You may define your own banner on the settings page.
FilmsAsia: Asian film reviews
Soh Yun-Huei
Dave Chua
Brandon Wee
Wong Lung Hsiang
Felix Cheong
Foong Ngai Hoe
Adrian Sim
Chris Khoo
O Thiam Chin
Lau Chee Nien
Ambient Noise
Sarhan Rashid
Ying Wuen
Ellery Ngiam
Toh Hai Leong
Toh Hai Leong, Auteur
Wong Kar Wai
The Seduction of Wong Kar Wai
Tsai Ming Liang
Lav Diaz
Mikio Naruse
Leslie Cheung
Jonathan Foo Interview
Chinese Ghosts
Assassins in Asian FIlms
Sex in Asian Cinema
Erotic Cinema of the Shaw Studios
Homosexuality in Chinese Films
My Left Eye Sees Creativity
Hollywood Remakes
Comic Book Superheroes
One League of Social Consciousness
Emerging Trends in East Asian Cinema
Postwar Korean Cinema
Decline of Hong Kong Cinema before 1997
Rise of Afghan Films
Singapore's Mini Cinema
Creating A Singapore Cinema
Why Cinema is Important to Singapore
Singapore Film Industry
Rites of Passage
Replying to Critics
Daniel Yun Interview
Singapore International Film Festival
Bangkok International Film Festival
Tokyo International Film Festival
Toronto International Film Festival
Writer's Block
All Tomorrow's Parties
And Also the Eclipse
Another Heaven
At Five in the Afternoon
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Bangkok Haunted
Barking Dogs Never Bite
Batang West Side
Battle Royale
Bear Hug
Beautiful Boxer
Beijing Rocks
Bend It Like Beckham
Best of Times
Betelnut Beauty
Big Durian
Big Shot's Funeral
Bird Man Tale
Blissfully Yours
Blue Kite
Bounce Ko Gals
Brighter Summer Day, A
Cafe Lumiere
Cat Returns
Chinese Odyssey 2002
City of Glass
City Sharks
Color of the Truth
Color Blossoms
Confucian Confusion
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
Dark Water
Destination 9th Heaven
Divine Intervention
Double Vision
Dumlings: 3 Extremes
Enter the Phoenix
Era of Vampire, The
Eye, The
Eye 2, The
Eye 10, The
Fat Choy Spirit
Floating Weeds
Fog of War, The
Formula 17
Full Alert
Ghost in the Shell
God or Dog
Golden Chicken
Golden Chicken 2
Goodbye, Dragon Inn
Guru, The
Hana-Bi (Fireworks)
Harold and Kumar
Hidden Blade, The
House of Flying Daggers
House of Fury
House of Sand and Fog
Howl's Moving Castle
I Not Stupid
In the Mood for Love
Infernal Affairs
Infernal Affairs III
Innocence: Ghost in the Shell 2
Iron Ladies 2
Isle, The
Jan Dara
Jealousy is My Middle Name
Joint Security Area
Ju-On: The Grudge (2003)
July Rhapsody
Korban Fitnah
Kung Fu Hustle
Lan Yu
Last Life in the Universe
Last Samurai, The
Legend of Zu, The
Liang Po Po
Love Letter
Lucky Number
Marry a Rich Man
Me Thao
Medallion, The
Monrak Transistor
Moveable Feast, A
Munna Bhai M.B.B.S.
Musa the Warrior
My Left Eye Sees Ghosts
My Neighbors The Yamadas
My Sassy Girl
Naked Weapon
Name of a River, The
New Police Story
Nobody Knows
Nobody Knows How to be a Film Critic
One Leg Kicking
Perfect Blue
Phone, The
Ping Pong
Pirated Copy
Princess D
River, The
Road Home
Romance of Book and Sword
Runaway Pistol
S Diary
S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine
Scent of Green Papaya
Seoul Raiders
Seventeen Years
Shall We Dance?
Shanghai Knights
Shaolin Soccer
Singapore Gaga
Skywalk is Gone
So-Called Friends
So Close
Someone Special
Song of the Stork
Spider Forest
Spirited Away
Spring Summer Fall Winter Spring
Stories About Love
Storm Riders
Summer Holiday
Sumpah Pontianak
Super Size Me
Surprise Party
Swing Girls
Tale of Two Sisters, A
Tears of the Black Tiger
Teenage Textbook Movie
This Charming Girl
Three: Extremes
Tokyo Raiders
Touch, The
Tree, The
Truth or Dare
Twelve Storeys
Twenty-Four Eyes
Twins Effect
Twins Effect 2
Virgin Stripped Bare by her Bachelors
Visitor Q
Volcano High
Warriors of Heaven and Earth
Way Home, The
Welcome Back Mr McDonald
Wesley's Mysterious File
When I Fall In Love With Both
Wishing Stairs
Wolves Cry Under the Moon
Woman is the Future of Man
Women's Private Parts
World Without Thieves, A
Zombie Dog
A Time to Live A Time to Die
e-mail me

   Tree, The  


The Tree

Reviewed by Soh Yun-Huei

Chinese Title: Haizi Shu
Director: Daisy Chan
Cast: Francis Ng, Zoe Tay, Phyllis Quek, Tse Kwan-Ho
Language: Mandarin
Country: Singapore
Genre: Drama Mystery
Year Released: 2001
Runtime: 98 min
Rating: ½ star (out of four stars)

The Tree is yet another local production, and this was supposed to be the one that made the difference - directed by Daisy Chan, it stars the Queen of Caldecott Hill herself, Zoe Tay, in a role as far removed from her usual glamourous self as imaginable. She plays a long-suffering mother of a young boy, and throughout the entire film, we see Zoe assume the role of a leaky faucet, wearing (gasp!) no makeup or pretty clothes at all. It’s meant to be a movie that blends suspense, melodrama and romance together, but the end results are lumpy and unsatisfying. I do want to support local productions, but I also have a low threshold for poor movies. Although there are some redeeming qualities to be found in The Tree, they aren’t enough to make up for the flaws that can be observed in the movie.

Guo Meifeng (Zoe Tay) is the mother of a young boy, whose pet name is Popiah (Deng Maohui). Ever since his father Wenguang (Tse Kwan Ho) left five years ago, Popiah has been waiting for his return, his only companion and friend being a large tree. Convinced that Wenguang is not returning to the family, Meifeng marries Zixiong (Edmund Tay), a man that hides a terrible secret - he is a pedophile. When Zixiong dies mysteriously, all the evidence points to Meifeng being the perpetrator. However, Popiah is witness to his stepfather’s death, and policewoman Jiang Liangxing (Phyllis Quek) tries to coax the truth out of him.

Meanwhile, the pathologist assigned to the case, Wu Chongzhe (Francis Ng), is convinced of Meifeng’s innocence, and begins his own investigation into the death of Zixiong. He becomes friends with both Meifeng and Popiah, and gradually finds out more about them as he gains their trust. However, as he comes closer to discovering the truth behind Zixiong’s death, Chongzhe comes down with the same affliction that may have caused his death. He struggles to come to terms with his imminent demise, affecting both his relationships with his father and his girlfriend. On the other side, fresh information arises about Wenguang’s disappearance, and Meifeng is again suspected of his murder. However, one common element exists amongst these disparate plot lines - the tree, and the possibility that there is more to the tree than meets the eye.

Zoe Tay displays her acting chops in this film, her debut film appearance, and she is clearly one of the better actors in the whole movie. Wearing neither makeup nor glamourous outfits, Zoe looks the role of a dowdy housewife, and her performance is sufficiently convincing. The audience also gets to find out how well she can cry, as she is teary-eyed in almost every scene she appears in. The rest of the cast is, unfortunately, not as impressive. Francis Ng sleepwalks throughout the entire movie, and has no chemistry with any of the characters he interacts with. Any scene that features him as the central character is generally wooden and uninvolving, and I found myself yawning more than once in this rather short movie. Some reviewers have praised Deng Maohui as a good child actor, but I beg to differ - his performance rubbed me the wrong way, and I was hugely irritated by his whining throughout the film. Rubbing your eyes vigorously while screaming and crying does not constitute good acting.

All these flaws can be forgiven if the plot is interesting, but again, The Tree fails to impress in this category. The plot is rife with loopholes and implausibilities, and is largely predictable and hackneyed. The Tree tries too hard to include a little bit of every major genre, and in the end it works against the film’s favours. It can’t make up its mind to be a thriller, a family drama, a romance, or a horror flick, and in the end every element is half-baked and does not really blend well with each other. What’s worse is the astoundingly bad computer graphics employed in the film, the poorly spoken Chinese, the lackluster soundtrack, and the maddening number of shots devoted to the tree - there was one shot of the tree at least every five minutes. Yes, the movie is titled The Tree, but did they have to get so literal?

Final Word: Resembles a TV movie more than a movie proper. I watched The Tree for free, and would advise anyone not to pay good money to watch it. The only good thing in it is Zoe Tay, and that really isn’t enough - not even for a local production.