Taxi! Taxi!
德士当家
Opens 3 January 2013
Genre Drama
Duration 93 mins
LanguageMandarin with English & Chinese Subtitles
Director Kelvin Sng
Cast Gurmit Singh, Mark Lee, Dr. Jia Jia
 
The Story
Taxi! Taxi! is a social comedy set in the metropolitan city-state of Singapore, told through the encounters of two characters who are in what is widely perceived as the most sociable profession on the island taxi drivers.

Inspired by famed blogger Dr Cai Mingjies real life accounts as a taxi driver in his bestseller Diary of a Taxi Driver: True Stories From Singapore's Most Educated Cabdriver, the movie follows the trials and tribulations of a retrenched microbiology scientist, Professor Chua, as he turns to taxi driving after several failed job attempts.

Along the way, he befriends (although they didnt quite start off as friends from the get-go) a veteran taxi driver, Ah Tau. The two men, who appear to be polar opposites of each other in every aspect from educational levels, personalities, attitudes toward life and even the languages that they speak, eventually find themselves interdependent and influencing each other in ways that they probably had never imagined possible.

A fish out of water, Professor Chua gradually learns to move out of his comfort zone and sheltered life in the research lab, and adapt to the real world on the streets of Singapore. Yet, his biggest challenge of all, has to be: breaking the truth about his change of profession to his uninformed family his social-conscious mother-in-law, his elitist son who idolizes his career as a scientist, and his wife whom he vowed to never let her have to worry about the bread and butter issues throughout their marriage. Can he hide it from them forever? And will they still respect him as head of the house if he reveals it to them?

Ah Tau, on the other hand, has problems of a different nature. His son, Jia Jia, believes that his absent mother is on a trip around the world, and he has to continuously find ingenious ways to keep the boys belief alive, so as not to shatter his hope of seeing her again. Also, badly influenced by his own street Singlish that he uses to communicate with his passengers, Jia Jia spouts Singlish like a typical taxi driver whenever he speaks, and his kindergarten teacher who promotes Good English is surely not impressed. A loving father but whose means are limited by his capabilities, can Ah Tau provide whats best for his son?

Bugged by their own individual troubles and initial aversion to each other, the two unlikely buddies soon discover that they can actually help one another out, and show the other what he has never seen from his usual position all along. They finally realize that lifes dead ends can actually turn to passable roads, if you just approach them from a different angle and with a different attitude!

Gurmit Singh and Mark Lee play Professor Chua and Ah Tau respectively in this inspiring comedy about the choices, hope and friendship that one might encounter along the journey in life.
 
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Review (1)Back To Top
By Swee Leong
28 Dec 2012
Taxi! Taxi!, inspired by  Dr. Cai Mingjie's real life accounts as a taxi driver in his bestseller "Diary of a Taxi Driver: True Stories From Singapore's Most Educated Cabdriver", follows the life of  microbiologist, Professor Chua (Gurmit Singh) after he got retrenched. As he lower his expectations and turns to taxi driving temporarily (at first) after several failed attempts at new positions and interviews, he forged an unlikely friendship with a veteran taxi driver, Ah Tau (Mark Lee) who is nothing like himself. At the same time, Professor Chua finds it difficult to break the truth about his change of profession to his family: his social-conscious mother-in-law (Lai Meng), his elitist son (Royston Ong) who idolizes him for his career as a scientist, and his wife (Jazreel Low) whom he promised to never let her have to worry about money issues from their first day of marriage. Ah Tau, on the other hand, has problems of his own. His son, Jia Jia (Chua Jin Sen), believes that his runaway mother is on a trip around the world, and Ah Tau has to keep the boy's hope of seeing his mother alive which inevitably led to cracks in their relationship. To make matter worse, Jia Jia, strongly influenced by Ah Tau, spouts Singlish like a typical taxi driver, which caused much trouble for him in school.

Director Kelvin Sng, in his first full feature, showed much more flair in pacing and camera work than any other local director recently, only to be brought down by the abrupt ending. The screenplay, scripted by Boris Boo, Lee Chee Tian and Violet Lai, steered clear from hot topics like foreign talents "taking job that belong to the local" and receiving "better benefits from the government than the locals". By doing so, the movie failed to exploit the potential of becoming a social commentary with incredible depth. Instead, it skimmed on surface of such topics and became a predictable and rather bland narration about perseverance, friendship and adaptation to circumstances. There is nothing wrong with an uplifting story but the simplicity of it may have affected the performance of some of the cast.

Gurmit Singh put up an underwhelming performance as the over qualified taxi driver even though his lines are mostly in English which should have easily made him a perfect casting choice. It felt like Gurmit Singh as a comedian and an actor could not decide which direction his character should go. The scene in the supermarket with his wife felt forced and lacking, due to his poor articulation and over-emphasis of the last word in each line, or maybe, it is due to the excessive and blatant product placement which destroyed the atmosphere in that scene. Xiang Yun could have jumped out from one of the aisles and together, the three of them can chant the supermarket's slogan to no one's surprise. Jazreel Low, in her first acting role over a decade, showed some unevenness in her interpretation. Lai Meng was either over-the-top or non-expressive in her scenes which is unexpected for someone with her years of experience. Fortunately, Mark Lee is competent in his role as the layback taxi driver who lacks cultural refinement. Like his many other roles to date, he bring out the down to earth quality of Ah Tau, and for once, with surprising emotional depth. Chua Jin Sen, better known as Dr. Jiajia on Youtube, was delightful in his film debut though he basically brought his online persona to the silver screen. Dr Jiajia bounced off quite nicely with Mark Lee during the comic as well as emotional scenes. Unlike the other local movie screened recently, casting a Youtube star worked nicely. The weakest link for their half of the story has to be Gan Mei Yan as Regina, proving, once again, radio hosts cannot act. The film also has numerous cameos, including a highly entertaining performance by Chua En Lai as a traffic police officer.

A much needed deliverance for those who have lost faith in local films, Taxi! Taxi! does not offer a smooth ride but it is certainly a production with dignity and redeeming qualities. It may not have any gimmicky scene but it is, without a doubt, one of the better movies produced locally, largely thanks to Mark Lee's performance and the positive message it brings across.
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