Friday, September 2, 2011

What I Learned About Gangsters (From Watching KL Gangster)

I've actually thought about writing this article for quite some time, but then I figured I've said what I wanted to say in my review of KL Gangster [2011], the movie that was a surprise hit among Malaysian movie-goers. In fact, even my review proved to be one of the more popular entries in this blog, staying at the Flavour of the Week chart for months now.


Apparently a lot of people liked the movie, which is fine by me. I mean, after all, there are people who engage in Coprophilia as well, so who am I to judge? However, I do have a bone to pick with morons who claimed that this movie could give Jackie Chan a run for his money. That's not a direct quote, but it's pretty much what the dude said.

Luckily at the time I was trying to not be such an angry son of a bitch, or I might have teared him a new asshole right there and then. Instead, I just sent him a link to a YouTube video showing how wrong he was to even put "KL Gangster" and "Jackie Chan" in the same sentence.

Countless of broken bones and a cracked skull, only to have people comparing him to this shit...
Generally speaking, my review was not very well-received. Apparently they all seemed to think that the characterisation of gangsters in that movie were spot on, going so far as mocking me for expecting them to do it any other way. I must confess that I was taken aback, wondering if any of them has ever seen a gangster movie before.

An actual gangster movie.

Because if they have, they'll realise how laughable the pretend-gangsters are in this movie. But for humour's sake, I'm just going to pretend to forget what I already know about gangsters, may it be in movies or real life. With that being said, here's what I learned about gangsters from watching KL Gangster.

#3 They're impeccably on time
Let's start with something comparatively mild. Some might accuse me of splitting hairs, but when people magically show up out of nowhere, always at the right place and at the right time, I call that a plot hole. What would you call it?

Of course, if you know anything about the Malaysian culture, then you would also know that we can't be on time for shit. *ahem* or to put it more delicately, punctuality isn't our strong suit. If you're wondering why I can't let this one slide, well it's because the movie is called "KL" Gangster. I was half-hoping that this movie would be as culturally relevant as The Godfather was to the Mafia.

But then again, I wouldn't want this guy to be the Malaysian Marlon Brando...
#2 They can't hear anything below 100 dB
Let's break it down. The normal human speaking voice is around 60-70 decibels, which apparently the gangsters in the movie can only hear as well as they can hear a dog whistle. This particular aspect was given emphasis in my review, and also the part I was mocked about.


I also said that I could only think of movies like The Godfather [1972], Goodfellas [1990], Road to Perdition [2002], Eastern Promises [2007] and maybe even Reservoir Dogs [1992] whenever somebody speak of gangster movies. And I don't remember being hearing-impaired was some sort of a prerequisite to become a gangster in any of those movies.

So why did the dudes in KL Gangster felt the need to yell 90% of the time? To be intimidating? Please... To quote Frank Lucas from American Gangster [2007], "The loudest one in the room is also the weakest one in the room". While that is not necessarily true all the time, the point here is that you don't need to be loud to be intimidating.

Case in point; Joe Pesci. Below is a clip from Goodfellas.

Embedding is disabled, kindly click on the image to see the video...
One last thing, if you want a local example, you should see how Adlin Aman Ramlie played a gangster in a movie simply called Gangster [2005]. Don't bother watching Rosyam Nor's portrayal of it, which was equally as laughable as Syamsul Yusof's. You know what, I would even rank Shariff Dol Samseng Kampung Dusun higher than either of them.

#1 They speak like fucktards
I don't claim to have been around gangster, but if there's anything I know about them, they don't have any blaring tell-tale signs. After all, the last thing that real gangsters need is attention from the public. But the guys in KL Gangster simply figured "screw that" and make no effort whatsoever to conceal themselves, right down to the way they speak.

Notice how all the Malay gangsters speak according to the approximation of the Cantonese speech patterns? It's not even about the whole thing with "lu" and "gua" pronouns, which is fairly common even among everyday people in KL. I'm talking about the speech pattern, it sounded so unnatural, I imagined the lead actors must have stumbled through their lines quite a number of times, feeling like twats while they're at it.

"Lu sekarang bawah tapak kaki gua!"
Aw shoot... I know I said I was going to forget what I already know about gangster movies. Guess that's a lot easier said than done.

3 comments:

~ku hanya seorang insan~ said...

hey..=)..Your article is impressed me..Hope you can discover my view..

Mamü Miguel Ellezda Vies said...

Thank you!
I don't know what you mean by that view thing, though.

Steve W said...

Hmmm, people in KL also using "lu", "gua" as well now? Never thought that Jakartan style language has influenced many people in Malaysia.

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