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15 (2003)

Cast: Erick Chun, Erick Chun, Shaun Tan, more...
Director: Royston Tan, Royston Tan
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Picture This
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Southeast Asia
Running Time: 90 min.
Languages: Mandarin
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
    see additional details...

15, the debut feature from writer/director Royston Tan, takes a loosely plotted look at the lives of some unruly teens in Singapore. Melvin (Melvin Chen) and Vynn (Vynn Soh) are best friends who spend a lot of their time cutting school and watching porn together. Melvin is worried about passing his exams because his mother has threatened to throw him out if he fails. Vynn still feels bitterness over the dissolution of his friendship with Shaun (Shaun Tan), who abandoned his former friends when he became more involved in gang life. The two boys also devote some time to working on a scandalous musical number to perform at a school assembly. The second half of the film focuses on Shaun and his friend Erick (Erick Chun). First a former rival, Armani (Melvin Lee), helps them out when they're attacked by a gang of snotty, English-speaking schoolboys. In exchange, they devote a couple of days to helping the suicidal Armani find a suitable building from which to jump. Shaun and Erick also engage in drug smuggling, and Shaun helps Erick pierce his cheek. 15 was based on an earlier short film by Tan, who used the boys' own stories to help shape his narrative. The film created a lot of controversy in its native Singapore and inspired Tan to make Cut, a satirical short film celebrating censorship. 15 was shown at the 2004 New York Asian American International Film Festival. ~ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Singing the Non-Praises of Singapore by talltale December 11, 2005 - 5:31 PM PST
2 out of 3 members found this review helpful
Singapore, the land of economic opportunity and caning, can now add moviemaking to its list of quasi-accomplishments, if a fellow named Royston Tan's "15" is to be believed. I've witnessed "disaffected youth" movies from America, Britain (and its provinces), Thailand, Korea, Hong Kong, China, Japan, and all over Europe and Scandinavia, and this counts among the more colorful, palette-wise, and also the one that can find almost nothing worthwhile in its own culture. Scenes of gang attacks (speeded-up for cartoon effect) alternate with those of tattooing/piercing and drug-use-cum-vomiting (then conversing with a trash can: an original touch).

The funniest moments arrive with a charming cartoon assessing various manner of suicide. Sound effects figure interestingly, as well: The boys are walking along when--thud!--and they wheel around to see (whoops, no spoilers here!). You might presume that "15" was banned on its home turf for showing drugs, violence and the male reproductive organ, but these are most likely excuses for the real reason: its presentation of Singapore as an uncaring, vile and loveless place. In its way, oddly enough, "15" is a love story, but one that takes an awfully long time to rev up. You'll have to be satisfied with that color, some pretty fair performances, and the chance to see a movie made in caning country. Good luck.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.64)
14 Votes
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