Here’s our honest take on Jack Neo’s latest instalment of the Ah Girls franchise.
While Ah Girls Go Army Again might have created “400 job opportunities during the pandemic”, it’s no excuse for passing off another substandard, unskippable YouTube advertisement as a movie.
As someone who watched both parts involuntarily, I have to admit, I laughed a lot more when watching the sequel. Not because it was funny but because I simply couldn’t believe how this was licensed to be screened in cinemas.
The movie explores the (not so) complicated “love triangle” between Recruit Joey, Lieutenant Roxanne and their boyfriend Damien as well as the girls’ GBMT (Girls Basic Military Training) journey where they get involved in a life-threatening situation.
The plot should tell you all about what a trainwreck Ah Girls Go Army Again was. And this is why:
You know those homemade videos you’d make when you were a kid using built-in apps like iMovie and GarageBand? Ah Girls Go Army Again is not that far off in terms of production value.
Cue the awkward slo-mo effects and ear-splitting soundtracks, along with the badly timed fade-to-black transitions.
As a media student who’s studied film, I’m not confident that any part of this hour-and-a-half-long “movie” can be considered as mise-en-scène.
In the beginning, tension builds as we watch Recruit Joey uncover the truth about her boyfriend Damien – that he’s cheating on her with Lieutenant Roxanne. It’s then revealed that the third party was not the Lieutenant but rather Joey.
Upon finding out that they’ve fallen victim to Damien’s infidelity, the girls give each other a knowing look before the scene cuts to them in a restaurant where they take revenge by shoving his face into not one, but two cakes.
The rest of the recruits then show up and huddle around the two girls, in support of their actions. They don’t say a word but instead sing what sounded like a theme song for a horror movie.
Watching such a #Girlboss move unfold, I was expecting some sort of reconciliation between the two ladies and a celebration among the unit. However, the film simply moved on and the subplot was never revisited.
Personally, I’d have liked it better if they showed how the girls got together with Lieutenant Roxanne to plan how to get back at Damien. That would’ve been a lot more interesting and less abrupt. There would’ve also been several opportunities for comedic relief.
Another subplot which I felt was terribly underdeveloped was, ironically, the climax of the entire film.
The recruits find themselves in a dangerous situation and it results in their beloved Sergeant Chow suffering an injury. We watch as the girls struggle to carry him out of the jungle, towards civilisation. But before we even find out if they make it out of the jungle, the scene fades to black once again and cuts to their ORD ceremony. Shortly after, the movie ends.
This makes me wonder just how many scenes were deleted or if the movie’s sole purpose was to simply publicise their sponsors, which brings me to my next point.
Come on. We’ve been through this before.
Besides the lack of flow in storytelling, the Ah Girls franchise lets us down once again with its unimaginative incorporations of brand deals.
Barely 10 minutes into the movie, I had already seen three brand sponsors with their logos shamelessly slapped across the screen. It honestly felt like I was watching a Channel 5 drama with commercial breaks in between.
That said, to give credit where it’s due, I was quite impressed by the slight improvements made from the first movie.
Moving past its former narrative of infantilising women and downplaying their struggles, Ah Girls Go Army Again focuses more on the character development of the recruits and how they’ve evolved as a section.
As they journey through tough times as a team, together they mature and grow closer. They also manage to solve their differences by the time the show wraps up.
This time round, the other cast members had more screen time and lines and through that, I could finally get a sensing of their personalities. As they felt more human, I could connect with them a lot more and was considerably emotionally invested in their various character arcs.
I was also pleasantly surprised by the number of action-packed scenes this movie had and how believable the stunts were. At some point, I found myself on the edge of my seat, in anticipation of the barbarous fights that were to break out.
While I’m glad to have seen significant improvements from Ah Girls Go Army, my distaste for this franchise isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, unless Jack Neo somehow does a 180 degree change in terms of direction and screenwriting – back to the days of I Not Stupid and Homerun.
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