Monday, 31 December 2012

Prince Of The City (2012)

"So Prince, what's the secret to your white chicken thighs in this climate?"

Revisiting Reservoir Dogs with Yank Kassim
At a glance:
Malaysian premier Najib Abdul Razak would be devastated if he ever saw the killer clown of a movie that is Julian Cheah's Prince In The City (2012). That's because unlike the 1981 Sidney Lumet classic of the same name about systemic police corruption, this Malaysian movie has absolutely no notion or mention of cops whatsoever; and the streets run riot with guns and gangsters! Presumably self-financed to the reported tune of RM 1.5 mil and with the rare audacity to make wide release at some 40 locations, this unintentional action-comedy is the kind of dime-a-dozen project that would've died a very quick but kind death in pre-production, in the hands of less resilient proponents. However, self-satisfied indulgent producer Julian Cheah and his fantastical levels of conceit and grandeur under Axis Line Entertainment ensure we see it on the big screen in technicolor glory, even if the cast and crew, I detect, seem to distance themselves from the picture out of sheer embarrassment. This 18-rated 35mm presentation will make spillover business from unsuspectin Malay cinemagoers who recognise Aaron Aziz on the poster and can't get tickets to Jackie Chan's CZ12 (2012). WBO run will be bleak, though I can report that the first two days of collections have managed not to break the RM20k floor set in September by inexplicable rock musical Leftwings as the lowest grossin Malaysian movie of 2012.
Bad news on the doorstep:
Madsen: Will work for $20
We're talkin Bad Cinema 101. Once you get past the horrible lightin, jarrin hard cuts, continuity blunders, slapstick gunfights, comic fisticuffs, out-of-sync audio and primitive sound mix, you'll arrive at the real treat - the inexplicably long and full English sentences uttered by overly theatrical actors who read first-timer Calvin Wong's script as if it's Shakespeare in KL. One of the many cardboard characters on show is Michael Madsen's and the man tries his post-prime best at damage control, even if he does sound like he's one cigarette away from needin an oxygen tank, as mused on Twitchfilm by the founder almost a year ago when its completely inept trailer was released. Whatever pays the bills, one might say. And this, on the back of that other non-movie - the senseless Eldorado (2012).
"I should shoot myself now."
Perennial wonderment:
I don't know much about Spanar Jaya veteran Roslan Hussin (his first feature film in the director's chair) but Aaron Aziz, who plays Madsen's henchman in the movie, is a true pro - you'd really have to hand him that. His is the only role that actually works, never mind the lame story. He delivers all his English lines convincingly, although like everyone else in the movie, he lights up a cigarette every two minutes (presumably out of a real need, due to the emotional stress of starrin in such a movie). Even in the modest TMO well-recorded by Linus Chung, he grit his teeth and appeared the most inclined to come forward and promote the movie. Good man.
Reminds me of:
Less-than-convincin crime capers like Juliane Block's Emperor (2008) and Kepong Gangster (2012). However, even these aren't vanity projects that can hold a candle to Prince Of The City.
I can't remember if I cried:
Sittin behind industry veteran Yusof Haslam throughout the press preview, I felt he didn't know where to hide his face. I believe his outfit Skop Productions is the distribution force behind this lamentable farce. Looks like it's the easiest money they ever made, shippin out a deformed soldier to die at war and chargin him the boat fare!
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
Let's play domino thugs!
Many scenes look like they're recorded off a mobile phone. One of the least embarrassin elements of the movie is the female lead (Tara Wallace) but she gets an early bailout. The worst thing about the movie is actually Cheah himself with his smarmy smugness, instantly killin any tension and credulity the movie tries so hard to hang on to in every scene. Nonetheless I'm pleased to report that Prince Of The City (2012) isn't the worst Malaysian movie of 2012. It's a close fight but M. Jamil's equally delusional but ultimately unwatchable Momok Don't Find Trouble (2012) keeps that honour. Only just, though.
Bonus material:

[picture credit: Julian Cheah Facebook fan page]

Nasha Aziz Anzalna Nasir
Tara Wallace from New York gets some bikini time.
Aaron Aziz puts in some token moves for the token action scenes.
It's payday in some part of the world for Michael Madsen.
"Whaddya mean I can't produce, direct, write, finance and star in my own movie?!?!"
Director Roslan Hussin tries to console Yank Kassim.
Tara Wallace and Julian Cheah.

Julian Cheah - a man prepared to go to the ends of the earth to make you see his films.
"I'm trying so hard to see where this story is going."
Jehan Miskin sizes up Kenji Sawahii