Film Review: Mee Pok Man (1995) by Eric Khoo

Film Review: Mee Pok Man (1995) by Eric Khoo


Film Review: Mee Pok Man (1995) by Eric Khoo

Film Review: Mee Pok Man (1995) by Eric Khoo




Mee Pok Man (The Legacy That Needs to End Now)

CW: Sex, Necrophilia, Death, Corpses, Some Physical Violence and MASSIVE SPOILERS

Eric Khoo’s Mee Pok Man is widely heralded to be the spark for Singapore’s revival in filmmaking.  It has garnered foreign acclaim for showing a grittier side of Singapore, often conveniently censored. Despite its impressive encapsulation of the 1990s local nightlife scene in Singapore, its narrative, however, leaves much to be desired.


The Duo

The film features an unlikely duo born from the fringes of society. Their lives become intertwined as they yearn for a genuine connection that society has failed to provide for them.

Mee Pok Man is alienated by society for his inability to complete formal education due to his intellect. 

Bunny, on the other hand, is a sex worker who yearns to leave the industry, seeking foreign partners to bring her away from Singapore.

During the film their lives collide (quite literally), when Bunny becomes a victim of a hit and run and Mee Pok Man comes to her rescue.

The portrayal of Bunny as a sex worker looking to foreign men as  a way out of the sex work industry perpetuates an unnecessary narrative of victimisation. Further advocating for the belief that sex workers should want to be saved.



The Objectification of Bunny

Mee Pok Man is classified as a romcom…but what’s so funny? Misogyny? Ranging from her pimp –  Mike Kor, to her expat-boyfriend, Jonathan Reese, and even Mee Pok Man himself, Bunny was reduced to an object (by the film) for the satisfaction of men.


“Bunny, you’re the best. You don’t give me any problems, all the customers like you.” Mike Kor’s reaffirming words, moments before placing his hand on her thigh insinuating a sexual favour.

Nec-ro(mance)-philia and social dependency

The climax of this film portrays a bittersweet moment where Bunny passes on while supposedly finally making love with a person of her choice. Mee Pok Man, then unable to deal with reality, keeps her rotting corpse in his apartment, maintaining it to his best effort, and treating it just as though it was still alive.


Despite showing the director’s main intentions to create a metaphor that critiques a society that cannot form healthy relationships, it inadvertently reinforces the idea that even in death Bunny is yet again an object that serves to fuel the sexual natures of men.

Mee Pok Man is a commendable film for its ability to paint a grittier side to Singapore. Its portrayal of the sex work industry however isn’t. 

While objectification of female bodies are certainly not limited to the sex industry, such misogyny is pervasive in media portrayals of sex work. It is important to understand that this false generalisation of sex workers would only complement the patriarchal society that we live in, taking the already largely unspoken narratives of sex work further away from the truth; sex workers are diverse and denying sex workers a voice is objectification.


“Yuck!” Fact

Amongst different critics, one comment particularly stood out to us

Its depiction of women as objects – literally, in the form of the comatose or dead Bunny – was off-putting to critics at the time, but it has to be understood in context, as “the world of the mee pok man was violent and misogynistic”, he says.

~ A/P Liew Kai Khuin. Taken from the Straits Times. 20 years on, Mee Pok Man remains one of the most important Singapore films, say experts.


When considering this view, the death of Bunny glorifies  and romanticises the objectification of women purely for the film’s shock value. We can also draw parallel to other films on sex work, such as Geylang, which also featured the unnecessary death of a sex worker. Does this not imply that sex workers are easily dispensable?


Fun Fact

Have you heard of the Bechdel test? It’s a test that can be used to objectively discern the level of representation of women in film and other forms of fiction! Next time you watch a film, why not try using it? And yes – it is possible to make a film about sex workers that pass this test.

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Vanessa Ho

Executive Director | [email protected]

Executive Director
[email protected]

Vanessa has been full-time with Project X since 2011, and as a result, has had many opportunities to meet and connect with sex workers in Singapore and around the world. Under her leadership, the organisation has grown from a small group of volunteers to one where there are three paid staff and a team of over 60 volunteers. Correspondingly, she has increased the annual operating budget of the organization five times, and is now recognized as the leading organization that empowers and assists women in the sex industry.

Vanessa has written and spoken extensively about sex work, human trafficking, rape culture, and LGBTQ rights in Singapore. She believes that if people can speak about sex, gender and sexuality in open and in non-judgmental ways, society will become a safer place for everyone.

Vanessa holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Warwick, and a Masters Degree in Gender, Society and Representation from University College London.