There aren’t too many people in Malaysia who do not know Frankie Lee Sai Peng these days.
Fondly known as Uncle Frankie, Lee shot to fame as a movie star at the age of 73 in 2014, when he made his film debut in The Journey.
The film grossed RM17.16mil to become the highest-grossing local movie of all-time (though it recently lost its crown to Police Evo), and his role as a conservative father bagged Lee the best actor award at the 27th Malaysian Film Festival, making him the oldest winner ever at age 75.
This year, Lee is back with another local Chinese production, an action comedy titled Special Forces, produced and directed by Michael Chuah, who is also in the movie alongside co-stars 988 FM DJ KK Wong, Brendan Yuen, Cheong Hoe, and Andrea Lee.
During a press conference recently, Lee said he was especially excited about his second movie.
“This time around, there are tons of laughs, lots of action, and many thrills and spills,” shared Lee, who plays a retiree who fancies himself as a crime-fighting superhero.
It was not too long ago that Lee was a retiree himself, but now he can hardly stay out of the action.
“When it came to the action scenes, I told the director that I am too old already. When I was younger, I could probably do some fighting and leap around quite a bit. But now, if I jump up and fall down, I won’t be able to get back up. At my age, I cannot afford to fall down!” he said.
“During my younger days, I used to enjoy snacking on sugar cane. I could even use my hand to ‘chop’ sugar cane then. Now, I’m afraid that my hand will break before the sugar cane does.
“So in the movie, I do a lot of talking instead. My role is to supervise the members of a Special Forces team to keep a village safe by driving the baddies away.”
Special Forces is Chuah’s third film about crime-fighting – he previously directed Firefly in 2013 and Fist Of Dragon in 2011 – and was inspired by the Malaysian neighbourhood patrol programme known as Rukun Tetangga.
Chuah also plays one of the members of the Special Forces team formed by Uncle Frankie.
“Basically, each of us has a dream of being a hero. All the characters have been watching action films ever since they were young, and want to be action heroes. That’s why they joined the Special Forces.
“My character also daydreams of being a hero and hopes that he can achieve big things by joining Uncle Frankie,” Chuah explained.
“During the casting process, I tried to select the best comedians. Initially, I had wanted to cast someone else in the lead. But, after I watched The Journey, I felt that he (Lee) fitted the role best. He can be funny and serious at the same time.”