NEW AH BOY IN TOWN

Actions
https://www.mindef.gov.sg/web/wcm/connect/pioneer/fd792fc1-9600-4f2f-97c3-d35fde2d8d42/People1.jpg?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_1QK41482LG0G10Q8NM8IUA1051-fd792fc1-9600-4f2f-97c3-d35fde2d8d42-mcUUkrq /web/wcm/connect/pioneer/fd792fc1-9600-4f2f-97c3-d35fde2d8d42/People1.jpg?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_1QK41482LG0G10Q8NM8IUA1051-fd792fc1-9600-4f2f-97c3-d35fde2d8d42-mcUUkrq /web/portal/pioneer/article/feature-article-detail/people/2018-q1/new-ah-boy-in-town
new-ah-boy-in-town /web/portal/pioneer/article/feature-article-detail/people/2018-q1/new-ah-boy-in-town
01 Nov 2017 | PEOPLE

NEW AH BOY IN TOWN

Private (PTE) (NS) Ryan Lian, a new face in the Ah Boys To Men (ABTM) franchise, shares his journey in becoming an actor.

Report // Thrina Tham

Photos // Kenneth Lin & courtesy of Ryan Lian, J Team Productions & MM2 Entertainment

Melayu 华文
English Melayu

He's become so well-known as "Ah Long", he sometimes forgets that it is just his on-screen name. After all, it was his role as Ah Long that shot local actor PTE (NS) Lian to fame in director Jack Neo's two-part period movie Long Long Time Ago, released last year.

"On the streets, and even when I do getai (live stage performances), people call me 'Ah Long'. It feels warm and affectionate," said PTE (NS) Lian.

Riding on this wave, Mr Neo added a character of the same name to the ABTM squad, with PTE (NS) Lian playing the part of Corporal Tan Kin Long (a.k.a. Ah Long).

The fourth movie of the ABTM franchise features favourite military boys Sergeant Ong (Tosh Zhang), Lobang (Wang Weiliang), Ken Chow (Joshua Tan) and Wayang King (Maxi Lim) returning as Operationally Ready National Servicemen. The movie premieres in cinemas on 9 Nov.

SAME NAME, DIFFERENT 'BENG'

"Ah Long" may be a familiar face to audiences but don't be confused: his role in ABTM is very different.While the Ah Long from Long Long Time Ago is steady and cool, the Ah Long in ABTM offends others easily, described PTE (NS) Lian.

"Ah Long is a troublemaking Ah Beng who wants to turn over a new leaf," he said, using the term for Chinese males who are typically unsophisticated. "But he is not good with words and ends up offending everyone."

It is also a role that has presented PTE (NS) Lian with a new challenge: portraying an Ah Beng who "doesn't act like an Ah Beng".

To give an example, the 32-year-old actor had his chest up, arms raised and put on a cocky and hostile look - the typical Ah Beng.

"But Ah Long is quiet and his 'beng' side is very subtle; you see it in his facial expressions," he continued. "Since Lobang is a very loud and outspoken character, I had to make sure there wasn't another Lobang in the movie… For this character, I had to portray a lot of inner emotions."

MY BUDDIES AND ME

Initially, PTE (NS) Lian was worried that he would not gel with the close-knit cast of ABTM. But they became good friends in no time.

"The guns are heavy, the weather is hot, you just feel so shack (tired). But because they were there with me, to joke around with during breaks, the time passed very quickly. I learnt these six words: 认真做,大声笑 (Chinese for work hard, play hard)."

- PTE (NS) Lian

The same could be said about the actor's own National Service (NS) as a Rifleman in 3rd Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment (3 SIR).

Back then, he was always up to mischief and would, together with two camp buddies, sabo (Malay for playing pranks) others by putting toothpaste on their faces while they were sleeping. But the trio got caught and were made to wash the toilets while their platoon mates napped, recalled PTE (NS) Lian in good humour.

"That was an unforgettable experience," he said with a laugh. PTE (NS) Lian is now an Admin Support Assistant with 788 SIR because of a back injury.

In ABTM 4, PTE (NS) Lian (second from left) plays a troublemaker who is initially unable to get along with his platoon mates.

AH MA'S BOY

"Despite the bad-boy persona that he often channels on screen, PTE (NS) Lian is a self-proclaimed stay-at-home person. "I'm actually quite shy. The fun of being an actor is that I can become someone different from who I normally am."

"Raised solely by his Ah Ma (grandmother), PTE (NS) Lian is very close to her. The family-of-two were poor, so times were tough when the then-teenager went into show business - earning just $21.60 a day acting as an extra (background actor)."

"I faced a lot of setbacks then and I wondered if I was suited for this profession."

But the young actor did not give up his passion. Though lacking formal training, he learnt through watching the likes of Andy Lau, Louis Koo and Nicky Cheung in shows.

"After 16 years of taking on bit roles, he finally landed his first big break playing a gangster in a period drama. He had scored the role of Ah Long, and the rest is history."

PTE (NS) Lian (far left) with his camp mates and their Basic Military Training Sergeant (third from left) during their graduation parade.
Suggested Reading
From obese to IPPT Gold & becoming NSF of the Year
From obese to IPPT Gold & becoming NSF of the Year
PEOPLE
17-Jan-20

When he entered Basic Military Training, Corporal First Class (CFC) (NS) Venkat Subramaniam was 108kg. His fitness was in the dumps and he would fail his Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) with a 2.4km timing of 17min and 50s.

How to survive your BMT field camp
How to survive your BMT field camp
OPS & TRAINING
10-Jan-20

You’ve come this far in your Basic Military Training (BMT) and your first field camp looms. Here’s a cheat sheet on roughing it out like a soldier.

Eight tips to survive BMT
Eight tips to survive BMT
OPS & TRAINING
08-Jan-20

It’s like the first school term when you meet new friends, learn new skills and get used to the demands of your teachers (read: sergeants). We share eight tips to help you during Basic Military Training (BMT).

12 SAF acronyms you need to know Feature
12 SAF acronyms you need to know
OPS & TRAINING
07-Jan-20

For those who are enlisting, this explainer can save your weekends - and "face". It’s no secret that the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is full of acronyms. Some are easily deciphered through common sense, while others take longer to decode.

BMTC encik answers questions on BMT & enlistment
Cover story
BMTC encik answers questions on BMT & enlistment
PEOPLE
06-Jan-20

What to bring for enlistment day? Is BMT 7 days a week? Is there WIFI in Tekong? Master Warrant Officer Thanimalai s/o Sockalingam, School Sergeant Major of Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC) School 2, answers some of the most-Googled questions about enlistment and BMT.

Five people you’ll meet on enlistment day
Cover story
Five people you’ll meet on enlistment day
PEOPLE
03-Jan-20

They're here to welcome you to the first day of the rest of your life (in National Service or NS).

What is Basic Military Training?
What is Basic Military Training?
OPS & TRAINING
02-Jan-20

Basic Military Training, or BMT, is an initiation to the military for new recruits – you stay together in bunk, learn basic soldiering skills and adjust to the regimentation of a strict military lifestyle.

SAFVC fills in the blanks
Cover story
SAFVC fills in the blanks
PEOPLE
10-Dec-19

As the Singapore Armed Forces Volunteer Corps (SAFVC) marks five years since its launch in 2014, hear SAFVC Volunteer (SV) 1 Benedicto Anthony Tarucan , SV2 Li Peishan and SV2 Hitendra Singh Dasoni share why they step up to serve.

Every Singaporean Son – The Animated Series Feature
Every Singaporean Son – The Animated Series
OPS & TRAINING
02-Dec-19

In this first-ever animated series on National Service, follow four fresh enlistees as they embark on a journey of self-discovery during Basic Military Training (BMT).

What you need to know about NS Hub Feature
What you need to know about NS Hub
COMMUNITY
25-Nov-19

By 2023, national servicemen will be able to access all their National Service (NS)- and training-related activities in a one-stop centre.