Hock has a dead-end supermarket job but a single prospect on the horizon: if he can swallow his pride and summon the skill to enter the local disco dancing competition, he might just win the girl of his dreams along with $5000 to buy the motorbike of his dreams. Think Strictly Balloom with an Asian twist or Saturday Night Fever in the tropics; Glen Goei's Forever Fever is a comic boogaloo through the dance steps that time forgot.
In a sequence reminiscent of Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo, Tony, a Travolta-styled on-screen smoothie, offers our hero, Hock, some advice: "The more you shake it, the more you make it!" Recalling the charm of John Hughes 80s teen comedy/dramas (16 Candles, Ferris Bueller's Day Off) and featuring the singalong soundtrack of a Muriel's Wedding. Forever Fever is heart-warming without resorting to saccharin.
Hock idolises Bruce Lee, gets nothing but grief from all his family and is bullied by the local cool crowd. The various humiliations and frustrations of his life only serve to firm his resolve to achieve something better. With the tutoring of his imaginary cinematic guardian angel, the impossible comes within reach.
From the opening sequence, set to the tune of Carl Douglas' lone mega-hit, Kung-Fu Fighting, to the thrilling finale played out to the strains of Dan Hartman's Instant Replay, Hock undergoes a hip makeover. His transformation from dag to dance demon takes place while director Goei utilises the action to comment on the conflict between Western and Asian culture, traditional and modern values that occurs in Singapore.
Fun and uplifting, Forever Fever is a spirited, honest and entertaining debut, a sure audience favourite at MIFF 1999.