Long Long Time Ago (Chinese: 我们的故事; pinyin: Wǒmén dè gùshì; literally "Our Story") is a 2016 Singaporean period film directed by Jack Neo, the first of a two-part series. The film commemorates Singapore's 50th birthday and stars Aileen Tan, Mark Lee and Wang Lei as the main casts.
The story spans from 1965 to the early 1970s. Heavily pregnant Zhao Di, the unwanted second wife of an older man, was chased out by her husband's family and forced to return to her own family. She eventually gave birth to twins, Shun Fatt and Su-Fang. As Su-Fang had two moles on her face, which was said to be bad luck, Zhao Di decided to give her up due to the pressure of wanting to build a better life for the rest of her family. With Zhao Di's indomitable spirit, and with the help of her family, they went through adversities, witnessed the changes through the years, and accompanied every step of the nation`s growth in its early years.Aileen Tan as Lim Zhao Di
Mark Lee as Lim Ah Kun, Zhao Di's younger brother
Wang Lei as Si Shu, Zhao Di's father
Ng Suan Loi as Ah Ma, Zhao Di's mother
Benjamin Tan as Lim Ah Hee, Zhao Di's younger brother who is among the first batch of National Servicemen
Yan Li Xuan as young Su Ting, Zhao Di's eldest daughter
Charmaine Sei as Ah Feng, Ah Kun's wife
Ryan Lian as Ah Long, a gangster
Suhaimi Yusof as Osman, a Malay food seller
Nurijah binte Sahat as Fatimah, Osman's wife
Silvarajoo Prakasam as Shamugen, a hawker inspector turned People’s Association officer
Bharathi Rani as Rani, Shamugen's daughter and Ah Hee's love interest
Child CastEzekiel Chee
Li Feihui, Yan Li Ming, Jack Neo, Irene Kng, Yoo Ah Min, Henry Thia, Cheah Gim Hin, Justin Dominic Mission, Tosh Zhang, Wang Weiliang, Joshua Tan and Jaspers Lai make cameos in this film.
To prepare for her role, Aileen Tan had to improve on her Hokkien and learn some Malay. Due to an accident, she chipped her tooth, but Neo forbade her to fix the chipped upper lateral incisor because he said it gave her character a stronger personality. Meanwhile, Wang Lei had to wear prosthetic teeth and facial hair, and dye his hair white to play the role of a 60 to 70-year-old.
The film was inspired by Neo's own childhood of growing up in Kampong Chai Chee, and some scenes were filmed in Ipoh, Malaysia, especially in Kampung Cina Pusing. Filming started in May 2015, with both parts shot over 60 days.
The film's budget was initially $5 million, but because Neo "wanted to make improvements", he "took a cut from my director's fee to make things happen", as a result, it went up to $6 million. A huge amount of resources was involved in the making, such as the construction of a 30m-by-30m pool that is 1.5m deep to film scenes recreating the 1969 Singapore flood. It also introduced Auro-3D for clearer sounds.
The theme song for the film, "Our Memories" (我们的回忆), is composed by Matthew Tang with lyrics by Jack Neo and Ivan Ho, and is sung by Getai singers Desmond Ng, Leon Lim, Febe Huang and Sherraine Law.
Critical reception was mostly positive.
The New Paper gave it a 4/5 rating, calling it a "tender, fitting paean to our hardworking pioneer generation" and finding that compared to his previous movies, "there is no over-sentimentality in this one". inSing also gave it 4/5, praising how the performances of the film's veteran actors, Aileen Tan and Mark Lee, "keep the viewer engrossed, as well as help to lift the heavily plotted and sometimes meandering film". F*** magazine gave the film 3.5/5, surprised to find "a solid, well-assembled film in its own right, with a swashbuckling cast at the top of its game that shows up the Ah Boys...for the acting lightweights that they are".
SINdie noted how although "the inevitable family melodrama in Neo’s films maybe [sic] tedious, but that doesn’t dissipate the warmth that drives this project... there is the sense that the people behind Long Long Time Ago are more than collaborators, but rather a collaborative community akin to a family". Whang Yee-Ling of 8 Days awarded it 3.5/5, praising the "strongly played" performances of Aileen Tan, Mark Lee and Wang Lei and calling the film "equal parts heartfelt and calculating in manipulating our lump-in-the-throat nostalgia. It's a winner, the Hokkien dialect especially a treat".
Long Long Time Ago topped the Chinese New Year box office in Singapore, raking in $1.65 million in six days, beating films like The Monkey King 2 and The Mermaid.
At the end of the film's run in late March 2016, the film has earned $4.15 million at the Singapore box office.
The second part of the film, entitled Long Long Time Ago 2, was released on 31 March 2016.