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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Takhta 3 Ratu – Drama series review

By The Gorgeous Palah Chingu

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I’ve been waiting for this kind of drama ages ago. We had so many stories in the period of Malacca sultanate but our film industry failed to take advantage of our history. Takhta 3 Ratu or in english it would be ‘the throne of 3 queens’ take us back on the sultan Mansur Shah period where he ruled Malacca in a glorious manner. According to history, Sultan Mansur Shah’s strength lies on diplomatic relation with many powerful countries at that time like Majapahit and China. In order to achieve their alliance, well, he married their princesses. This story is not entirely based on historical text. There are some things that Erma Fatima changed to match the story well. Why i decided to review this drama, i still couldnt figure out the reasons other than it was historical fiction and the main characters is 3 woman from different backgroud with similar mind set, to make sure their son take over the throne. Dont get me wrong, History text stated that Sultan Mansur Shah is always being fair to all his wives (yeah, Polygamous marriage has been practiced by royal families for so long). While we are allowed to believe otherwise, it would be nice to have someone to take a deeper look at his wives’s relationship and translate it into drama.

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The first 2 episodes, the story revolves between Sultan Mansur Shah and Raden Galuh Chenderai ; how Sultan Mansur Courting Raden to be his wife right after his queen died. Raden disagree to the whole marriage as she doesnt really know the sultan. His father, the Majapahit king already agrees to the marriage as it would do good to their county to add malacca as their ally. Sultan knew he should try to woo Raden herself. He relentlessly pursuing Galuh by imposing himself as shipping captain who just passing by Majapahit. They exchanges letters a few times until they first laid eyes on each other in the wedding ceremony. Raden knew that he would be a good husband and a great king to her. Who knew such happiness would be just in a short amount of time?

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The third episode when Malacca is under attack from few countries. The threat is getting bigger. Sultan Mansur Shah worried over his kingdom. He then heading to China to strengthen their diplomatic relation on Tun Perak’s suggestion. Raden knew that Sultan Mansur Shah left to take another wife when she overheard palace servants has been ordered to bring the best spices to China. As ridiculous as it sounds, Sultan Mansur Shah in this Drama knows how to cook and charmed all his wives, including Raden and Hang lipo via his culinary skills. Raden tried to stop Sultan Mansur Shah from going to Malacca but it was too late. She was stopped by Hang Tuah. Hang Tuah felt symphatetic towards Raden but His loyalty towards Sultan is his top priority. This, most of us knew, that Hang Tuah placed his loyalty towards Malacca and Sultan above everything. He even killed his best friend, Jebat for Sultan.

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Raden mended her feeling by confiding it to Hang Tuah. Hang Tuah and Raden become close friend when Raden learned Silat from him.However,Their feeling and attraction grew stronger each day. Hang Tuah put his own feeling hidden and rejected Raden nicely. After few months, Sultan returned from China with Hang Lipo. Tuah has been ordered to shift Raden to another palace. Raden felt sad and disappointed but she obeyed. On the other hands, Hang lipo felt suffocated and couldnt find anything that she would like in Malacca. She felt frustrated and Sultan Mansur Shah couldnt find any time to entertain her. Raden took her chance by being a good wife and serve his husband right. However, Sultan Mansur Shah returned to Hang lipo’s side when she managed to get herself pregnant. It was unfortunate to Raden as she couldnt get herself pregnant even married to Sultan for years.

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Raden knew she had to do something. She visited Hang Lipo and tried to appear nice as she can be. Sultan Mansur glad to know about it and wanted his wives to treat each other nicely. Little did he know that it was all an act between his 2 wives. They envied amd couldnt stand each other. Raden hated Hang lipo for bearing son first and Hang lipo hated Raden because she is always the Sultan Favorite. The facade of visiting and spying between each other is normal. They will do anything to let Sultan favor them a little bit than others. Hang Lipo gave birth to son and Raden felt insecure for not being the first one to give Sultan Mansur Shah, an heir though at that time, she’s already pregnant.

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The following episode focuses on how Malacca again is under threat from other prominent states like Inderapura and Siam. Sultan Mansur Shah send Hang Tuah to investigate the issue. Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat went to Inderapura and met Lelawangsa, Inderapura’s princess on the way there. Hang Tuah seize the moment and kidnapped Lelawangsa right away. Sultan Mansur Shah fell sick and the tension arises at the palace. Hang Lipo went to Sultan’s side right away and pretend to care for him as Raden wont be able to do so. Raden is weak at that time prior to her condition after being in labor. Hang Lipo went on badmouthing and accuse others infront of Sultan Mansur Shah after his health has been restored. Sultan Mansur Shah believed her and put Raden in Jail. Puteri Lela Wangsa on the other hands stuck in the situation between wrath of 2 queens after arrived there with Hang Tuah. I wouldnt spoil the ending to you. You guys should watch it in order to know whether Puteri Lela Wangsa end up marrying Sultan Mansur Shah or ran away with Hang Tuah. I bet most of you already know how the ending would be.

Raden Galuh Chenderai portayed by Feby Febiola

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This girl could act. I mean for local standard, her performance is outstanding. I like her character more than others. Yes, she is wicked but she is not 100% evil. What she did in the palace is for her own survival. She never know that Hang lipo will turn more evil than her.

Hang Lipo portrayed by Soo Wincci

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She supposed to be evil. I felt she fell a little short in her character. She just a mean bitch you may have met in High School. Her command in Classic Malay is okay. She can act but not in this role. I guess not everyone could play a convincing evil role.

Sultan Mansur Shah portrayed by Azri Iskandar

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Come on, need i say more? He has a pure talent in acting compared to those group of actors who just depends on good looks. He managed to be a sweet talking husband, sometimes being an unfair assholes to his wives and a sultan who is easily swayed by rumors and false news. I like him when he successfully portrayed this role and i dislike him because this role is just everything that i hate in man ; unfaithful, unfair and pessimist.

Hang Tuan portrayed by Awie

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After the epic tale of Puteri Gunung Ledang of Tiara Jacqueline, i felt no one could bring Hang Tuah alive other than M. Nasir. However, Awie live up to the expectation and didnt disappoint me in the role. I dont know how others felt about it but to me, he nailed it. You can felt the agony in him of loyalty to the Sultan and wanting to follow his own heart. Just watch Awie past films esp. In the 90s, though some of it is very cringing but dude, he performed in each role.

Hang Jebat portrayed by Beto Khusyairi

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I felt he was too intense and emotional in portraying Hang Jebat. In my understanding, Jebat is somehow more rational compared to Tuah. I dont know whether Erma Fatima wanted to Beto to portray Jebat like that or Beto wanted to bring his own depiction in the role. Jebat in this drama always questioning everything, accusing or throwing accusation before investigate it and always being cynical to others including Tuah. If thats how beto really wanted to put his own twist in Jebat character, i guess he did it. Its just me that hate those twist.

Tun Perak portrayed by Datuk Rahim Razali

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Any local film maker knows that having Datuk Rahim Razali in the historical film is an added advantage. He will be perfect for any given roles ; be it advisor, treasurer or warrior. He delivered well in his potrayal as Tun Perak. As a man full of wisdom, he remain composed whenever Sultan Mansur Shah being reckless and lacking in making his own judgment. Aside from his fake wig, i dont have any problem with his role.

Puteri Lela Wangsa portrayed by Erra Fazira

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Puteri Lela wangsa, in my opinion, is the character though short in appearance but making such a big impact to the Drama. Lela wangsa before being kidnapped by Hang Tuah is childish. She has been promised to Siamese Prince and They have been engaged ever since. She is playful and a spoilt princess. After being kidnapped by Hang Tuah, she fell in love with Him during the journey to Malacca. Again, both of them try to hide their feeling. She’s becoming more mature and confronted Hang Tuah about her feeling (whether Hang Tuah did accept it or reject it, i will not spoilt it.) Go watch it, guys.

KIL (2013) – Local (Malaysian) Film Review

By The Gorgeous Palah Chingu (This would be my shortest review ever as i dont have much to say about it).

KIL
My Rating: 3/5

I don’t always watch local film but when I do, it always tainted by a bad script and mediocre actors. Remember when I said that I like bollywood films (though it is overdose with illogical action stunts and sometimes with lengthy unnecessary story line) than my own local films? It is all because of our local films usually end products of bad script and mediocre actors. I am going to be brutally honest, I did watch some of local films back then, and there are certain films that I like. Some of the local films that I like are Songlap, Tanda Putera, Puteri Gunung ledang, Merong Mahawangsa, Sekali lagi, Bohsia: Jangan Pilih Jalan Hitam (shaheizy sam and salina saibi are among good actors in malaysia) and some of old stuffs back in P.Ramlee time. All of them are not so bad but to be considered as good film entirely, ehhh… I don’t know.

How to redeem KIL in my review? I am not planning to be a bitch saying I don’t like it, and don’t tell why. Fortunately, there is something that I like in this film. On that remark, I will start with a good points. First, the idea is totally abnormal (not in a bad way but in a good way). The film begins with the story of suicidal boy, a girl he met a few days after he decided to end his life and his involvement with some sort of agency that assists in staging the suicide. I don’t get that from my own film industry. They always produced a recycled love story over and over again. Film like this gives me a similar feeling back then when I watched Songlap (2011). There is my first point, why I don’t hate this film. It was because of a very peculiar idea and story in the film.

Akil & Zara
Akil & Zara

Second, there is no cheesy love line or the first at love sight moment that I usually encounter when watching local film. It is just the 2 strangers; Akil and Zara live in the same building somewhere at Kuala Lumpur. They ended up bumping into each other at KTM and Elevator. Zara suspected Akil of stalking her and apologized to him as it turned to be a misundersatnding because they live in the same building. They became friends and enjoyed each other company. It is simple and it doesn’t always have to be love to tied main characters in the story. The third point is this film marking a debut of new director, Nik Amir Mustapha. He got gut and vision. He doesn’t debut with overdose cheesy romantic film that I can’t stand of. He tried a very unconventional approach to make his debut. He succeeded though he got many things to improve in this film.

Why I don’t like it? Oh my god, the script was written by the director of this film. He is good in directing, I like the flow of the film but I despised the script. It was bad script. He should give someone much more expert to revise his script. The raw idea of the script should not be amended but it needs upgrading in some aspects. The other things that I don’t like are the main actors of the film, Redza Minhat and Christina Suzanne. The film could have been better if they are portrayed by some of the good actors (though I admit that we are so freaking lack of ) in Malaysia. They both can act, but failed to make me feel the emotions. I don’t know whether their mediocrity of acting or I am just some emotionless person.

This film somehow showed that our local film industry could breakthrough and continues their effort in producing unconventional films in the future. I lauded the good try by the director of this film.