Stylistic Malaysian films
Writer: Dzamira Dzafri
"KIL", out this 30 May in Malaysia, has proved to be one of the productions that would revolutionise modern Malaysian films, based on current reviews and the film's status as one of the five Malaysian films to screen at Cannes Film Festival. Viewers mostly praised the film for its out-of-the-ordinary storyline and exceptional cinematography. So what are the other films before "KIL" that were engaging narrative-wise and visually fantastic? Take a look at some of the most ambitious and artistic Malaysian films below.
The first thing you would notice in the trailers and press shots are that "KIL" has unique independent-style cinematography. With mostly bluish-tones and lots of contrast, "KIL" has a stamp on their film to stand out. The film tells and story of a depressed young man called Akil who hires an assassination agency that helps kill suicidal people. He then changes his mind when he falls for a girl he meets, Zara. With "KIL" coming very soon in theatres, you can expect raw performances, inspired direction by Nik Amir, beautiful cinematography and a great soundtrack, according to our very own review, which you can find linked below this feature.
There is a reason why "Bunohan" had been Malaysia's official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category in the 85th Academy Awards in February 2013. The only other film to have ever received such feat was "Puteri Gunung Ledang" back in 2004. In addition, the film has received countless awards and nominations all over Asia, and notably winning Best Picture and Best Director (and six others!) at the 25th Malaysian Film Festival.
Director Dain Iskandar manages to make the film about three estranged brothers: a young Muay Thai kick-boxer, the assassin hired by the organizer of the death match to kill him, and their unassuming third brother who is looking to get rid of their father in order to inherit the land, returning to their hometown, look visually stunning despite the blood and violence.
While this musical fantasy film directed by Edry Abdul Halim might not have been as amazing as it had been hyped up, "Magika" is still a uniquely colourful feature. Their clever use of old legends in a modern world together with hilarious musicals, churned out a film about Ayu and Malik, two siblings are going through their darkest moments of lives when their beloved mother just died. Believing that he may have caused his mother's death, Malik runs away into the forest, only to end up in another world called Magika. He is then captured by Nenek Kebayan and her follower, Awang Kenit, leading Ayu to travel to Magika to rescue her brother. The film stars Diana Danielle, Mawi, M. Nasir, Ning Baizura and Saiful Apek.
Malaysian horror films can be some of the most visually artistic films. Apart from 2008's "Susuk" and "Congkak", 2007's "Chermin" by Zarina Abdullah is an example of how to frighten audiences artistically. It has received the 20th Malaysian Film Festival awards for both Promising Director and Promising Actress (Natasha Hudson).
The story is about a girl who gets into a tragic car accident, ruining her face. To lift her daughter from her depression, her mother brings back an antique mirror possessed by a spirit that reflects what her daughter wants to see. She then becomes obsessed with the mirror and goes on a quest to regain her past beauty by satisfying the mirror's need for blood and revenge.
Yasmin Ahmad's trilogy is definitely among the best Malaysian films ever made, with the first of the trilogy, "Sepet", arguably one of the best films out there, with or without the artistic cinematography.
"Sepet" tells the tragic love story of young couple Ah Loong and Orked, whose romance face opposition from both of their families and friends due to differing races and social classes. The film not only caught our attention because of Yasmin's visual feats, but it also woke audiences up and raised our awareness of the country's social and racial pressures.
"Puteri Gunung Ledang" (2004)
The 2004 Malaysian epic fantasy period film was famous for being produced at a cost of USD 4 million, as it was Malaysia's first big-budget film at the time. Starring Tiara Jacquelina, M. Nasir and Adlin Aman Ramlie, ambitious costumes and sets abound in this film about the local legend of Puteri Gunung Ledang, set during the rule of Sultan Mahmud. The film won a total of 5 awards at the Malaysian Film Festival 2004 including Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Art Direction and Best Music Score.
"Sumpah Orang Minyak" (1958)
Translated in English as "Curse Of The Oil People", "Sumpah Orang Minyak" is one of P. Ramlee's best work and is arguably his best visual mark besides his technicolour "Hang Tuah". The film's visuals were so good that it won the award for Best Black and White Cinematography in the 1958 Asian Pacific Film Festival.
Cinema Online, 28 May 2013
Based on a horrific Malaysian legend, the film tells the tale of an ugly man called Si Bongkok who lives in isolation due to his looks. One day, he gets a chance to transform himself into a good-looking man, on the condition that he must swear not to kill fellow human beings. When he violates his oath, Si Bongkok's beauty can no longer be seen by humans, and in desperation, he makes a deal with the devil, who turns him into the infamous oil man and has to rape 21 girls within seven days.