About This Clip
Chicken Rice War
This entry is curated by Alexa Alice Joubin
Chicken Rice War (Jiyuan qiaohe 雞緣巧合, dir. Chee Kong Cheah [CheeK], Mediacorp Raintree Pictures, 2000). The Cantonese-Mandarin film title involves a wordplay on chicken (ji) and opportunity (ji).
The comedy film follows a group of Singaporean college students who rehearse and eventually stage Romeo and Juliet in English. The feud between the aristocratic Montague and Capulet families in Shakespeare’s tragedy takes the form of rivalry between two families in contemporary Singapore. The families of Wong and Chan own competing chicken rice stalls next to each other in a hawker center (semi-open-air food court).
Chicken rice, or Hainanese chicken rice, is a dish of poached chicken and seasoned rice, served with chilli sauce and cucumber garnishes. First popularized by southern Chinese immigrants to Malaysia and Singapore, the dish is now regarded as the national dish of Singapore.
The family rivalry deeply affects Fenson Wong (Pierre Png) and Audrey Chan (May Yee Lam), who end up dating as they play the titular characters in their college production of Shakespeare’s play.
Supported by the Singapore Film Commission (SFC), Chicken Rice war was designed as a mockumentary with MTV-style rapid cuts and whooshing camerawork. It was the first feature-length work by CheeK, editorial director of MTV Asia (headquartered in Singapore).