Arts Film Preview Singapore

Film: AFA Restored presents Singaporean cult classic martial arts action films this September

Move aside Black Widow, and make way for Cleopatra Wong, Singapore’s greatest femme fatale you’ve never heard of. And this September, you can be one of the first to catch her in the Asian Film Archive’s (AFA) presentation of restored cult classic martial arts action films.

A total of two films will be screened as part of this edition of the AFA Restored series, with They Call Her… Cleopatra Wong (1978, Singapore, Philippines, Hong Kong, Bobby A. Suarez as George Richardson) and They Call Him Chop Suey (1975, Philippines, Jun Gallardo). Presented in 4K resolution, the films have been meticulously restored by the AFA. They Call Him Chop Suey was made possible using an original colour picture negative and an original English soundtrack negative. Meanwhile, the restoration of They Call Her… Cleopatra Wong took over 15 months and involved the use of multiple film elements loaned from several European film archives. 

They Call Him Chop Suey (1975) follows its protagonist Chop Suey, a kitchen assistant and fan of Bruce Lee who finds himself embroiled in a battle against an extortion gang when his aunt is unable to pay the protection fees in time. When tragedy strikes and with the lack of evidence for the police to make any arrest, Chop Suey takes matters into his own hands and fights the gang. 

Director Jun Gallardo (also known as John Gale) was born in the Philippines and began his career making martial art films in the 1970s such as Shadow of the Dragon (1973), The Games of Death (1974). They Call Him Chop Suey was inspired by the wave of martial arts films popularised by Bruce Lee.  They Call Him Chop Suey will have three screenings from 11th September to 3rd October 2021.

Producer of They Call Him Chop Suey Bobby A. Suarez (1942 – 2010), then went on to direct the cult classic They Call Her…Cleopatra Wong. The film is a boisterous, action-fueled story starring Singaporean actress Marrie Lee as Singapore’s top Interpol agent, Cleopatra Wong. Cleopatra teams up with her Filipino counterpart to bust a counterfeit currency operation that threatens several Asian countries with bankruptcy. 

Suarez’s works bring together elements of the Western spy and Asian martial arts film genres. The Cleopatra Wong character is the most famous from his works and is featured in three films – They Call Her… Cleopatra Wong (1978), Dynamite Johnson (a.k.a. Bionic Boy II) (1979), and Devil’s Angels (a.k.a. Devil’s Three) (1980). From leaping impossible walls to mastery over countless firearms and traditional weapons, all while impeccably dressed, Cleopatra Wong lives up to her Egyptian queen name origins.

They Call Her… Cleopatra Wong will have five screenings from 11th September to 6th October 2021 at Oldham Theatre, and will be accompanied by an exhibition showcase at the Oldham Theatre on They Call Her… Cleopatra Wong, featuring iconic artefacts that highlight the film’s significance in Singapore and regional film history, and its restoration process. Marrie Lee, the film’s lead actress will be present at the first screening on Saturday, 11th September at 8pm. 

They Call Him Chop Suey will have three screenings from 11th September to 3rd October 2021, while They Call Her… Cleopatra Wong will have five screenings from 11th September to 6th October 2021 at Oldham Theatre.

AFA has also produced exclusive merchandise inspired by They Call Her… Cleopatra Wong. Designed by local studio Knuckles & Notch, the limited-edition merchandise will be sold at Oldham Theatre and on AFA’s online shop. 

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