Sunday, 15 July 2012

Jiwa Taiko (2012)

Sex with strangers: Nadiya Nisaa and Bront Palarae.
At a glance:
I think we have to get to the bad news in the first paragraph itself. If you too thought Osman Ali's Jiwa Taiko (2012) was gonna right all the wrongs in Anak Halal (2009) and combine with the box office sensibilities of KL Gangster (2011), then we're all the same fools who didn't know that fantastic poster actually reads "Jiwang Taiko" ("sentimental triad boss"). Yes, this is a pretty naive outin from the Nuansa stable that has angered no small number of regular Malay cinemagoers, thanks to a grossly misleadin marketin campaign that sought to mask the melodramatic tripe it really is. We follow convalescent ex-con Remy Ishak and his merry band of welfare home misfits as they do battle against his former crime partner Bront Palarae. Throw in a love rectangle or two (could well be a pentagon or hexagon even), some pseudo-silat elements and there you have it - a badly edited RM 620,000 box office disaster. Maybe some of the psychotropic drugs in the movie could help alleviate the shame of havin been outgrossed by M Subash's farcical horror You Believe In Ghost? (2012). My heart goes out to Osman Ali who seems perpetually uninspired in familiar territory.
Okay, break for lunch!
Bad news on the doorstep:
Like I said - put simply, nobody is buyin the story. Should've kept its old title - Bara Jiwa.
Perennial wonderment:
Apparently some steamy scenes were snipped, so how does a wide-release poster with Bront Palarae prominently holdin a cigarette get passed? I remember the magazine I was with, we were receivin warnin letters from the Home Ministry over a tiny movie still of Tarantino's Grindhouse (2007) in which someone is holdin a cigarette. Guess they're still makin it up on the go.
Reminds me of:
Anti-AIDS and anti-drugs community service ads from Malaysia's 90s.
Watch out for:
I have some sympathy for Bront Palarae, who relishes these psychotic antagonist roles and acts his heart out here. His take on a skinny, doped-up gangster is done with conviction, even if it's actually nothin we ain't seen 30 years ago in Hong Kong triad movies. I guess we have to really scrape the bottom of the barrel for any positivity in a paper-thin script like this. Special mention here for Nadiyatul Nisaa a.k.a. Nadiya Nisaa who plays problem girl Lara. The poor girl is completely out of her depth, although her beauty mole does exude some dirty girl appeal, sorta like a Malay Blake Lively. I shit you not, this Malaysian Film Festival Pelakon Harapan winner for Cun (2011) would've done better for herself if she turned in a mute performance, instead of shriekin English lines like "I need to think!!!" and bein generally very annoyin at a high-pitch.
"How do you know it was me
who passed the herpes to you?"
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
Readin Osman Ali's defence doesn't help. The jury is already out on its Facebook fan page. Both action and romance border on comical farce. Gratuitous huggin and kissin invoke the wrath of more conservative audiences but on merit alone, this is an insult to the rudimentary plebeian tastes of an already undemandin target crowd. What a huge disappointment.1/2

Bonus material:
A missed opportunity.