"Acting is the ability to live truthfully under imaginary circumstances." -- Sanford Meisner


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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Justice Devil

Yes, this is the film that stars Ms Ris Low as the lead character and one that is on many people's lips for the last two years as it manifests itself from conception to screening. Finally, this is it! It is coming to a cinema near you. The tabloid press loves Ris, as she is a source of  unceasing controversies to help them sell their papers. Everyone knows Ris Low!  There can be a lot said about that, but first, let's talk about the movie.

"Justice Devil" (formerly "Magnum") is set against a backdrop of betrayal, revenge, kidnap, sex, torture, blood and gore. The sort of escapism stressed out executives and the mundane in the heartlands alike would love to watch seeking breakouts from their daily predictable grinds. It will certainly go down well with repressed employees who secretly harbour fantasies about grinding an axe against their bosses! So go watch it and enjoy! See how Ris can once again rise up to surprise you! :)

However, as you sit back and cringe watching the gory details, you may be pleased to know that it is actually the actors that suffered the most in the making. There are tortures galore. Among which, I was tied up in a hot and small room with no windows, splattered with fake blood and mud. With the unbearable heat generated by the lights on set, I hyper-ventilated and actually nearly passed out. Harvaraj, the director, not knowing better (about my state), thought I did well and remarked that it was brilliant!

That said, I didn't get the worst. At least I didn't have my head dunked repeatedly into a bath tub of muddy waters with the threat of axes and chain saws, or having to perform the sex scenes. Yes believe me, it isn't quite the same bonking out in the open on set. It requires a lot more resilience and patience; and also having to out perform yourself with every new take!  Challenging stuff, trust me!  Thankfully, it was my colleagues that had to do all that and more! :)

In the night forest scenes, our bare upper torsos were a feast and feeding frenzy to the mosquitoes. It was a scene when we dragged ourselves across the long rocky roads on our bare feet running away from the murderous Ellen (Ris Low) with an axe. I mean, do you trust her with that?! Eventually, Mr White (me) wears out and goes down flat on his face, and then crawling. It was agony!  I had to crawl in semi-prone positions along a narrow path illuminated by two car headlights in a spot otherwise pitch dark. And so it was - bare knees and hands roughened repeatedly against the gravelly road as I bled for real. I lost count of how many times I did.  After that, I realised that I had pulled a nerve in my leg.  The pain persisted for a few more days after the shoot and I had to go to my acupuncturist to get it fixed. 

But there are the fun bits too! Eventually, we stopped the mozzie attacks by painting our bodies in mud, way better than mosquito repellent.  And though we did not get to meet the Leopard Prinz, the scenery in the forests and the oil palm estates were beautiful.

We were the highlight of the day whenever we move into small towns for location shooting. Then, the landlady will bring along her friends and neighbours to watch us in action and later engaged us in endless conversations. I never felt so much like a star in my life! :) Even the local police were amused. In all, they are lovely people. Simple folks heralding their welcome to their hometown. 

Shoots normally went a long 12 to 14 hours and we would end up with supper in Johor Bahru. That's when I witness with much amusement some of my younger colleagues struggling with the waiters, not having a clue how to speak with them in Malay - Singaporeans' very own National Language. :) Singapore is a strange place. It is an economic marvel with a warped and a reconstructed culture. In short, it is culturally confused! The pressured multi-system of systems, the diversity of cultures, languages and social decorums both confuse and bond us as one nation. 

For instance, we have an actor who does not speak or understand Mandarin, but went on to successfully utter his lines and perform. And performed well he did! He didn't have the fear of doing it at all! I am truly impressed till this day! It is from him, that I now no longer fear any language I have to perform in. I am so inspired by him that recently I took it up to act in the Thai language, which I do not know a word of.

If you have read till here, I guess you would be wondering, how it was like to work with Ris Low. Is it Boomz or Shingz?

Much have been said about Ris Low by the press, but she is not exactly what you see in those videos that went viral on the Net. She does has her oddities and showmanship no doubt, but so do many of us;. Certainly I do. Perhaps many others choose to hide their eccentricities, living their life under wraps masking their unique individualism instead. Ris, on the other hand, chooses to be herself and be different, arguably unaware that it may not go down well with the common people. She is not what many would consider 'normal', but then, what does it really mean being 'normal'?

Ris works hard. She is highly tolerant as she puts up with the physically miserable conditions that I believe many actresses will not last a few hours for. In fact, I find some of the locations barely acceptable myself. I wouldn't like to go into the gory details here, but trust me, they were nasty! Shingz! :) There are times when we all have to be very patient with her, as she turns out unexpectedly. I take my hats off Harvaraj, whom I think has exceptional patience and skills in communicating with her. Perhaps she has a "learning difference" from the norm. A different way of looking at the world, which is not necessarily a bad thing!

On the balance, it is still a joy to work with Ris. So, it is a BOOMZ! She is different! :) Hey, she even made it to the Wikipedia hall of fame! Have you? :) Click here.  She is unique and there is only one Ris Low...

....I hope! :)

Coming to a theatre near you in Malaysia and Singapore.
Stop Press:

The movie is going through MDA rating at the moment. Premiere will be delayed for a few weeks.We will keep you informed of the new launch date which will likely be at the end of November 2013.


Read about the devil in the detail! Click here.

For other posts about Justice Devil, click here.



  1. GWAD DAMN Why I not is SG for this.
    Thanks for the Note Michael, curious when you shot it. I am a fan of RL, although probably for the wrong reasons and this film looks awesome, also mostly for the wrong reasons but seriously to me it's Ris Low's Revenge.

  2. Production started about 12 months ago in Johore and Singapore. Funny you said that, it sounds about right that it is Ris' 'revenge'. As in, 'making a comeback with a vengeance'.

    You bet!