Number 1 Review: Mark Lee Goes All In For Cross-Dressing Farce

Mark Lee is up for Best Actor at next month's Golden Horse Awards.

Number 1 (NC16)

Starring Mark Lee, Henry Thia, Jaspers Lai, Kiwebaby, Cassandra See, Gina Tan

Directed by Ong Kuo Sin

Retrenched from his GM job at a construction firm, Mark Lee’s Chow Chee Beng (sounds like a naughty word if you say it fast five times) ends up working in the eponymous drag club. There, he’s the AGM, aka “Ah Gua Manager”. Ha-ha. Oh, it gets better: Chow, who’s straight and married, gets roped into the sequined act as well. Lee is no stranger to playing regular Joes dealt a bad hand (see Money No Enough, Taxi Taxi), except this time, he wears mascara and high heels. (For his efforts, Lee, always a trooper, received a Best Actor nomination at next month’s Golden Horse Awards). The gender-bending farce, while feel-good and well-meaning, is a tad on the nose and TV sitcom-y predictable, especially when all the characters — Chow’s cross-dressing colleagues (including Taiwanese transgender actor Kiwebaby), disapproving family (’90s singer Gina Tan as the missus unaware of Chow’s day-job), a scary Cassandra See as a butch gangster, and Kumar — descend on the traffic jam (literally) of a finale. That’s when the movie becomes a real drag. (**1/2)

Photo: mm2 Entertainment 

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