Puteri Gunung Ledang


Written on 9/10/2004 01:48:00 am by sikapitan

It’s funny how things work out. I started the week in a happy mood, carefree. I managed to catch Puteri Gunung Ledang (review below *ehem*) on Monday, and the sky was looking mighty clear. Unfortunately, I found out that there’s an assignment due by Thursday, so I cramped every inch of my energy into completing the shit in one night (yeah, I knew about it on Monday, but left it till yesterday- serial procrastinator:). Managed to pass it up, and now I’m free again, at least until the next deadline looms large. So decided to celebrate by spending the afternoon watching Eiffel I’m in Love. Just goes to show that moods really do swing.


After all the hype, the worst critic in the world (aka me) finally managed to catch the most EXPENSIVE Malaysian movie ever made (minus our election propagandas :) and deliver his verdict (why it matters?). It cost RM 15-20 million ladies and gentleman, and that’s just what the accountants decide to put in, so it’s a foregone conclusion that the movie will NEVER recoup its expenses just playing in our local cinema. We only have around 30 cinemas playing around the country, and Malaysians are not known to be repeat viewers of local films. At best, it’ll manage 4 – 5 million locally. I cannot imagine nor do I wish for the worst case scenario.

Especially not to a film that braves the contemporary Malaysian film industry and the generic storylines churned out yearly (especially by messr Prof A.R Mohaideen). In the midst of silly romantic comedies which is almost always NEVER funny nor romantic, we have a movie made not based on profit (if that was the case it would have been Erra-Yusry as the main actors), but on an egoistic believe that they can do it. And when I watched it, I cannot say that I was not impressed with what 15 million can do.

It’s a majestic love story set during the heydays of the Malaccan Empire (when we at least had some say internationally) between Hang Tuah and Gusti Bla blab la (I’m not a stickler for details). The first thing audiences will notice is the picture quality. Maybe all this while our filmmakers have been using recycled films, because this time it’s horribly clear (I’ve always thought that there’s something wrong with Malaysia’s batch of film rolls-heheheh)! There’s none of those lines and other what-nots on the screen. The sound is as clear as Adibah Noor’s vocal. This is what real dubbing looks like. Malaysian films are afflicted with this great disease known as “delayed voice projection”. You know, when the mouth moves differently from the words coming out. There’s none of that in this film. The set is also, though not quite as breathtaking as one would imagine, well crafted, and at least looked authentic. It seems like the money spent on quality has not gone to waste. Every inch of the film looks pure class. So far so good.

Next, the acting. Again it seems like money well spent because the decision to cast a glittering array of top-class actors turned what could be a debacle into a lesson for other filmmakers and actors. There’s no substitute for good acting. From the lead to the smaller parts, the producers have taken considerable effort to obtain great talents. All are well-known actors, whether in film, tv or theatre. The two main protagonists, Hang Tuah and the princess saw two familiar faces coming out from self-imposed “retirement”. We haven’t had the chance to really see M. Nasir, the actor, in recent times. It’s unfortunate that great actors like him cannot or would not express themselves simply because of commercialism and lack of quality scripts. He is 5 times better than Yusry, and yet the KRU dude has acted in 5 times more movie than M. Nasir (exaggerate). The only silly part was when he started reciprocating Tiara’s ‘dance’ (we all know it’s symbolic of something that we Malaysians never do ie. sex). And Tiara, despite criticism of favoritism (her husband is one of the main producers), managed to convey the necessary range of emotions. However, I do believe (and this is not meant to be insulting) that Sofia Jane would be more suitable for the lead, not because of acting chops, but simply because she’s more desirable (because the puteri supposedly can make grown man weep etc2). Anyway, despite some slacking in her Javanese, Tiara injected some needed magnetism and sensuality in Gusti. Rahim Razali was his usual elegant self as the Datuk Bendahara while Adlin Ramli (more famous in theatre) appears well-suited as the stupid Sultan Mahmud. Our friends from Indonesia, Christine Hakim and Alex Komang, managed to live up to their highly-regarded reputation. There’s also Dian Sastro appearing in a cameo role for about 5 minutes (highlight of the movie-trust me :). What’s not to like? Ermm.. not too much I guess, but there’s still some grouses.

I think in the quest of making this into another Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon the director stretched the film to around 2 and a half hours, which made the whole thing seems long winded. The dialogue, though beautifully crafted, can test one’s patience. Maybe it’s because the Hang Tuah legend is well-known to many of us. Our interest wanes because we know what’s going to happen, there’s no aura of mystery surrounding the story. If this was shown to foreigners, maybe they would appreciate it more. Another fault of the movie is in its action scenes. There’s only two in this movie. The first one (where Hang Tuah rescues Dian….haih) is well-choreographed, avoiding the typical Hindustani element. It’s the second one that troubles me. I know that warriors of old have mystical powers, but maybe the director should just avoid the flying scenes because it just appears funny instead of engaging. The CGI can also be improved, but these are minor complaints from a person desperate to find a fault with this film.
Can this work overseas? I surely hope they do make it. This is a brave effort that sets the bar for future filmmakers, though I doubt that the standard will increase dramatically in the near future. It’s just like cars. The expensive automobiles test out new technologies and later this will filter to the protons and kancils. Please go and watch it, just for the sake of encouraging filmmakers to be brave enough and take gambles

If you enjoyed this post Subscribe to our feed

No Comment

Post a Comment