Friday, March 9, 2012

'Bunohan' Movie Review





1. Title : Bunohan
2. Release date : 8 February 2012 (Malaysia )
3. Director : Dain Said
4. Starring :
Faizal Hussein
Zahiril Adzim
Pekin Ibrahim
Bront Palarae
Namron
5. Language : Malay
6. Genre : Action/Drama
7. Official Website : Bunohan

The movie is about Adil (Zahiril Adzim) who had to run away after abandoning a kickboxing fight and being hunted by Ilham (Faizal Hussein), the hired killer who followed him to Bunohan, a small village in Kelantan. Meanwhile, Bakar (Pakin Ibrahim) returned to Bunohan to convince his father to sell their plots of land.

The movie uses a lot of symbolism and that it is quite difficult for me to review the movie without talking about the scenes. So be warned, if you do not want to know the spoilers, you can stop reading.

We can immediately know that this is not some typical Malay drama once the show starts rolling. First of all, you will be able to see a scene where two people are talking about 'Main Puteri' which is very mystical in nature. Watching this scene would give you the idea that this movie will delve into the the mystics of the unknown and something that is very alien to common people. As the two go to a coffee shop, there are some snippets of TV shows, which I assume is not coincidental, of the three main actors. This is something new, which rather than using the usual display of names at the start of a movie, this movie use the TV shows to introduce the actors. Later, there is a scene at a beach, where we can see a torn cloth and between it we can see some scenes of some people doing some ritual and there are also some who look very corporate, who seem to be discussing about a development project. This torn cloth gives us the insight that it works like a frame, that we are using it as if we are watching a show. Just like the earlier introduction of the actor, which all of this is a show to us. The scene between the rituals and the developers is also quite interesting that it gives us the idea that this movie is about the clash of modern and old, which will be talked about later.

If you think that this movie is almost similar to 'Ong Bak', you can't be more wrong. While there are some fight scenes and cut throat action, this is actually more towards the relationship between family members and what had happened that caused them so much pain that they decided to move away from their own hometown and ultimately, from their own family. The scenery of the movie is very beautiful, which again, uses a lot of framing and balanced shots between the foreground and the background, especially using the sky as the background. But there are some scenes where the colour of the sky is totally changed, which gives us the surreal feeling. This surreal feeling is also experienced by Ilham, where he is sometimes in a state of trance with hallucination, for example when he is talking to birds and seeing some apparitions. The apparitions, which are related to black magic, are also related to Ilham's parents, where you can see a kid, who is actually some sort of spirits that Ilham's father keep as his companion and the sightings of Ilham's mom, wailing and asking for the love of Ilham's father. These characters are the complete opposite of Bakar, the modern guy from the city, who returned to his old hometown, to get his father's agreement to sell some plots of land. He is actually a character that is easy for us to hate, with his shirt always tucked into his pants, plotting his next move at the expense of the villagers.

The most interesting character should definitely be Ilham, the serial killer who had many secrets and went back to Bunohan and having had to confront his past while trying to complete his mission. It is a pity actually, seeing him so merciless, so dark, in the first quarter of the movie, killing people effortlessly, but is reduced to some sort of grave digger in the latter part of the movie. I was expecting more of him actually, which would make this movie more interesting that it already is. The dramatic scenes, though can be painfully slow at time, are quite engaging. While the draggy scenes are due to the arthouse film feel that is being incorporated into the movie, fortunately there are some fight scenes that give that tingling sensation of a commercial movie. It is not often that we have a Malay film that delve into so many issues in one movie, while presenting the arthouse film feel to a commercial audience. A gamble, I must say. But an interesting one. 'Bunohan' is a good movie. Though it is not exactly the best Malay movie at the moment, it has the potential to be one. Let's hope there will be more of a similar traits.

Rating: 6.5/10

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