Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Malaysian social network

Relationship Status
My rating:

Now here's a neat idea for a film: a Love Actually-style (or God forbid, Valentine's Day-style) series of interconnected stories that each represent the various relationship statuses that Facebook allows you to post, namely Single, In A Relationship, It's Complicated, Engaged, Married, Divorced and Widowed. (What, no Separated?) And at the same time, a look at modern love and romance in the era of online social networking. Not a bad little high-concept idea at all, one you'd expect someone in Hollywood to have come up with before Khairil M. Bahar, the Malaysian filmmaker who wrote, directed, edited and even acted in it. I've seen his short in 2009's 15Malaysia project, which I thought was cute but otherwise unimpressive; also, he appears to be part of - or at least close friends with - Perantauan Pictures, under whose banner this movie was released, and whose previous feature film I found to be less than impressive (although it seems Khairil wasn't involved in that one).

Fortunately, Relationship Status is definitely better than The Joshua Tapes. But it kinda stumbled in the last lap.

Dave (Gavin Yap) is a magazine writer in an open relationship with Anna (Davina Goh) - or at least, he was, until they had an argument. His roommate Joe (Khairil Bahar) is still recovering from a bad breakup. His editor Selena (Susan Lankester) is still coming to terms with the recent death of her husband. The IT guy at his office Eugene (Benji Lim) is ready to propose to his filmmaker girlfriend May (Amanda Ang), but faces opposition from his family, particularly his sister (Adeline Ong). Two subjects in May's documentary film are Nina (Shuba Jay) and her boyfriend (Alfred Loh) who met on Facebook. The office's receptionist Hawa (Ruzana Ibrahim) is pregnant and happily married to her husband Ramli (Baki Zainal). Her old schoolmate is Trisha (Daphne Iking), who is going through a divorce from her husband Jason (Tony Eusoff) following his affair with Anna - whose torch that she still carries for him is partly the cause of her argument with Dave.

Relationship Status is that rarest of animals: the Malaysian-made film that caters to an urban, sophisticated, English-speaking audience. Which is pretty damn rare in a film industry that almost exclusively targets unsophisticated Malays and Mandarin-speaking Chinese (even if that second market was created a scant 2 years ago). And I think it's one that that audience would enjoy a lot. The script is witty and often very funny, with occasional ribald humour and even a masturbation joke. There are a couple of mentions of Sid's Pub, a KL watering hole whose regular clientele are exactly the kind of people this movie is aimed at. There's even a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy reference, which isn't explained for anyone who doesn't recognise the line from that book. One of the joys of local films is getting to see people, places and situations from your own life up on screen, and this movie has it in spades for a segment of Malaysians who've never had that opportunity.

Particularly in regards to its depiction of love and romance in the Facebook era. Khairil's screenplay displays a great deal of insight into how online social media affects relationships, and I'm sure it'll evoke many a pang of recognition - whether it's the heartbroken guy who keeps stalking his ex's FB profile, or the grieving widow trying to guess her late husband's password in order to access his still-active page, or the disapproving family who cites pictures of the girlfriend partying at clubs as grounds for their disapproval. But despite its insightfulness, there's still a somewhat, well, gormless approach to Facebook and online social media. It's like Selena's magazine's upcoming cover story on social media. Yes, just that - social media. Anything specific about social media? No, just social media - like it's still this shiny newfangled thing worthy of magazine cover stories in freakin' 2012. That's what I mean by gormless.

Which brings us to the film's biggest problem: it has no ending. I'm not kidding. Almost every single one of these stories ends with absolutely no resolution; one exception being Dave's and Anna's, and even that one employs the cliché of the guy running across the city to tell the girl he loves her. (The other one being Selena's, who manages to come to terms with her husband's passing - but then again, does she ever actually find his FB password? We don't know!) Does Eugene stand up to his asshole family? Does Joe get over himself? Does Hawa's and Ramli's marriage survive? Do Trisha and Jason reconcile? None of these questions are answered, which is just bloody frustrating. Every couple's relationship in this story either starts off rocky or becomes rocky, and the movie pretty much just leaves them there. And for the ones who start off happy but become troubled, it's always because of Facebook.

Seriously, I think most people will come out of this movie with one takeout: "Facebook ruins relationships!" Which is just an annoyingly Luddite attitude that I'd been led to believe this film was above. I don't know if it was deliberate or accidental, but with a character like Nina - the Facebook addict who suspects her boyfriend is cheating on her just because he talks to someone on the phone whom she doesn't know, which makes her a bloody shallow and insecure twit - it doesn't seem very accidental. It's like Khairil wants to raise the question of whether Facebook is a good or a bad thing, and seems to learn toward the latter - which is a bad answer, because it's the wrong question. Facebook is neither a good nor bad thing; it is a thing, that has already irreversibly changed the way we communicate. Just like it's past time for any magazine that has any shred of relevance to write stories about social media, it's past time to ask whether it's good or bad. What we should be asking is how to make it good and avoid the bad; to use it well, instead of allowing it to magnify our worst instincts.

For a while there, Relationship Status was almost the movie to ask, and attempt to answer, that question. The fact that it failed is why I didn't rate it higher - but the fact that it's still an entertaining, well-written, well-crafted little film is why I didn't rate it lower. (Reasonably well-acted too; nothing outstanding, but nothing jarringly poor either. With the exception of Will Quah, who seemed to forget that he's playing a guy who's father had just died.) I'm still quite mightily impressed by Khairil's writing and direction, and I'd love to see more from him. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to its target audience of English-educated, Facebook-connected, in-love-or-seeking-it young Malaysians, as I'm sure they'd enjoy it. And it's still got a killer high concept, one that may even earn it some attention from overseas. It's just a pity it didn't fully live up to all that potential.

NEXT REVIEW: Ah Beng The Movie: Three Wishes
Expectations: bit iffy about this one

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Flying blobs of blurry CGI

Flying Swords of Dragon Gate
My rating:

I seem to be alone in my indifference to Tsui Hark's previous film, Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame. Folks like Roger Ebert and Noel Murray of AV Club have given it glowing reviews, and though you could chalk that up to gweilos' unfamiliarity with - and therefore lower standards for - Asian martial arts movies, it also made a ton of money in Hong Kong. But there's simply no denying that Tsui made some of the greatest Hong Kong films of all time, including quite a few personal favourites. This, plus Kozo of LoveHKFilm's positive review, finally convinced me to check out Flying Swords of Dragon Gate, a sort-of-sequel-cum-reimagining of his own 1992 Dragon Inn, and maybe give the new Tsui Hark - as opposed to '80s-and-'90s Tsui Hark - another chance.

It's better than Detective Dee. But like that movie, it's still a mess.

The thoroughly corrupt East and West Bureaus, given carte blanche powers by the Emperor, rule Ming Dynasty China with an iron grip. But Zhao Huai'an (Jet Li) opposes them, and has just crippled the West Bureau by taking out its leader (Gordon Liu). But the head of the East Bureau, the eunuch Yu Huatian (Aloys Chen), is a much more cunning opponent - however, he has his hands full tracking down a runaway palace maid named Su Huirong (Mavis Fan) who may be pregnant with the Emperor's illegitimate child. Huirong is rescued and aided by a masked female warrior (Zhou Xun) - who has also adopted the name Zhao Huai'an - and taken to the Dragon Inn, a "black inn" at the edge of the desert and frequented by various criminals and lowlifes. But whilst there, they must hide from the West Bureau men hunting them, led by their Deputy Chief (Sheng Chien), who cross swords with a band of Tartar bandits led by Princess Buludu (Guey Lun-Mei) who are also shacking up there. And then a travelling warrior named Gu Shaotang (Li Yuchun) arrives to add even more fuel to the fire - especially when her companion, a goofy non-fighter named Wind Blade (Aloys Chen), is a dead ringer for Yu Huatian. It turns out some of these folks are searching for a lost, treasure-filled city hidden under the desert sands - plus, there's a sandstorm of Biblical proportions heading their way.

LoveHKFilm probably put it best: this is a throwback to the wild, freewheeling, purely fun Hong Kong period kungfu movies of the '90s, a trend that Tsui himself probably created single-handedly. I have no particular love for films of this sort, although I reckon I can enjoy one if it's really good. This isn't. There are fun parts, but there's just too much of Tsui's kitchen-sink approach (that also spoiled Detective Dee) to coalesce into a proper movie - or even a proper narrative. There's two characters going by the same name, both of whom have a shared tragic backstory; there's a damsel in distress that at least one of them is trying to rescue (or is she? And why?); then there's the inn which has a penchant for serving human flesh, and there's more than a fair bit of casual cannibalism here; then there's a new faction of dubious morality that lock horns with the established antagonists; then another two characters of mysterious intentions arrive at the inn, one of whom introduces the wacky face double hijinks. All this before even the lost city.

Yes, it's all a great big mess; albeit an entertaining one, but only fitfully so. Kungfu films of the '90s showcased spectacular fight scenes, even if they were usually of the wire-fu variety - but the artificial, CGI-laden ones here will make a martial arts aficionado long for the good old days of wire-fu. They're dull, and the cartoony jumping-and-flying CGI figures are more likely to evoke laughs rather than thrills. (Tsui hired the SFX supervisor of Avatar for this film, and to be fair, the environmental vistas are pretty good - the human figures, not so much.) Maybe because it was filmed in 3D - which is, as usual, not the format I watched it in - in which case it appears Tsui's approach to making a 3D kungfu film is to lose all the stunning athleticism and intricate choreography of martial arts. Or you could point the blame at the cast, of whom only Jet Li - and maybe some of the minor baddies - have any kungfu background.

But then again, neither did folks like Maggie Cheung, Brigitte Lin, Anita Mui and Leslie Cheung, all of whom looked fine playing various wuxia badasses in their heyday. It's just as likely that the current crop of pan-Chinese stars simply lack the magnetic screen presence of their predecessors, even if Zhou Xun can do fine in roles that don't call for her to kick ass. But that doesn't explain why Jet Li is practically phoning it in. And it doesn't explain why the characters are so thin, the typical wuxia themes of honour, righteousness and love they play out so half-baked they might as well have not been in there. It may have been because of the dubbing, which makes everyone sound stiff and stilted even though the version I watched was in Mandarin and most of the cast are mainland Chinese.

To be fair, Guey Lun-Mei seems to be having a hell of a good time playing Lusty Exotic Warrior Princess. And the other good performance is a dual one from Aloys Chen, who plays both the prissy eunuch villain and the doofus amongst kungfu warriors with no kungfu skills of his own and makes them both instantly distinctive. Around the halfway mark, the various characters coalesce into two opposing factions, and although the good guys don't entirely trust each other, at least it's not as confusing to keep track of who's where and wants what. Some of the plotting is quite clever, especially the ingenious scheme to break the everyone-stuck-in-the-inn-and-wanting-to-kill-each-other stalemate. As messy as it is, it's never boring or tiresome.

So yes, it's an improvement over Detective Dee, and I'm hopeful it'll herald even better movies from Tsui. Maybe it's just taking him a while to get back into his '90s groove. I think he's still got it; he just needs to get better adjusted to the changes in the Chinese film industry over the past quarter-century. Like CGI. And actors inexperienced at the kind of larger-than-life scenery-chewing roles that his brand of wuxia demands. And his own lack of practice at making that same kind of movie for which he became famous. On behalf of Hong Kong movie fans everywhere, I sure hope he's still got it.

NEXT REVIEW: Relationship Status
Expectations: cautiously optimistic

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The deerstalker cap might've helped

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
My rating:

I had a lot of fun watching 2009's Sherlock Holmes, or so my 4-star rating would indicate. Yet I can barely remember a thing about it now - and I certainly didn't feel much in the way of anticipation about its sequel. I honestly don't know why. (Maybe it's just because writing reviews for this blog has gotten to be a drag lately; I know, I took frickin' forever to finish the Songlap review, I know.) I even had to go read my review of the first film just to remind myself what I thought of it. In any case, despite good box-office returns and generally positive reviews, there's been little buzz about this sequel; it doesn't seem like there's a huge lot of folks chomping at the bit to catch the latest cinematic adventures of the Guy Ritchie-directed, Robert Downey, Jr-acted Sherlock Holmes. I dunno, I may be wrong.

And maybe that lack of anticipation is why this movie failed to wow me as much as the first one did.

Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr.) is hot on the trail of the "Napoleon of Crime", Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), who has been masterminding a series of terrorist bombings throughout Europe. And Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) is about to marry his beloved Mary (Kelly Reilly) and settle down into quiet domesticity, but of course he can't help but get caught up in Holmes' game of globe-trotting cat-and-mouse with the criminal mastermind. This time, they are aided by Holmes' brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry), who is just as brilliant and even more eccentric, and by the gypsy fortuneteller Madame Simza (Noomi Rapace), whose brother may be involved in Moriarty's plot; however, their nemesis has on his side Sebastian Moran (Paul Anderson), an expert marksman and assassin. Their quest to stop his plot - to start a world war among the great powers of Europe - will take them from England to Germany, France, and lastly Sweden. Specifically, Reichenbach Falls.

Normally, I'd be the last person to complain about a clever, fast-moving plot that demands its audience be quick enough to catch up with it. But for much of its running time, I couldn't help thinking it was moving too fast and being too clever. Its breakneck pace is hard to keep up with, especially when it comes to its occasional non-linearity; e.g. Holmes has a brilliant plan that he had put together a few scenes ago, which we see as a flashback, and that is now coming together. Honestly, I can appreciate clever storytelling, and I can appreciate a blockbuster action hero who's definitive trait is his ingenuity, and not just his ass-kickingness. And of course, this Holmes has plenty of ass-kickingness; like the first movie, it shows Holmes visualising his moves before the fight even begins, then executing them like a 19th century Jason Bourne, and it's still pretty cool.

It's just... let me put it this way. It's the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest of the Sherlock Holmes series. It's more of the same, only more - more action, more explosions, more comedy, more buddy-banter between Watson and Holmes, and some things get lost in the tradeoff. One of them being that delicate thing known as tone. Guy Ritchie is clearly deliberately eschewing the stodgy Victorian manner of previous Sherlock Holmes adaptations and going for a more modern, down-to-earth feel. Which can be fun at parts, like how Sherlock and Mycroft call each other "Sherly" and "Myccie" - and also feel incongruously un-Sherlock-Holmes-like at parts, like Holmes and Watson coming to comical buddy-action blows (more so than the one punch Watson gave Holmes in the first) over a humourous misunderstanding. It's not so much Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson as it is Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.

It somehow feels a little too flippant in the beginning, and Holmes' eccentricities played too much for laughs and making him too much of a comical figure. And yet there are scenes that seem to aim for pathos, involving the (seeming!) death of a carryover character from the first movie. These, and the few other more serious scenes, just don't work; Ritchie seems like he'd rather rush through them to get to the next action sequence or quip-laden dialogue scene. (Or he'll intercut it with an action sequence, e.g. what should be a pretty harrowing bit where Moriarty tortures a captured Holmes.) The Madame Simza character is supposed to have a dramatic subplot, but the movie gives her little to do and then pretty much forgets she was there towards the end.

Yet I can't deny that for sheer, popcorn-munching, blockbuster thrills, it delivers. Jude Law and Downey, Jr. still have crack chemistry, and the latter is as much fun to watch here as he was in the Iron Man movies. There's a chase scene through a forest in which our heroes run through a storm of bullets and bombshells that dips in and out of slow-motion, and while that's become a much-overused technique, Ritchie still makes it cool and terrifically thrilling. The quips and gags are funny, and a smart action movie is still a rare enough pleasure to be pleasurable. And it builds nicely to an effective climax, in which Holmes and Moriarty face off in a battle of wits and only wits - no guns, cannons or henchmen around. It would probably be more fun on a rewatch, when you can pore over all the little things that you had trouble keeping up with. I considered giving it 4 stars just for that.

But ultimately no, I have to say it falls short of that level. Stephen Fry as Mycroft is wasted; he's supposed to be an even more brilliant mind than Holmes, yet there he is at the big climax and provides no help at all. The aforementioned returning character from the first film is also done a grave injustice (can you say "fridged"?). Jared Harris tries mightily to be the Hannibal Lecter of Victorian England, but the movie's tone doesn't let him. And the plot isn't really as clever as it thinks it is. (If a Criminal Mastermind has a henchman at the scene of a planned assassination to silence the assassin in case said assassination fails - with a Secret Disguised Weapon to boot - why not get the henchman to do the assassinating?) Ultimately, it's a movie with Sherlock Holmes in the title that just doesn't feel like Sherlock Holmes. The first one still did, even though it put Arthur Conan Doyle's character in a Hollywood blockbuster buddy-action movie. This one took it a little too far.

NEXT REVIEW: Flying Swords of Dragon Gate
Expectations: Tsui Hark, don't let me down again

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Kegelapan yang mampu menyinari dunia filem tempatan

My rating:

Cuba tengok trailer untuk filem ini. Adakah ia trailer yang hebat atau trailer yang sungguh hebat? Dengan halus ia menyampaikan segala yang perlu kita tahu tentang filem Songlap: watak utama dua adik-beradik, dunia gelap dimana mereka hidup, pekerjaan haram yang mereka lakukan, beza antara perwatakan mereka berdua yang merenggangkan hubungan mereka, dan watak ketiga yang mendatangkan dilema moral yang dihadapi oleh kedua-dua watak utama. Malah kita difahamkan juga, filem ini ada dialog yang bersahaja, adegan aksi yang mencemaskan, babak lucu yang halus, dan semuanya diiringi lagu "Gila Judi" nyanyian M. Daud Kilau yang bernada sinis. Semua ini dalam 1 minit 40 saat. (Gambarnya cantik tajam HD-quality pulak tu.) Tapi setelah menonton filem ini, saya terpaksa mengaku rasa kecewa atas satu perkara.

Mutu gambarnya tak tajam macam dalam trailer. Yang lainnya semuanya hebat dan sungguh hebat.

Ad (Syafie Naswip) dan Am (Shaheizy Sam) adalah dua adik-beradik yang terlibat dalam sindiket penjualan bayi dan perdagangan manusia, yang dikerjakan oleh Abang Mat (Hasnul Rahmat) dan diketuai oleh seorang perempuan yang dikenali sebagai Mama (Eliza Wong). Am puas mencari makan dari kegiatan haram dan berjudi, tapi adiknya Ad mengimpikan kehidupan yang lebih baik. Ad menaruh harapan keatas satu pertandingan tarian B-boy, impian yang dikongsinya dengan rakan karibnya Razak (Izzue Islam) - tetapi selepas Razak meninggal dunia akibat mengambil dadah berlebihan, Ad mula mengunjung seorang pelacur tua (Normah Damanhuri) untuk meluahkan perasaan. Sementara itu, seorang gadis bernama Hawa (Sara Ali) yang sarat mengandung melarikan diri dari rumah, lalu terjebak kedalam sindiket penjualan bayi yang menjaganya sehingga dia beranak. Apabila Ad mendapat tahu Hawa adalah adik Razak, Ad membuat keputusan melarikan Hawa dari cengkaman sindiket itu - keputusan yang mengakibatkan Keong (Berg Lee), enforcer yang ganas, memburu mereka. Disamping itu, Hawa juga diburu oleh bapanya (Omar Abdullah) yang kejam dan pendera.

Dah lama saya menunggu filem sebegini. Hampir kesemua filem tempatan adalah jenis hiburan ringan; ini termasuk filem aksi "serius" macam KL Gangster, filem melodrama tearjerker macam Ombak Rindu, mahupun filem epik sejarah "epik" macam Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa. Semuanya hanya menawarkan kenikmatan satu lapis; bila kita tengok kita rasa terkesan, samada gelak ketawa, gentar atau terharu. Tapi bila dah tamat, kesannya pun tamat. Kita tidak diundang berfikir - dan kalau fikir balik pun, tiada apa-apa makna baru yang dapat dicari. Jujur kata, tak salah ada filem sebegini mahupun menonton filem sebegini. TMBF pun boleh menikmati hiburan ringan jika ia dibuat dengan baik. Tapi kalau nak dunia filem tempatan membangun - dan kalau kita nak jadi penonton filem yang arif dan matang - mesti ada juga filem yang lebih berat. Daging memang sedap, tapi takkan hari-hari makan daging saja sampai sayur-sayuran tak pernah jamah? Tak sihat macam tu. Inilah filem yang ibarat hidangan sayur-sayuran - berkhasiat, baik untuk anda, dan tak kurang sedapnya dari daging.

Jangan salah faham. Ini bukan filem seni yang susah dihayati macam At the End of Daybreak (ataupun macam ... Dalam Botol, filem tempatan yang sama berat dan dalamnya, tetapi lain sekali genrenya). Ini filem drama jenayah yang biasa dilihat dalam arus perdana filem Barat, macam American Gangster atau Carlito's Way, dan sudah tiba masa kita ada filem tempatan sebegini. Penceritaannya halus dan sarat dengan makna, yang tidak susah difahami jika anda menontonnya dengan memasang otak. Babak dimana Abang Mat memarahi seorang kerana menampar muka gadis yang bakal dijualnya - "Bodoh! Muka ko jangan sentuh!" - adalah antara contoh bagaimana filem ini menyirat makna kedalam ceritanya. Jika wajah gadis ini kini menjadi sesuatu yang berharga, nasib apa yang bakal menemuinya kalau bukan pelacuran? Tapi perkataan ini tak pernah disebut sekali pun; cuma ia boleh disingkap oleh penonton yang bijak. Tiada sebarang baris dialog on the nose yang bertujuan semata-mata untuk menjelaskan perkara kepada audiens. Segala-galanya realistik mengikut watak yang dicipta dan dunia yang didiami oleh mereka.

Inilah gaya penceritaan yang harus ada dalam filem yang matang dan canggih. Songlap penuh dengan babak-babak begini - tetapi mari saya huraikan sesuatu yang mungkin tidak begitu jelas. Tahukah apa beza diantara Ad dan Am yang paling pokok? Bukan sekadar seorang baik dan seorang lagi tamakkan duit; itu hanya permukaan. Ad ada kawan karib iaitu Razak; Am tak pernah bermesra dengan sesiapa meskipun adiknya sendiri. Ad mahu berjumpa dengan ibu mereka tetapi Am tidak; kita sedar Am mungkin membenci ibunya kerana pernah didera semasa kecil (dalam sebuah adegan lagi yang menampakkan penceritaan yang halus), tapi tentu Ad pun pernah mengalami penderaan. Rujuk adegan dimana Ad berada di kelab tarian, berlaku perkelahian kecil antara dua penari yang ditenangkan oleh ahli-ahli kelab lain dengan kata "We fam! We fam!" - lalu Ad tersenyum lebar menyaksikan peristiwa ini. Inilah beza diantara kedua-dua adik-beradik ini: Am seorang penyendiri, manakala Ad dahagakan hubungan sesama manusia. Beza inilah yang menggerak segala langkah mereka dalam cerita ini.

Hakikatnya ini sebuah cerita yang gelap. Sindiket penjualan bayi ini melibatkan seorang doktor dan jururawat yang kelihatan segak dan profesional - malah doktor itu pada luarannya baik hati - tetapi kedua-duanya korup sama sekali. Malah Mama, ketua sindiket itu, dimainkan oleh Eliza Wong, pelakon Cina yang berwajah manis dan pernah saya lihat berlakon dalam iklan serbuk pencuci sebagai suri rumah Cina biasa. Namun Mama ni zalim sezalim-zalimnya, menperdagangkan manusia dan mengarahkan pembunuhan kejam sesiapa yang mengingkarinya. Kegelapan filem ini juga sesuatu yang amat berani dan berlainan dari filem-filem Melayu lain; ia berani mengatakan bahawa dunia bukan hitam putih, baik dan jahat tidak mengenal rupa, dan didalam setiap insan ada yang bersih dan yang kotor. Ia faham bahawa takdir seseorang terletak pada jalan yang mereka pilih. Dan ia berani mengatakan bahawa dalam dunia sebenar, tiada sebarang apa happy ending; ini mendatangkan saspens yang cukup berkesan ketika menanti-nanti bagaimana kesudahannya bagi Ad, Am dan Hawa. Boleh saya kata kesudahannya bukan sesuatu yang anda akan jangka.

Adakah ianya sebuah filem yang sempurna? Sudah tentu tidak; penataan bunyi masih ada yang kurang elok, terutama semasa babak pergaduhan. Lakonan dari semua pelakon cukup memuaskan, tetapi pelakon-pelakon utama iaitu Shaheizy Sam, Syafie Naswip dan Sara Ali masih belum sempat menunjukkan persembahan yang benar-benar mencapai tahap keagungan. Dan ia ada satu dua babak ganas yang saya rasa tak cukup ganas; filem jenayah Barat macam Goodfellas dan Scarface tak segan nak tunjuk pertumpahan darah, sebab begitulah realiti dunia jenayah. (Satu lagi ialah poster tu; boleh diperbaiki wei.) Namun saya rasa inilah filem tempatan terbaik yang pernah saya lihat dalam hampir 3 tahun saya mengulas filem tempatan; lebih baik dari mana-mana filem tempatan yang saya beri rating 4 bintang, malah hampir membuat saya memberinya 4-½ bintang. Ia sempurna dari segi segala yang disasarkan oleh pengarah dan penulisnya, Effendee Mazlan dan Fariza Azlina Izahak, berjaya dicapai. Ini sebuah filem yang saya sedia puji kepada sesiapa yang berpendapat semua filem Melayu bangang dan buruk - malah saya berharap saudara Effendee dan saudari Fariza akan menghantarnya ke festival filem luar negara. Ini sebuah filem yang mampu mengharumkan nama negara kita.

NEXT REVIEW: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Expectations: I liked the first, but can hardly remember a thing about it now