Malaysia's fascination with gangsters varies from mild to obsessive, which leads to the dominating culture of gangster films in the local film industry, next to horror comedies. Most of them tend to be cliché and laughable, but every now and then there comes a gangster film that sheds a whole new light on the culture of gangsterism in the country. Here are some of our favourite Malaysian gangster films:
"KL Gangster 2"
The sequel to the Malaysian gangster classic, "KL Gangster" has promised a hard hitting, crime filled action flick worthy for the movie theatres. As the prequel to "KL Gangster", the film takes fans back to the past of the two gangster brothers named Malek and Jai. When their father dies leaving them with debts to gangsters, Malek and Jai are forced to fend for themselves but the brothers end up taking radically different paths, with Malek staying on the straight and narrow while Jai joins a gang. The sibling rivalry is taken to new heights when their mother is diagnosed with cancer, and Malek is forced to join a rival gang in order to earn enough money for her treatments.
The film is so highly anticipated that someone even leaked a copy of the film online a month before its official release date, which led to pirated copies of the film being sold at local night markets. With a controversy like that, it will no doubt be one of the local gangster films to remember.
"Kepong Gangster" is a dark gangster piece by Malaysian Chinese filmmakers, and it has been well-received for the film's realistic plot and high production values. The Kepong in "Kepong Gangster" is a Malaysian Chinese gangster-filled neighbourhood, and it is a story of secondary school students who end up joining gangs for different reasons, including protection from bullies, financial problems, power struggles and various other temptations.
Loosely translated as "A Gangster Head's Soul", "Jiwa Taiko" stars Remy Ishak and Bront Palarae about four individuals who meet in Wira Cinta, a club where all of them learn martial arts and discover themselves, when someone from their dark past turns up at the club. This Osman Ali-directed film is not only a gangster film. It is also a social drama about discovering the meaning of friendship and love, which is often taken for granted.
"8 Jam" tells the story of an orphan who has to live on the streets after his mother was killed by street gangsters. He was sent to an orphanage but he was unable to fit in due to their background differences, and grows up becoming a gangster himself. An unexpected turn of events leaves him framed for murder, and sentenced to death by hanging, with only eight hours to prove his innocence. The insane plotline, mixed well with action-packed scenes and Shaheizy Sam's acting skills has made this a modern classic for local gangster films.
In this yet another Shaheizy Sam gangster film, "Bini-Biniku Gangster" is a comedic take on local gangsters. The film is about a wife who hides the fact that she leads a pack of gangsters from her husband. Not being able to bear children, she searches for someone to give her husband a child, and also to divert attention away from her and her gangster group.
With a ridiculous plotline that also looks like something plucked from the fantasies of a Malaysian man, the film tackles the gangster genre and adds comedy with the action to differentiate this film from the others and the effort has to be commended.
Before you groan at the fact that this film is yet another Shaheizy Sam film, there is a reason why he is cast in all of them. "Kongsi" is about various triad members who are in shambles when they discover the presence of a hired killer named Tumulak (played by Shaheizy Sam), who committed the killings to settle his debts. Shaheizy Sam's character can be described as iconic because of the way he portrayed the Thai assassin and it is one of the major reasons why this film has landed on our list besides the extraordinary fight sequences and Farid Kamil's "raw" direction.
Probably the most iconic Malaysian gangster film of all time, "KL Gangster" is one of the first Malaysian-made films to reach past the RM 10 million mark, beating the overall record held by horror film "Ngangkung". Directed by Syamsul Yusof, who also stars in the film alongside Aaron Aziz and Ady Putra, the film is praised for being "realistic", "gritty" and how "the effectiveness of the characters managed to impress the audience and makes the story interesting to watch."
Cinema Online, 24 September 2013