ReviewWriter: Pairamaporn Buranakol Writer Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"Buli", "Bulik Balik", "Karate Kid"
The film's marketing campaign made it seem like this was going to be an extraordinary film. After all, instead of following the footsteps of the usual Malaysian films that are often copies of Spanish soap operas or those local C-grade horror flicks we are so often inundated with, they've decided that we need to see some skin! Lots of it. Big bottoms, breasts and legs jiggle all over this film - but they are just the wrong kind. It's a group of sweaty, half-naked sumo wrestlers getting ready to rumble.
The movie starts off with Ramlee (Afdlin Shauki) getting his bike repossessed. It results in him losing his job and disappointing his already unhappy mother. With no money, no job and no future, it seems almost too good to be true when he is offered a challenge by sushi restaurant owner Honda (Patrick Teoh) to finish off 20 plates of sushi within a minute. He tries, and fails due to two unscrupulous workers at the restaurant, and is forced to work at the restaurant to pay off his debt instead.
At the Boleh Sushi shop, Ramlee becomes smitten with Honda's beautiful daughter, Siti (Inthira Charoenpura), and finds friends in Harith (Awie) and Andy (Radhi Khalid). Forced to work hard for the first time in his life following the owner's 'Japanese way of hard work', his life begins to take a turn for the better. He also begins to impress Siti, which is what he was aiming to do in the first place.
However, a rival for Siti's affections soon turns up in the form of her ex-boyfriend, Akira (Gurmit Singh), who ends up humiliating Ramlee during a friendly bout of sumo. Ramlee soon finds out that he was tricked into working for Boleh Sushi because Honda's team was one man short for the Malaysian Sushi Association Amateur Sumo Wrestling Championships, held by the local Japanese owners of sushi restaurants.
Ramlee is forced to make a choice: to stay with the restaurant and fight with the possibility of going up against Akira; or quit to avoid more humiliation.
I've been looking forward to the film for quite some time now, and with the delay on the film's release, the anticipation was even greater. When I finally got to see it, however, I must say I felt a little disappointed. With all the hype, I really expected more.
Although the movie is funny in most parts (except for the insults exchanged between Akira and Ramlee which seemed juvenile and more befitting of the type of mud slinging you might hear on high school grounds), the whole piece didn't look quite finished. It was almost as if there was supposed to be more to be seen. I heard that the film was originally about 4 hours long. Evidently, most of it has wound up on the cutting room floor. No wonder the whole film felt and looked disjointed. There were some lengthy, unnecessary scenes, and although the funny bits made up for it slightly - they did nothing to enhance the story.
Another irritant was the amount of references to the main sponsors of the film - Celcom and Ogawa. The ads turned the film from a possible winner to a 'movie-slash-advertisement' for the two brands. The fact that I can remember the scenes showing both the sponsors instead of the better moments in the movie bodes well for the two sponsors, but it does the opposite for the producers. Apparently Ogawa chairs are a prerequisite for all sumo wrestlers. They are in need of a good massage after being thrown around so much. As for Celcom, it was everywhere in the ringtones, banners and even in a scene where Ramlee is looking for a job - the camera zooms into a job advertisement for Celcom!
Afdlin delivers a comedic performance as the typical lazy man. Some of his funniest scenes were when he tries to devour 20 plates of sushi in less than a minute, and when he ends up in the sumo ring for the first time. Awie and Radhi Khalid were not too bad in their roles as Ramlee's newfound friends at the sushi restaurant. Patrick Teoh's performance as Honda was believable - yet marred by the Japanese-accented English voice he had to put on. Look out for a scene when Teoh takes on 4 sumo wrestlers - with the sound effects added on, it lends credibility to the fact that this old man is not someone to mess around with!
Gurmit Singh was one of the main selling points of this movie (who doesn't know "Phua Chu Kang" and his famous "don pray-pray" phrase?). Sadly, he isn't given much to say here. The lines he delivers in Japanese were lacking in emotion. Thai actress Inthira Chareonpura plays Siti, the half-Malay, half-Japanese daughter of Patrick Teoh's character, Honda (there's a hidden joke in their names; see if you can catch it). However, sweet as she is, Inthira doesn't play a pivotal part in the movie, and seems to be there as just another pretty face who lacks conviction when speaking in Japanese.
Theatre actor Gavin Yap, who plays the role of Mickey from Akira's Diamond Sushi team is the slimmest sumo wrestler I've ever seen. Although his role looks like it was added in for comic relief, Yap ends up acting (and sounding) like a gremlin on drugs, complete with irritating snickers, sneers and yelps. It seems fitting to the role however, that he has a scene parodying that famous incident involving the infamous Mike Tyson.
The film could have had less narration (Afdlin Shauki as the Narrator here) and allowed the scenes to speak for themselves - having a detailed explanation rather than invoking subtle humour over the possible faux pas
spoiled the moments for me. However, near the end of the film, the story starts to pick up again but by this time the movie has been going on for so long, you can't be bothered to pick up the little hidden messages woven into the story - such as the numerous social commentaries aimed at lazy people.
In true Malaysian style, the movie ends up being a bowl of rojak
- sweet, sour and spicy - yet lacking in that 'oomph' or 'kick' to make it the best dish around.Cinema Online, 23 September 2008