BRUNEIANS JUMP FOR JOY

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

BRUNEIANS, young and old, were treated to a special show billed as "JUMP", a martial arts comedy extravaganza which was held at the Grand Hall of The Empire Hotel and Country Club last Monday.

The show was such a hit, attracting a huge crowd which was beyond expectation.

In fact, many of those who came to watch had to stand or sat on the carpeted floor of the venue throughout the show.

JUMP is a combination of gymnastic exhibition, martial arts demonstration, folkloric storytelling, mime, and slapstick humor. And it is done with the art, skill, and discipline of athletes, of which some of the cast are.

Needing little dialogue to explain itself, the show and its slapstick humour made the audience laugh from beginning to end, delighting every one who saw it with the perfect comedic timing and the brilliant action sequences that would not look out of place on the cinema screen.

The story centres around a martial arts family spanning three generations: the crochety martial arts master grandfather, the dynamic duo father and mother, sweet yet limber daughter who is being romanced by the dual personality geek and hulk son-in-law and the uncle who can't seem to do anything right.

When two bumbling burglars attempt to rob their home, this family dishes out their own brand of retribution with hilarious results.

According to Kim Kyung Hun, the CEO of YEGAM Inc, preparations for the show took three years.

"The actors are all well-trained in either gymnastics or martial arts prior to the show. There are seven troupes of performers altogether and the show has toured around the world to places as far as Europe and has even had a stint on Broadway," said Kim.

He described the show as "a combination of Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Chan" with lots of action, saying that the show had universal appeal as there was little dialogue and the story spoke for itself.

There's much to be said about the performance of the actors, as it's not just their incredible onstage feats that impress, every movement down to the effective expressions on their faces convey the perfect synergy between the performers.

In the first act, in a sequence that seemed as if someone in the audience had taken the remote control and pressed fast forward and slow motion, the performers switched over seamlessly, which can be attributed to their dexterity, practice and athletic skill which took the audience's breath away.

The scenes were brilliant and effective, both from their complexity and the pure embedded humour, yet made to look as if it was effortless for all the performers involved.

Hong Yun Gab, who played the handsome father, said it was a similar showing of JUMP in Korea that inspired him to take to the stage himself.

"I was very impressed with how the show was made, and I wanted to join it as it was very exciting," said Hong.

Hong had previous training in the Hapkido and Tae Kwon Do martial arts himself, and was a perfect addition to the cast with his expertise.

"I was a little afraid when I first started, as I only had a martial arts background, and it was different being on stage. Now, when I see the reaction from the audience, I feel good, but I still get a little nervous just before the show starts," said Hong.

Hong was also excited performing before the Bruneian audience because it is his first time in the sultanate.

He said that Brunei and Korea had many similarities in cultural aspects.

"Historically, Korea had a royal family, so I am excited to be able to perform for members of the Royal family in Brunei."

Park Il, counselor and deputy chief of mission at the Republic of Korea Embassy, said the show is a gift to the Bruneian people.

"The show is a gift to the Bruneian people from the Republic of Korea, especially during this Hari Raya season," said Park Il.

"In Brunei, many people share and open their houses in the spirit of Hari Raya, and we wanted to do the same for the people here.

"It is indeed a great joy for us to organize another excellent performance in this meaningful season of acceptance, openness and generosity.

In fact, these three words - acceptance, openness and generosity - are the essential foundation on which any cross-cultural exchanges can stand, and this is true also for the show JUMP," said Kim Dae-sik, ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Brunei.

At the end of the performance, the happy audience ventured towards the stage to try some of their own leaps and stunts and examine the set closely. Many wished to take pictures with the cast members.

Perhaps it can said that the production of JUMP left a big impression on the small sultanate, and many from the audience secretly wished they could be part of action, and more than mere spectators.

The Brunei Times