first = Karl| title =Jack as court jester| publisher = " The Straits Times"| date = 2002-01-31] "Children of Heaven" inspired Neo to explore issues faced by Singaporean youths in his 2002 film " I Not Stupid". Following the success of "I Not Stupid", he decided to adapt "Children of Heaven" to a 1960s Singaporean kampungsetting, to emphasise the messages of friendship and kinship.cite news | last = Xinyi| first = Hong| coauthors = | title = Score a Homerun| publisher = " The Straits Times"| date = 2003-07-17]
"Homerun" was produced by
MediaCorp Raintree Pictureson a budget of S$1.5 million.cite web| title = List of Singaporean Movies (1991-2006)| publisher = Singaporean Film Commission| month = December | year = 2006| url = http://www.sfc.org.sg/docs/1991to2006.pdf| format = Titus Hoas executive producer; Chan Pui Yinand Daniel Yunas producers; Kane Chenas cinematographerand Lawrence Angas film editor.cite web| title = Homerun — Cast and Credits | publisher = Yahoo! Movies| url = http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1809420555/cast | accessdate = 2008-04-05] [cite web| title = Pao Ba Haizi - Cast, Crew, Director, and Awards| publisher = New York Times| url = http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/303922/Homerun/details| accessdate = 2008-04-06] In addition to writing and directing, Neo also composed the theme song, which was sung by Xu Meixian. [cite web| title = Homerun - The Movie | publisher = J Team Productions| url = http://web.archive.org/web/20061208171826/www.homerunthemovie.com.sg/eng/music/song.asp| accessdate = 2008-03-08 ]
Filming took place in the rural outskirts of
Kuala Lumpurduring November and December 2002. The cast endured a rigorous schedule, including extensive travel times to the filming location and many running scenes. [cite news | title = Homerun to debut in Hong Kong on December 4th| publisher = " Channel NewsAsia"| date = 2003-12-01 ] The child actors' school commitments made the planning of reshoots difficult; moreover, the production team decided to delay post-production work in Thailanddue to the SARSoutbreak. [cite news | title = No Homerun yet for Neo| publisher = "The Sunday Times" | date = 2003-04-13]
On 7 August 2003, distributor
United International Picturesreleased "Homerun" in 37 theatres, at the time a record for a Singaporean film. "Homerun's" worldwide theatrical distribution was carried out by the production company, Raintree Pictures, while the Hong Kongscreenings were carried out by Golden Scenefollowing their previous success with " I Not Stupid". [cite news | title = Raintree's latest film to be distributed in Hong Kong| publisher = Asia Image| date = 2003-09| url = http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb3270/is_200309/ai_n7968608| accessdate = 2008-04-05 ] A Chinese languageversion was released as both a two-disc VCDand one-disc DVDby Panorama Entertainment, one the of the Hong Kong-based "mainstays" of independent film distribution. [cite web| title = Catalog - Homerun| publisher = Panorama Entertainment| year = 2008| url = http://www.panorama.com.hk/en/catalog.php?category=all&pageno=0&keyword=Homerun&catno=PANCD401025te|accessdate = 2008-04-05 ] cite web| last = Kan| first = Wendy| title = Indies struggle for more slots| publisher = Variety| date = 2003-02-16| url = http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117880622.html?categoryid=1430&cs=1| accessdate = 2008-04-05 ]
The main characters were played by the following actors: [cite web| title = Homerun - The Movie| publisher = J Team Productions| year = 2003| url = http://web.archive.org/web/20060719230301/www.homerunthemovie.com.sg/eng/movie/actor.asp| accessdate = 2007-12-24]
Shawn Leeas Chew Kiat Kun
Megan Zhengas Chew Seow Fang
Joshua Angas Tan Beng Soon
Huang Wenyongas Mr. Chew
Xiang Yunas Mrs. Chew
Elements of "Homerun" compare and contrast Singapore's situations in 1965 and in 2003. For example, while Mrs Chew is giving birth,
Lee Kuan Yew's voice can be heard on a radio in the background, announcing Singapore's separation from Malaysia.cite web| first = Stephanie| title = Homerun as history| publisher = The History Workroom| date = 2007-06-11| url = http://historyworkroom.com/?p=23| accessdate = 2008-03-08 ] Other events in the movie parallel those in Singapore's history, such as the riot at the rubbish dump alluding to the labour strikes and riots of the 1960s, as well as the threat of terrorismin the new millennium. One of Kiat Kun's friends is nicknamed " Little Red Dot",cite web| last = Hsiang| first = Wong Lung| coauthors = Soh Yun-Huei| title = Homerun| publisher = Films Asia| url = http://www.filmsasia.net/gpage155.html| accessdate = 2008-03-08] a phrase used by former Indonesian president Jusuf Habibieto disparage Singapore. [cite web| title = Sound relations with Malaysia vital, says Hsien Loong| publisher = Utusan Online| date = 2003-05-03| url = http://pgoh13.free.fr/spore_vital.html| accessdate = 2008-03-08 ] The final scene in the movie shows the Chew siblings standing before a long muddy path, which symbolises the uncertainly faced by both the newly independent nation in 1965 and the country in transition in 2003.
A number of scenes in "Homerun" contain references to political disputes between Singapore and
Malaysia. The water dispute is portrayed by Kiat Kun (Singapore) quarrelling with Beng Soon (Malaysia) over the right to draw water from the kampung well.cite news | title = Homerun producers hope movie will be screened intact in Malaysia| publisher = " Channel NewsAsia"| date = 2003-09-03] cite news | title = Malaysia to ban Jack Neo's Homerun| publisher = "The Sunday Times"| date = 2003-09-14] cite news | last = Ho| first = Karl| title = No need to ban Homerun| publisher = " The Straits Times"| date = 2003-09-17] In another scene, one of Kiat Kun's friends produces a sheet of paper with details of the deal Beng Soon reneged on, prompting one of Beng Soon's friends to remark that this was like "writing a letter to a girlfriend and revealing it to the world". This echoes a comment made by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad, comparing Singapore's disclosure of letters between the two countries to "revealing letters sent to one's girlfriend". When asked about the references, Jack Neo said: "I'll leave this to the audience's imagination".
On 12 September 2003, Malaysian censors announced their decision to ban the screening of "Homerun" in Malaysia,cite news | title = KL SLAPS BAN ON S'PORE'S HOMERUN| publisher = "Bernama Daily"| date = 2003-09-13 ] citing scenes which "are easily interpreted by some Malaysian audiences' [sic] as containing political elements related to current issues". Raintree filed an appeal, arguing that the positive messages in the film were more salient than the political satire, but it was unsuccessful. Malaysian moviegoers polled by "
Life!" and the " China Press" expressed disappointment with the ban, calling it "unnecessary" and stated a desire to watch the film via pirated VCD.
S$110,300 from sneak previews, "Homerun" made S$610,400 over the National Day weekend, achieving the most successful opening weekend for a local film. [cite news | title = Neo scores Homerun| publisher = " The Straits Times"| date = 2003-08-12 ] It rose to the top of the local box office, beating American blockbusters such as "". In total, the movie grossed more than S$2.3 million over nine weeks of screenings, the second longest box office run for the year. [cite news | title = Local movie 'Homerun' season to end on 8 October after successful 9-week run| publisher = " Channel NewsAsia"| date = 2003-10-033 October 2003]
The movie won several awards, including the Grand Prix Prize at the 2003
Golden Swan Awards, [cite news | last = Foong | first = Woei Wan| coauthors = | title = Moscow film festival honours Neo's film| publisher = " The Straits Times"| date = 2004-01-03 ] the Golden Butterfly Prize for Best Direction at the Isfahan International Children's Film Festival, and a trio (Best Director, Best Newcomer, and People's Choice Award) at the Montreal Film Festival. [cite news | title = MediaCorp's 'Homerun' movie wins award at Montreal film festival | publisher = " Channel NewsAsia"| date = 2005-03-05 ] [cite news | title = Homerun's 18-month winning streak| publisher = "TODAY"| date = 2005-03-09] [cite web| last = Chan| first = Danny| title = The King of Singapore Cinema| publisher = OnScreenAsia| date = 2007-01-01| url = http://www.onscreenasia.com/article-589-thekingofsingaporecinema-onscreenasia.html| accessdate = 2008-04-05 ] It also received two nominations at the 2003 Golden Horse Awards, for Best Theme Song (拥有) and Best New Performer. [cite news | title = Homerun in the running| publisher = " Channel NewsAsia"| date = 2003-10-31] Megan Zheng, then 10 years old, became the first Singaporean to win a Golden Horse Award, sharing her Best New Performer award with Wang Baoqiangof " Blind Shaft". [cite web| title = Winners of the 40th Golden Horse Awards Competition (2003)| publisher = Golden Horse Awards Competition| year = 2007| url = http://www.goldenhorse.org.tw/gh_main/gh/gh-e-6.aspx?year=2003| accessdate = 2008-03-09] [cite news | title = 'Homerun' wins first-ever Golden Horse award for Singapore| publisher = " Channel NewsAsia"| date = 2003-12-13] [cite news | last = Foong| first = Woei Wan| title = Megan scores Homerun| publisher = "The Sunday Times"| date = 2003-12-14]
Critical reception of "Homerun" was mixed. Sanjuro of LoveHKFilm.com wrote that the movie "succeeds in delivering a relatively simple, intimate story that should prove moving for even the most jaded audience", [cite web| first = Sanjuro | title = Homerun (Singapore 2003)| publisher = LoveHKFilm| year = 2005| url = http://lovehkfilm.com/panasia/homerun.htm| accessdate = 2008-03-09] while Nick England of the San Diego Asian Film Foundation described "Homerun" as "a film with certain beauteous qualities that we can genuinely enjoy, but end up choking on when it is all over with". [cite web| last = England| first = Nick | title = 'Homerun' a solid double but no dinger| publisher = San Diego Asian Film Foundation| url = http://www.sdaff.org/features_view.php?news_id=83| accessdate = 2008-03-09] In contrast, FilmsAsia reviewer Soh Yun-Huei panned its use of political satire, which she felt " [causes] the film to be devoid of innocence and replaced with a sense of agenda and manipulation".
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20060719022158/www.homerunthemovie.com.sg/eng/index.asp Official site (archive)] zh icon
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