Men Who Save the World/Lelaki Harapan Dunia (2014) – ‘An unapologetically honest’ local film

By The Gorgeous Palah Chingu

My Rating : 4/5
My Rating : 4/5

        I seldom watched local films. There i said it. No offense but with a shitty content, mediocre actors and actresses, i rather shove a poison in my mouth and die than watching them. There are some of good actors and actresses in Malaysia but i felt like their potential remain hindered in local film industry. Having to play the same characters over and over again and being forced to conform on the standard of local film (which is majority of them are so sub par and repetitive story line) leaving them no choice. The situation is no different for directors and script writers as well. There are young and promising talents out there. They are trying to enter the industry with a new and fresh ideas but failed to make any mark for their careers. Some of them decided to take a path as an independent film makers. They managed to attract a small amount of crowd but that’s it. Some people recognized their films but how many? They have their own niche for their films but to put their films in big screens is risky business and many are not ready to take it. Statistically speaking, most ended up flop in cinema.

         Facing international films as a stern competition is one thing but attracting younger generations to watch a sardonic film like ‘Men who save the world’ is another thing. To begin with, it doesnt have what malaysian youths usually enjoy ; action or romance films. It doesnt even embrace what typical malaysian directors love to do which is recycling horror tales and calling it a new and upgraded horror flick ever released. This film is opposite of everything typical local films usually possessed such as a) Its not necessarily has a love theme B) It does’nt have glossy factors like a good looking actors or hot actresses C) It’s revolves around cultures, values and morality that we often forget D) It’s mocking our society’s bad habit in a sarcastic manner. Hollywood and even bollywood is way past making satire films but Malaysia is practically an infant at this. Why? Because we are too defensive about everything. We are too busy being offended for many things. If we are not busy being offended, we are demanding government to ban anything that might offend us.

Because we all know what 'kompang' is, right?
Because we all know what ‘kompang’ is, right?

               Take a chill pill, will you? Take this film as an example which is instead of focusing the content of film, they are fighting and arguing that this film is an insult to Malay’s dignity. Why? because the director is not belong to Malay Race. He is chinese and some malays cant accept that.  Seriously, How can you be stupid than you already are right now?  Many failed to highlight the intention of both writer and director in this film. ‘Muafakat’ and ‘Angkat Rumah’ culture is at the brink of extinction. Currently, Malaysian youths preferred to migrate searching for better opportunity rather than staying in a rural area. They even chose to live in the city and leaving the elders behind. They went back once or twice to visit the elders and truth be told, they forgot the culture they were raised in (including myself). The elders still practicing it but these culture will be gone with them to be honest. However, this is not the thing they are discussing once they watched the film. They kept dissing that the director is a chinese. They kept insinuating that Malays and Islam has been portrayed in a bad manner and it was unforgivable for them. They even went on asking all Malays to boycott this film. What bad manner? Which one? Shaman, ‘Bomoh’ or Tahyul belief has been long existed and deeply rooted in our culture. Sorry but not sorry, admit it that some of our relatives still go and seek their counsel. Although you yourself dont believe it anymore, people around you still do.

Bomoh, Bomoh & Bomoh
Bomoh, Bomoh & Bomoh

                Before those morons started imposing this boycott on all of us or before we blindly following their order, i urged you guys to watch the film first. Give this film the benefit of the doubt, watch it without any pre conceived notion that you have regarding this film, keep an open mind and you can see what actually the film is all about. Sometime we watched film for an entertainment, to make us laugh but sometime we watched it because it is realistic and speaks to us in a direct and sensible truth. This film is one of them. You can enjoy watching ‘Hantu Mak limah’ or ‘Polis Evo’ (no judgment here though i will not watch them) but save some time to enjoy film like this in the future. Hopefully, we can save our local film industry by showing adequate support to high quality films like this in the future.

Some scenes you shouldn’t feel offended at all even if you are malay (because obviously it was true) :

  1. Believing Shaman’s word over their own rationality.
  2. Trusting an illicit-substance addict words rather than checking the old house itself.
  3. Too quick to pass judgment before investigating it thoroughly.
  4. (There is no insult on islam or attack on islam whatsoever) The Animal slaughter in eid-ul-adha might seem ordinary in our eyes but imagine kids (i know i cried when i first saw cow’s got slaughtered), people who are vegans saw it, their brain might exaggerate the scene and perceived it was barbaric. The director seems to portray the scene in kid’s perspective. You saw in that scene that the kids cried so hard. You shouldnt felt offended instead make it as a responsibility that if any people asked why the slaughter seems barbaric, explain it based on Islamic teaching. We don’t simply cut animals and make it suffer. Thanks to Wikipedia and its information ; i would love to clarify this to my fellow Malaysians (Non Muslims especially) that one of the rules to slaughter cow in ISLAM is that the knife must be sharp and the cut must be placed on specific location so that cow can face a quick death.

This method of slaughtering lawful animals have several conditions to be fulfilled: (1) The butcher must be Muslim, (2) The name of “ALLAH” or “In the name of Allah” must be called by the Muslim butcher upon slaughter of each halal animal separately, (3) it should consists of a swift, deep incision with a very sharp knife on the throat, cutting the wind pipe, jugular veins and carotid artery of both sides but leaving the spinal cord intact.

Plot :

'Angkat Rumah' Culture
‘Angkat Rumah’ Culture

              The story started with Pak Awang ( Wan Hanafi Su) intended to remove his old house to a new location. He intend to finish rebuilding the house before her daughter get married (She was never shown in the film, FYI). He was planning to give the house as her daughter’s wedding gift. The old house has been left for few years and some part of it beyond repair. Together with his friend, Megat (Harun Salim Bachik), they consulted a local religious leader who is also house builder known as Tok Bilal (Jalil Hamid) for some advice. At first, he was reluctant because of it is nearly impossible task to relocate the house. However, he agreed to assist and by using his influence to ascertain a quite number of villagers to lend their hand in this matter. The story then shifted to an immigrant African man (known as solomon) who’s working as a hawker for counterfeited goods like belts and wallets. However, without having a license to sell, it causes problem to Solomon. All his goods has been confiscated by the authority and he ended up being beaten mercilessly by them. Fortunately, he managed to escape and hide in the lorry. Authority currently searching for him but he successfully fled right into the nearby forest before security checked the lorry.

Solomon hide in Pak Awang's old house.
Solomon hide in Pak Awang’s old house.

                Solomon ran as fast as he could before he stumbled upon Pak Awang old house. He used the house as his shelter before his presence is noticed by ‘good for nothing’ villager, Wan (Sofi Jikan). Never seen a black and African man before, he panicked and alerted head of village and others that the house is haunted. The rumors has been spreading around but the ‘moving house’ activity still continued despite the rumors. Pak Awang intended to finish the moving in 5 days. Villagers kept gossiping about it and related to certain incidents befell to some people is due to the house curse. First, Megat step on fragile floor and sprained his ankle, then Wan saw the black figure in the house, the daughter of one villager has been allegedly bitten by ghost and now, the camel that will be sacrificed for Eid Adha is currently missing. The ghost theory kept getting stronger and villagers are being restless because of the house. In turbulent time like this, we always used Shaman or ‘Bomoh’ to connect the link. It’s in our culture to refer our problem to them. Although this is not widely accepted anymore because Islam forbids it, still few of Malays continuing the beliefs. The shaman concluded based on his prediction that it was ‘Orang Minyak’, one of malay ghost myths. His guess was solely based on Wan’s description and the bitten mark on one of the villager’s daughter. Some of you may not know what is ‘Orang Minyak’ or to translate directly as ‘Oily Man’.

The orang minyak of the 1960s was described as human, naked and covered with oil (supposedly to make it difficult to catch). However, there were also stories of the orang minyak where it was supposedly supernatural in origin, or invisible to non-virgins, or both. The mass panic has also led to unmarried women, typically in student dormitories, borrowing sweaty clothes to give the impression to the orang minyak that they are with a man. (All Credit goes to Wikipedia for this description).

To lure 'Orang Minyak' , all male in village has to cross dress.
To lure ‘Orang Minyak’ , all men in village has to cross dress.

                 The shaman then asked all villagers to cross dress as to lure the demon out. Its somewhat a bit chaotic seeing all male wore baju kurung and vice versa in this village. Thats what Solomon felt when he saw this. He dont understand but he didnt say anything. He made himself remain hidden. The male villagers , on the other hands, remain vigilant to the current situation. Pak Awang failed to convince the rest to not heed what the shaman and Wan said. It might be their imagination, he assumed. Pak awang resorted to bribe Wan seeing that he failed to convince the villagers. He asked Wan to revert his statement and admitted he never saw the ghost around his old house. Wan refused to do that though he did took the money from him.

                Did Pak Awang managed to move his house on time? Did they ever found out that the ‘Oily Man’ is not really an oil man? I wont write the ending because i wanted you guys to watch it.

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