best bet

The Best Bet

The Best Bet is a Singaporean film as well as a Singaporean television series. The film was written and directed by Jack Neo, and produced by MediaCorp Raintree Pictures. The film, with a different cast than the television series stars Richard Low, Mark Lee, Christopher Lee, Chen Liping and Joanne Peh.

Released in cinemas on 9 June 2004, The Best Bet earned over S$2.5 million. The film was nominated for Best Original Film Song at the 2004 Golden Horse Awards.

The film portrays the lives, struggles and adventures of three friends who are addicted to gambling. They place a joint 4D bet; when they win, one is tempted to keep all the winnings to himself. This satirical comedy touches on gambling addiction and the consequences of one's actions.

The success of the film spawned a 14 episode Singaporean television series "The Best Bet" which aired on Mediacorp Channel 8 on April 2005. Four of the five lead actors accept Joanne Peh continued to star in the television series. Several other new actors were added to the leading cast including Dai Qianyun as Mark Lee's idolizer, and Cheryl Chin as Mark Lee's and Christopher Lee's love interest.


In 1996, director Jack Neo became a gambling addict and spent over S$1,200 a month on 4D bets. Frustrated with losing money and feeling dependent on the gambling, he successfully kicked the habit in 1999 with the support of his wife. As the release of the film coincided with an ongoing debate on whether to set up a casino in Singapore, Jack Neo commented that "we should warn people about the ills of gambling, because it is always a cycle."

When writing the script, Jack Neo decided to change his style, reducing the amount of comedy in the film, and adding more drama. However, after negative feedback from focus groups and concerns from the Board of Film Censors that The Best Bet promoted illegal gambling and the speaking of dialects, he reversed his decision.

The Best Bet was produced by Raintree Pictures on a budget of S$1.5 million. Besides writing and directing, Jack Neo composed the songs, together with Mark Lee, who sang them. The production crew included Daniel Yun as executive producer, Titus Ho and Chan Pui Yin as producers, Michael Chua as cinematographer and Mo Ju Li as music and sound director.

Filming started on 4 March 2004 and finished on 28 April. On the first day of filming, Jack Neo, Daniel Yun and the lead actors participated in a prayer ceremony at the hawker centre in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10. As 59 people had placed winning bets at nearby 4D outlets, Jack Neo commented that "this place is very wang (lucky) and this matches my movie."


The three main characters are Tan Chun Huang (Mark Lee), an illegal bookie and "super gambler" who leaves the running of his family's bak kut teh stall to his younger sister, Hui Min (Joanne Peh); Lee Yong Shun (Christopher Lee), an ambitious but unlucky man who abhors gambling; and Richard (Richard Low), a white-collar executive who is indecisive and easily influenced, but does not listen to his wife's (Chen Liping) pleas not to gamble.

A fake monk shows up near the bak kut teh stall and recommends the 4D number 3791, but Huang, who is skeptical of fake monks, refuses to buy the number. A fellow stallholder (Tony Koh) buys the number just then. When the number comes out, Huang lashes out at Hui Min.

After being sacked, Shun is caught beating a red light, and throws a rock at the red light camera. Shun has trouble paying the instalments for his condominium, and his girlfriend Evita compounds his financial woes by demanding he buy her expensive gifts. Huang suggests Shun rent out a room in the condominium to two of Huang's friends, who moved from China to Singapore. Although this causes a furious Evita to dump Shun, he is touched by the gesture, and suggests Huang and Richard start a business with him. They welcome the idea, and take a bank loan to fund the business.

Unfortunately, at the opening ceremony of their business, Shun is arrested and sentenced to jail for breaking the red light camera and housing Huang's friends, who turn out to be illegal immigrants. Consequently, the business goes bankrupt, landing Huang, Shun and Richard heavily in debt. Huang and Richard try to clear their debts by borrowing from a loan shark, but the police ambush them. Huang is arrested and sentenced to jail for illegal bookmaking.

Coincidentally, Huang, Shun and the fake monk are incarcerated in the same cell. The fake monk recommends the number 7272, and as the fake monk had previously recommended the number 3791, which came out, Huang and Shun are determined to buy the number. After a discussion with Richard, who also wishes to buy the number, they agree that Richard will place a joint bet, paying S$100 for each person.

When the number comes out, Richard's wife tempts him to keep all the winnings, because Huang and Shun had not paid for their bets. That night, Richard and his wife dreamt that they kept all the winnings to themselves, but had difficulty keeping the money safely and preventing others from knowing that they had won 4D, and that Huang and Shun took revenge on them after coming out of prison. Eventually, they decide not to keep the winnings to themselves. They decide to invest their winnings in a bak kut teh business based on an innovative business model, which prospers.


The main characters of the movie were played by the following actors:
Actor/Actress Character
Richard Low Richard
Mark Lee Tan Chun Ong
Christopher Lee Lee Yong Shun
Chen Liping Richard's wife
Joanne Peh Tan Hui Min


The Best Bet earned S$170,000 during its sneak preview, and over S$2.5 million during its cinematic release, breaking the record for the largest opening day gross for a local film in the process.

The film screened at the Asian Film Festival and received a nomination for Best Original Film Song at the Golden Horse Awards 2004, losing to Splendid Float.


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