From slapstick comedian to bonafide actor: Mark Lee shines with visceral, heartfelt performance in ‘Money No Enough 3’

Mark Lee stands out as the best part of ‘Money No Enough 3’

When one mentions Singaporean actor Mark Lee, they would typically think of the witty slapstick comedian from ‘Police & Thief’, ‘Where Got Ghost’, as well as the first two ‘Money No Enough’ films.

Lee, however, has been diligently honing his acting chops over the decades, working his way up and establishing himself as a bonafide entertainer able to portray a range of characters in different genres.

Most recently, Lee picked up a nomination for Best Asian Actor at the Septimius Awards – the Netherlands’ equivalent of the Academy Awards.

Mark Lee Nominated For Best Asian Actor At Netherlands’ Oscars Equivalent For ‘Geylang’ Movie Role

In his latest performance reprising his role as Ah Huang in Jack Neo’s ‘Money No Enough 3’, which comes 16 years after the previous instalment, Lee shows fans of the franchise exactly why he is deserving of the recognition he has received.

‘Money No Enough 3’ character portrayed by Mark Lee grapples with morality and money

Lee’s visceral portrayal of a courier-turned-businessman stands out as the most memorable aspect of the film, as the character grapples with morality and money, and the impacts his pursuit of riches has on the people around him.

The 55-year-old actor stars alongside fellow ‘Money No Enough’ mainstays Henry Thia and Jack Neo – who play Ah Hui, a Teochew porridge stall owner, and Ah Qiang, a private-hire driver, respectively.

Ah Huang, Ah Hui, and Ah Qiang, a trio of friends who grew up in the same kampong, each face their own unique issues with their families and finances. However, kind-hearted Ah Huang found himself hounded by loansharks after becoming a guarantor for someone else.

As his debts mount, Ah Huang borrows money from Ah Hui and Ah Qiang to pay off the loansharks. Alas, the sum is not enough to cover the costs of a course his daughter Kim (Regina Lim) wants to attend to get a better job.

In desperation, Ah Huang turns to peddling illegal items and setting up illegitimate businesses for a quick buck, which prove successful in propelling him to riches. Throughout this time, Ah Huang’s personality changes into that of an unscrupulous businessman with no regard for the people around him.

As the film progresses, his actions eventually catch up to him, and the collapse of his business caused lasting impact on his family, as well as the families of Ah Hui and Ah Qiang.

Convincing delivery depicts the mindset of someone who lost themselves in the pursuit of money

While this is a textbook Redemption arc where Ah Huang ends up having to face the consequences of his actions, Lee’s convincing delivery perfectly depicts the mindset of someone who lost themselves while trying to improve their lives by earning as much money as possible.

One particular scene that comes to mind involves Ah Huang in a live interview where he talks about the success of his business.

When the interviewer asked Ah Huang about allegations against the legitimacy of his company, he frivolously swore on his family’s lives that his business is legal.

This starkly contrasts with earlier in the movie, when Ah Huang defended his daughter, who is his only family, and protected her from harassment at her workplace.

Source: JTV on YouTube

Lee’s ability to transition from the role of a protective father to a ruthless business owner so seamlessly is testament to his versatility as an actor. As the switch-up in personalities happens gradually and under convincing circumstances, the audience finds themselves wondering how the kind Ah Huang they knew turned into a monster.

As the climax of the film tapers off, Ah Huang confronts his conscience and asks himself the same question. At this point, Lee took on double-duty to play both the good and evil personas of Ah Huang.

During this heart-wrenching scene, Lee channeled a rage that surprises those who only knew him for his comedic works, as Ah Huang finally realises what he has done.

Source: JTV on YouTube

Singaporeans’ first exposure to Mark Lee’s true acting chops

With the extensive reach the ‘Money No Enough’ franchise has, this instalment may very well become many Singaporeans’ first exposure to Lee’s skills outside of making the audience laugh.

Of course, ‘Money No Enough 3’ boasts many moments where viewers will not be able to stop laughing until their bellies hurt. After all, it is a comedy aimed at evoking nostalgia among older fans and attracting younger audiences who are struggling with modern financial woes.

On the flip side, it is also an apt reflection of Singaporean society in the mid-2020s, and Lee’s performance is an accurate representation of what happens when money trumps humanity.

In essence, the film tells the story of Singaporeans trying to make ends meet, while Lee and his character Ah Huang show it.

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Featured image adapted from JTV on YouTube and GVPictures on YouTube.

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