For more information follow this link. (Though truly, IMDb doesn’t give too much information on this film. Many of the actors/actresses are uncredited and I had to use my keen powers of observation along with my well honed google skills to find some of these credits.)
In a dystopian future, ravaged by chemical warfare, the ruminants of humanity formed clans or gangs, lead by the Big Brothers, for protection. These gangs battled through the years, and now have an agreement of peace so they might survive. As the younger generation struggles under the weight of this agreement, one of the Big Brothers has decided that he will conquer and rule over them all.
This post-apocalyptic martial arts film, from Malaysia, mixes sci fi, action, and a healthy dose of fantasy into a pleasant surprise.
I tried to watch this with the English-dubbed voice over. Sadly, this way the movie came across as a badly executed live action anime. Which had potential, except the translated dialogue was so preposterous and cheesy to the point of being insulting. I had to stop and change the dvd settings to the original Malay with English subtitles, and started the movie over. I was much more impressed with these results. The live action anime feel was still there, but now in the good way for which I had hoped.
The story was well written, though not entirely well explained, which I am happy to believe is due to translation from Malay to English, or perhaps part of the story was left on the editing room floor (so to speak). The primary story, it appears, is a rivalry between brothers, who seem to have some sort of supernatural abilities (this is the part that wasn’t well explored/explained, so I just suspended my disbelief and went with it). The primary rival Big Brothers are: X, our anti-hero, the best swordsman and strongest fighter, plagued by the tragic memories which led to the agreement, played by Farid Kamil; Sri Gala, who wants his decedents to be strong and to survive and will renounce the agreement to assure this, played by mixed martial artist Peter Davis; and Y (the self styled King Kala Jenking), our ever so charismatic villain and would-be King, played by Jehan Miskin.
The film also features an engaging social commentary subplot of the younger generation trying to break free of their Big Brothers rule. Arguing that they need to live, learn, and grow, rather than simply and blindly follow. That they should not be forced to pay for the mistakes and sins of their elders, but be allowed to forge their own new world.
Then, there is a healthy dose of the classic star-crossed-lovers tale, of rival gang members Aman Chai, little brother of X, played by Adam AF, and Qi Qi, daughter of Sri Gala, played by Miera Leyana. The characters are vivid, multifaceted, and so much fun! Even the stereotypes and tropes the filmmakers used were entertaining. Of note, Vasantha Kumaran, as Melur, one of the “big brothers” who has sort of a Rick James/Morris Day thing going on. Look for Lipan, played by Pekin Ibrahim, a character with dreadlocks and a van-dyke beard, who doesn’t speak, but brings a nicely disturbing, emotionless, zombie-like, grim reaper presence.
The post apocalyptic setting is very focused on one small area where the clans/gangs have congregated, implying that the rest of the world is either uninhabitable or unreachable due to the fallout from the chemical war.
The cinematography is beautiful. There is a derelict beauty to the settings used in this film. The color, though not washed out, fully expresses the depression and repression of the younger generation. The costuming is simple and effective. Though there are plenty of CG effects, mostly, they are well placed and contribute well to the story. As always, practical gore effects are better than CGI.
I gave this 3 bottles of Bintang. I watched this movie multiple times as I considered what I wanted to write, and each time I was fully drawn in and my attention was held. As I mentioned, there were aspects of this film that appear to have been either lost in translation or not explored properly, which is why I didn’t give it more. Honestly, I’ve read several other reviews of this movie, none of which were positive. I have decided that either I am not well rounded in this genre (certainly it is not my in my usual bailiwick), or the other reviewers didn’t bother to make that change from English dubbed to subtitles. No matter, I enjoyed this quite a bit. But I may have questionable taste.