Of all the movies I've written, my favourite is MySpy. It set out to do just one thing and managed to do it despite all the odds against it.
MySpy was my love letter to the '80s films of Sam Hui, Chow Sing Chi and others as well as Shin Chan. Growing up, I really, really loved Tricky Master, Aces Go Places, Forbidden City Cop, Hail the Judge, etc.
I didn't want to do anything dramatic or epic or artsy fartsy. I wanted to do something I'd like to watch on a Saturday afternoon, possibly on TV2 or whatever.
Because the movies that I remember are not Oscar winners or Titanic (I've never seen Titanic). It's those dumb movies RTM keeps showing because they're cheap. Also, some of those cheap movies are some of the best.
The story was that I got a call from KRU who asked me to do a buddy cop movie like Bad Boys. Probably Lethal Weapon or something. Another Odd Couple thing.
I thought the best was Sam Hui and his sidekicks Karl Maka, Eric Tsang (who also directed Aces Go Places) and others. It's the pairing of Stephen Chow and Ng Man Tat or Elvis Tsui, more recently with Lam Chi Chung.
These pairings were not necessarily traditional Odd Couple, but they worked because they set up each other so well for stupid gags.
So in the beginning, that's what I had - setups for gags. One of the things is a reference to Shin Chan with the eggplant painting that's worth a lot of money. Another is a nod to Yakitate! Japan! There's a bunch of other references to Benny Hill, Mr Bean and yes, a lot of Sam Hui and Chow Sing Chi.
In one of the lowest-rated Aces Go Places movies, King Kong (Sam Hui) had these little robots that helped him fight an even bigger robot. So most of the stupid gadgets were inspired by that film. Budget constraints meant they couldn't do much with the ideas, but it looked okay in the end.
Actually, the gadgets were supposed to look even dumber and would have to seem as if it was cobbled together from stuff they had lying around. Unfortunately, this was difficult for props people to do. Practical effects are extremely harder than computer-generated ones, I believe, but they did a decent job.
After the film was released, the reviews were horrible. My friends called and told me they watched it and it was horrible and I should be ashamed of myself. I called one of the actresses in the movie for an interview about something and she mentioned that the script in MySpy was horrendous.
I even read interviews from the director - Afdlin Shauki - almost apologising for MySpy. And gave me more credit for the movie than I deserve, which I should really thank him for as I later discovered.
A week after MySpy was released, my sister called me up and said, "Fuck you. You did this thing, so you face up to it. You own it."
And I was like, "But I don't wanna. I only got paid this much and it's the director and whaaa whaaa."
She dragged me to Midvalley Megamall and we watched MySpy together. I was originally cringing in my seat but as the movie went on and I realised since nobody gave a shit about this movie and everyone thought the script was really bad, they left most of it as is.
So I began to enjoy this movie. This dumb thing I wrote that was filled with my childhood films and favourite manga, and I absolutely loved it. Mostly.
The stupid gags were all there, and the cast even added their own lines in some parts, making the scene better than when I wrote it.
I'm always in love with my own work, with my own ideas. I think if everyone did what I told them to, how I told them to, the world would be a much better place. Sadly, no one ever listens, so I went away to do my own thing.
Right now, I will only do things I can have a lot of creative control over. Or if I play the role of publisher, I make sure the creators get as much creative freedom as possible. There is value in owning your own work, to be able to exercise your creativity. And for people to take ownership and be accountable for what they did and didn't do, creatively.
Lots of people hated MySpy - including those who did the movie. But I loved it, and I think it's one of the best films Malaysia ever made.