SEPTEMBER 9 ― 2023 has seen a nicely varied line-up of Malaysian films playing in local cinemas.
Under the Finas Wajib Tayang scheme alone, 40 Malaysian films have played in local cinemas as of the end of August, to varying degrees of success.
The biggest local hit so far this year is clearly Polis Evo 3, which grossed around RM50 million.
We’ve also seen other genres connecting with Malaysians, resulting in box-office successes like Imaginur, Didi & Friends The Movie, Coast Guard Malaysia: Ops Helang, Pulau, Harum Malam and What The Heist.
I know that everyone is expecting the highly anticipated MALBATT: Misi Bakara to be another big box-office winner this year, and the numbers seem to be backing this up as it has now collected RM26 million in its first 11 days of release, but there’s another film also released in August that’s been doing fine numbers as well, Rahsia, which has so far banked RM6 million at the local box-office.
Both are still playing in local cinemas, so if you feel like watching something Malaysian this coming week, please do check these movies out!
A remake/reboot of the hit 1987 film of the same name, which also happened to be the first horror film to win Best Film (and seven other awards) at the Festival Filem Malaysia that year, I think this might just be one of the biggest surprises of the year when it comes to Malaysian films.
Directed by Shamyl Othman, son of the director of the 1987 film, Othman Hafsham, with a script by Alfie Palermo, Rahsia deviates from the original quite a bit, but retains many of the iconic scenes that made the original such a beloved film to this day.
The film revolves around Ramlah (excellently played by Nabila Huda), a housewife who returns to her father’s home to celebrate his birthday.
Immediately there’s tension in the air, as her father still doesn’t seem to approve of her husband.
Tragedy strikes when her son Saiful goes missing during an outing at the beach, which is a tip of the hat to the original film.
Ramlah then begins to unravel as she is haunted by strange visions and sightings of her son that she can’t really explain to her family.
This is where Shamyl and Alfie take us on a totally different horror ride compared to the original film.
Aesthetically this plays a lot like a modern day Blumhouse film, filled with plenty of jump scares and bits and pieces of family trauma sprinkled in.
So, if you like modern day horror favourites like the Insidious and The Conjuring franchise, you’ll find plenty to like in this.
And I have to say, despite the relentless barrage of jump scares lined up by Shamyl and Alfie (and wait till you see what they did with a printer, yes, a printer!), they’re so well written, well shot and well executed that it doesn’t feel like jump scare overkill at all.
In fact, Rahsia is just honest to goodness scary horror fun!
MALBATT: Misi Bakara
A major local release during the Merdeka season, initially opening in 150 cinemas across Malaysia, and with plenty of teasers and trailers playing months ahead of its release date in local cinemas, this new film from director Adrian Teh (of Paskal fame) has got most Malaysians eagerly waiting for it.
It’s an attempt to tell the full or real story behind the incident that was first depicted in the Hollywood film Black Hawk Down, which was about a mission to rescue US soldiers trapped in Mogadishu’s Bakara Market.
What Black Hawk Down neglected to mention (except for one throwaway line of dialogue) was that Malaysia and Pakistan also played important roles in that rescue mission, and this is what Teh and co-writer Ashraf Modee Zain tried to correct in this film.
Armed with a reported budget of RM20 million, you can straight away see where the money went with the film’s impressive opening scene, focusing on a hostage rescue mission in Somalia involving our team of heroes from the Malaysian Battalion (aka the MALBATT of the film’s title).
It’s a pretty well-staged and tightly edited action set-piece, involving plenty of bullets and explosions, which immediately gave me high hopes that this one might just be one of our best tactical action movies yet.
Alas, those hopes were immediately dashed by what happened next ― scenes designed to show the camaraderie between our heroes ― which I’m sure will cause quite a few of us in the audience to cringe a little bit.
The movie more or less oscillates between these two modes, tactical military action and sometimes cringe inducing drama/comedy, and your impression of the movie will also oscillate between being impressed and feeling a little bit embarrassed.
And don’t even get me started on the jarringly distracting CGI and green/blue screen work.
So, not a perfect movie then, but still, it does what it promises to do fairly well when it comes to the tactical action bits. Polis Evo 2 remains the crown jewel of the current craze of making tactical action movies in Malaysia, and I’d say Coast Guard Malaysia: Ops Helang is still the better movie, but MALBATT: Misi Bakara is still worth the ticket price.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.