Medium Rare



Medium Rare, released in local cinemas in November 1991, was Singapore’s first full-length English-language film to be released locally.1 Loosely based on the Adrian Lim ritual murders in the early 1980s,2 the film was shot and produced in Singapore.3 Medium Rare was the debut filmmaking effort for its executive producer, Errol Pang,4 and it has been credited with reawakening Singapore’s local film scene.5 Medium Rare received mixed reviews from movie critics.6

Background
The local filmmaking industry had largely been in a lull since the film company Cathay-Keris stopped making films in 1973.7 Although there were a few films co-produced by Singapore in the 1970s, these were not released locally then.8 Ventures into local films at the time were deemed to be risky, as the Taiwan- and Hong Kong-made Chinese movies were popular and thus posed as strong competition to local films.9


Description
In November 1990, Errol Pang, executive producer of Derrol Stepenny Productions, announced that he would be financing and producing Singapore’s first full-length English movie.10 Entitled Medium Rare, the film was loosely based on the true story of Adrian Lim, his wife and mistress, who were all executed in 1988 for their ritualistic murder of two children.11 The movie was planned to be shot in time for entry to the coming Cannes Film Festival in France.12

The movie got off to a shaky start as the production was beset with personnel, financial and sponsorship problems,13 delaying the shooting for about a month.14 The original director and scriptwriter backed out because the fees they demanded could not be met. Two sponsorship deals worth S$50,000 were also retracted, compounding the difficulties.15 Finally, the shooting began in April 1991.16

Shot in Singapore, the film was set in various places such as a Peranakan house on Tong Watt Road, a house on Mount Pleasant Drive, Giok Hong Tian Temple on Havelock Road, East Coast Park and Pan Pacific Hotel. Shooting lasted five weeks and was completed on 14 May 1991. A press conference on 16 May 1991 introduced the film, actors and other details to the public.17

As Singapore did not have the necessary filmmaking facilities, the post-production processes were outsourced to Australia.18 After getting a Parental Guidance (PG) rating and signing television and video rights in Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei with Cathay Organisation,19 the movie opened to mixed reviews by patrons who watched its preview screening in late November 1991. Some liked it for its original plot, local scenery and authentic-sounding local accents by the actors.20 Others found the movie too slow-paced, going beyond 100 minutes of screen time, lacked suspense and gore, and suffered from a weak script and poor editing.21 The $1.7-million film grossed about S$130,000 at the box office.22

Film credits
Executive producer: Errol Pang
Director: Arthur Smith
Producer: Graham Moore
Scriptwriters: Margaret Chan and Rani Moorthy23
Cast: Dore Kraus, Margaret Chan, Jamie Marshall and Rani Moorthy24
Cost of production: S$1.7 million25
Released in cinemas: 28 November 199126



Authors
Nureza Ahmad & Nor-Afidah Abd Rahman



References
1. Goh, J. (1991 November 25). Medium Rare – high on local colour, low on suspense. The Straits Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. EDB is not directly involved in making of Medium Rare. (1991, April 30). The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Goh, J. (1991, May 17). Filming of S’pore’s first full-length movie completedThe Straits Times, p. 28. Retrieved from NewspaperSG
4. But it’s one small step forward. (1991, November 30). The Straits Times, p. 6; Goh, J. (1991 November 25). Medium Rare – high on local colour, low on suspenseThe Straits Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG
5. Oorjitham, S. (1997, April 11). The envelopes, please: Singapore’s film festival will test the island’s fledgling movie industry. Asiaweek. Retrieved 2016, September 21 from Asiaweek website: http://edition.cnn.com/ASIANOW/asiaweek/97/0411/feat3.html; Reel life in Singapore: It’s renaissance time for the island’s film industry. (1995, June 16). Asiaweek. Retrieved 2016, September 21 from Asiaweek website: http://edition.cnn.com/ASIANOW/asiaweek/95/0616/cinema.html
6. Goh, J. (1991 November 25). Medium Rare – high on local colour, low on suspenseThe Straits Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG
7. Reel life in Singapore: It’s renaissance time for the island’s film industry. (1995, June 16). Asiaweek. Retrieved 2016, September 21 from Asiaweek website: http://edition.cnn.com/ASIANOW/asiaweek/95/0616/cinema.html
8. White, T. R. (n.d.) When Singapore was Southeast Asia’s Hollywood. Retrieved 2016, October 11 from National University of Singapore website: https://courses.nus.edu.sg/course/elltrw/history/singapore.doc
9. Reel life in Singapore: It’s renaissance time for the island’s film industry. (1995, June 16). Asiaweek. Retrieved 2016, September 21 from Asiaweek website: http://edition.cnn.com/ASIANOW/asiaweek/95/0616/cinema.html
10. Adrian Lim story to be basis of $1.7 m film. (1990, November 14). The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. EDB is not directly involved in making of Medium Rare. (1991, April 30). The Straits Times, p. 22; Adrian Lim hanged. (1988, December 27). The New Paper, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Adrian Lim story to be basis of $1.7 m film. (1990, November 14). The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. EDB is not directly involved in making of Medium Rare. (1991, April 30). The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Goh, J. (1991, May 17). Filming of S’pore’s first full-length movie completedThe Straits Times, p. 28. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Goh, J. (1991, April 13). Singapore's first English feature film hits snagsThe Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Goh, J. (1991, April 13). Singapore's first English feature film hits snags. The Straits Times, p. 22; EDB is not directly involved in making of Medium Rare. (1991, April 30). The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Goh, J. (1991, May 17). Filming of S’pore’s first full-length movie completed. The Straits Times, p. 28. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Goh, J. (1991, May 17). Filming of S’pore’s first full-length movie completed. The Straits Times, p. 28. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Goh, J. (1991, October 5). Coming soon: Medium RareThe Straits Times, p. 21. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Goh, J. (1991 November 25). Medium Rare – high on local colour, low on suspense. The Straits Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Goh, J. (1991 November 25). Medium Rare - high on local colour, low on suspense. The Straits Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Infocomm Media Development Authority. (2014). Box office information for Singapore films from 1991. Retrieved 2016, September 21 from Infocomm Media Development Authority website: http://www.mda.gov.sg/IndustryDevelopment/IndustrySectors/Film/Documents/1%20-%20Box%20Office%20Information%20for%20Singapore%20Films%20%281991-2015%29.pdf
23. Goh, J. (1991, May 17). Filming of S’pore’s first full-length movie completed. The Straits Times, p. 28; Goh, J. (1991, April 13). Singapore’s first English feature film hits snags. The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Goh, J. (1991, May 17). Filming of S’pore’s first full-length movie completedThe Straits Times, p. 28. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. But it’s one small step forward. (1991, November 30). The Straits Times, p. 6; Adrian Lim story to be basis of $1.7 m film. (1990, November 14). The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. But it’s one small step forward. (1991, November 30). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2004 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Performing arts
Motion picture industry--Singapore
Arts>>Performing Arts
Singapore--History--1990-
Business, finance and industry>>Industry>>Leisure and entertainment
Motion picture film
Arts
Arts>>Film

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