Ah Boys to Men 4 (新兵正传IV) Movie Review

Ah Boys to Men 4 Poster

Ah Boys to Men 4 (新兵正传IV) Movie Review | by The Epiphany Duplet

Recommended Audience: Fans of Tosh Zhang, Wang Weiliang, Joshua Tan, Maxi Lim, Noah Yap, Apple Chan, Jack Neo and ABTM/comedy movie fans

Ah Boys to Men 4 Poster

Ah Boys to Men 4 (新兵正传IV) Movie Synopsis

After leaving the military, Lobang, Wayang King, Sergeant Ong, and Ken Chow are all busy with their respective career as civilians. That’s until they are called back to serve the nation again under the Singapore Armed Forces’ Armoured Formation. Now they must juggle between work and their reservist duties. What hilarious situations will happen as they train together and their military roles are reversed? There’ll be new enemy threats and their brotherhood will be put to the test.

Ah Boys to Men 4 (新兵正传IV) Viewer Rating: 2.5/5 ***

Ah Boys to Men 4 (新兵正传IV) Movie Review:

Tiffany Yong: The first Ah Boys to Men (ABTM) film was released in late 2012 and ever since then, the ‘ah boys’ had garnered an increasingly large fan base as the franchise moved into the 4th instalment this year. Looking back at Ah Boys to Men 3: Frogmen, I realised that ABTM series is a lot like the current trending films in China (Think Jet Li and Fan Bingbing’s League of Gods 3D封神榜, He Jiong’s Soccer Killer 仙球大战, Eddie Peng’s Wu Kong 悟空传 and the upcoming The Golden Monk 降魔传 – interesting concepts, but all spoilt by bad & over the top effects). 
Ah Boys to Men 4 Still 1Peps Goh: There are a few good things about this film, for one thing, it’s really difficult to integrate one product placement smoothly into a story, much less 20 different sponsorships (That’s 1 product placement every 6-7 minutes in the 2h 15 min film) and still maintain some semblance of a coherent narrative. And in that, the writing has achieved something very difficult to do.

Tiffany Yong: While the first two films focused more on Ken Chow (Joshua Tan) and the soldiers’ ten-week Basic Military Training, and the third Naval Diving Unit training film on Lobang King (Wang Weiliang), ABTM4 puts the attention on Tosh Zhang’s platoon sergeant Alex Ong, the new female addition – Apple Chan, with the reprising ‘Ah Boys’ team now in In-Camp Training (ICT) at the Armour Unit. 

Peps Goh: Director Jack Neo has a mastery of being about to create funny singular scenes, with light-hearted humor delivered with a solid pacing. And many of them are done to an interesting choice of scene blocking, almost akin to a comedy theatrical piece with the actors staged favoring one audience direction. And with the timing and chemistry of these actors; Lobang king in particular punctuating the moments effectively. 

Honestly, I felt that Alex Ong, Lobang King and once in a while Keng Long (Ryan Lian) made the advertisement-loaded film watchable by (barely) threading up the story. Otherwise, it would feel more like combination of 20-30 hilarious Youtube skits.

Ah Boys to Men 4 Tosh and AppleTiffany Yong: The distraction of the in-your-face product placements caused the storytelling to be choppy, and I spent more time playing spot-the advertisement game than to be touched by the poignant moments. I wished the personality conflicts between Joshua Tan’s angsty Ken Chow and Maxi Lim’s goody-two-shoes Aloysius Jin could be dealt better, as well as Noah Yap’s IP Man whose ‘joking-only-what’ sexist and derogatory remarks felt so familiar, yet nothing was really done to correct the childish mindset (I don’t think writing 2500 lines helps). 

All in all, it is a VERY relatable film for majority of the male population who had to serve National Service, or should I say, ICT. Just learn to ignore the ads and you will probably still enjoy it. 

Do You Know?

Hong Kong-born, Singapore-bred actress Apple Chan is the first female “Ah Boy” in this fourth instalment as Zhang Xinyi – a lieutenant in the Armour unit. The Singapore PR who moved here when she was four is currently signed on to Hong Kong’s TVB channel. The inclusion of female lead was after Jack Neo visited military bases for research and noticed the number of female soldiers. “I saw women instructors and female tank platoon commanders. They are in combat units, doing the same things that the men do, and going through the same training, without special treatment. This surprised me,” he says.

joshua-tan-flab-to-fitJoshua Tan gained 20kg to a solid 88kg for his role as Ken Chow for ABTM4. He volunteered to do a weight gain when Maxi Lim lost 17kg and did not want to gain his weight for the role again. Joshua wanted to get out of his typecast of being “the mummy’s boy, the standard boyfriend or the good-looking guy”.

The film shoot took over three months including production of the ABTM 5. The combined budget for both films is S$5 million. In this film, there were large-scale action scenes featuring a number of vehicles, including the Leopard 2 SG battle tank, and the Bionix 40/50 and Bionix 2MT armoured fighting vehicles.

Behind The Scenes and Interviews

Check out Ah Boys to Men 4 (新兵正传IV) Facebook Page!
Ah Boys to Men 4 (新兵正传IV) is out in cinemas on 9 November 2017.

The Epiphany Duplet Signature
Tiffany Yong: Facebook | Instagram | YouTube
Peps Goh: Facebook | Instagram | YouTube
The Epiphany Duplet: #TheEpiphanyDuplet
*Disclosure: Invitation from Clover Films. No monetary compensation was received for the movie review.

P.S. Noticed the different coloured text? Articles written by #TheEpiphanyDuplet will be colour-coded in future to let every reader know who say what! Hope you’ve enjoyed reading our insights!

20 thoughts on “Ah Boys to Men 4 (新兵正传IV) Movie Review”

  1. Pingback: Wonderful! Liang Xi Mei The Movie (旺德福!梁细妹) Review | Tiffany Yong

  2. I would give it only 1 star. The product endorsements are way, way too many. I think it is an insult to the audience. If the director can’t find a sponsor, he can try crowdfunding instead….

  3. Preet@thevelvetlife

    Sounds like a really nice movie. My husband love Chinese movies and I have watched a few with him, loved them, they always have something different, something new. I am going to recommend this movie to him and maybe we will watch it together.

  4. I need to start watching movies filmed and aimed for different countries. I’m sure this is one I’d enjoy, since I do like watching movies about the military. I’m also traveling Asia at the moment, so learning about the movie culture would also be great.

  5. Zhang Xinyi is such a pretty actress!Her public image is so much different then the concept of the film! I remember seeing her in that movie with Christian Bale “Jin ling shi san chai”.
    It’s really weird seeing her in this franchise.Joshua Tan tho! Goddamn those muscles!

  6. Corinne and Kirsty

    I had never heard of the franchise before. I don’t really watch chinese movies but I should start. Not sure i’d find it very relatable because of the army but why not 🙂

  7. Thehyppomyselfthecat

    I don’t watch very often Chinese movies unfortunately.. My boyfriend and I are trying to watch a bit of everything and so we incorporated some Japanese films….I am pretty sure he would like this one too.

  8. I don’t’ know it almost seems like a military version of Fast and the Furious, when they kept it going for so long that it loses it strength in film just to me the fan base need of more films. At least you found something to do while watching the file, I thought spot the advertisement was something me and my family did.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Notice: ob_end_flush(): failed to send buffer of zlib output compression (0) in /home2/tiffanyyong/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5349