Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bunohan [2012]

Director: Dain Said
Cast: Faizal Hussein, Zahiril Adzim, Pekin Ibrahim, Bront Palarae, Soffi Jikan, Namron
Genre: Drama/Action/Horror (?)
Rating: Teen
Excerpt: "A very rich film that's a little hard to fully appreciate in one sitting... Definitely not for the impatient."

After a match goes bad, Malaysian Muay Thai fighter Adil (Zahiril Adzim) is rescued by his friends and together they cross the border from southern Thailand back home to Malaysia, specifically his hometown Bunohan. It goes against the deal made with the promoter where Adil is supposed to fight to the finish, hence prompting them to set assassin Ilham (Faizal Hussein) on his trail. Meanwhile, the seemingly well-to-do Bakar (Pekin Ibrahim) returns to Bunohan with the intention of coaxing his father into handing him the rest of their family's inheritance. However, Bunohan turns out to be more than just a clever name; There's something cryptic about the place that will make all their plans go astray.

What to Expect
1. A rich film for the senses
2. A non-linear storyline
3. 100% Kelantanese dialect
4. Excellent production value
5. Social commentaries
6. Visceral horror feel to the movie

What NOT to Expect
1. To be able to get it all in one sitting
2. To be fun for the impatient
3. To be able to doze off, and pick up where you left off
A rarity
First of all, a little shoutout to the fellas at Bunohan for the opportunity because just like everybody else, I was excited about seeing this movie even before all that business with its inclusion in several prestigious international film festivals. I do have concerns about this movie being a victim of hype since then, but hey, I saw this movie last night and I'm inclined to say that it deserves all the hype it can get. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I bet you can already see where I'm going with this review.

Well, what do you expect? I already made it clear that I am not one to look for a flaw just for the sake of finding a flaw. So here you go; Bunohan is a very rich film for the senses that's a little hard to fully appreciate in one sitting, and you bet your ass that's a good thing.

However, right off the bat the movie had me pacing around in my room thinking about how to go about doing this review because I was unprepared for what I saw. Sure, it had been pigeonholed into the Drama-action genre, but believe me, there was a lot more going on than that. For example, I was perplexed by how the movie began with that scene at the warung where the two lead actors were mentioned by their real names.

I have yet to figure out what was it supposed to mean. But it did, in a way, set the tone for what was to become a surreal drama where even the village of Bunohan became like a character, where greed gave way to violence. Oh yeah, this is probably a good time to tell you that despite the simple story, you would not want to let your mind wander because there's a really slim chance you'd be able to pick up where you left off.

Faizal Hussein was badass...
I know I did. But only because I got distracted by the lush and beautiful settings that felt outlandish yet familiar at the same time, all of which contributed to the unique feel of this film. You'll witness scenes taking place in backwater villages, swamps, rivers and a shipyard, and they were shot in such a way that you could almost feel the heat and the humidity. I did say that this is a rich film for the senses, didn't I? So they made the right choice by keeping the story simple otherwise I would have lost track of it.

Simple, not dumbed-down, mind you.

Also notable was the full use of the Kelantanese dialect, I'm not by a long shot well-versed in it, so it sounded really pure to my ears. I only had a slight trouble keeping up because I had to rely entirely on the subtitles, and there were times when they sort of faded into the background. But despite that, much of the social commentaries and humour came across to the audience pretty well. And there were plenty of those two.

I don't know if I would tout Bunohan as a must-see movie, but it will be well worth the admission price if you're looking for something different and not overrated for a change. I gotta say what impressed me the most was really the overall look and feel of the movie; The appearance and presentation seemed very down-to-earth, yet it all felt very grand. Check out that final fight scene at the shipyard to know what I mean.

Oh, just in case, it would help if you do a tiny bit of a research about the culture up north before going for this movie. I sort of did, which is why I wore Muay Thai shorts to the premiere.


Zulfahmi said...

It looks artistic... Is it?

Mamü Vies said...

Oh yeah, very much so.

PerangFilem said...

yeah puaskan tgk Bunohan..

Like it.

Pls go to my blog for just another review. :)

Az said...

Kelantan dialect? Any subtitles?

Mamü Vies said...

Az: Yeap, both English and Malay.

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