Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Jiwa Taiko [2012]

Director: Osman Ali
Starring: Bront Palarae, Nadiya Nisa, Diana Danielle, Remy Ishak
Genre: Bullshit
Rating: General
Comment: "Please disperse. There's nothing to see here..."

Synopsis
A life of crime is a life wasted, and Firman (Remy Ishak) learns that the hard way when had to serve some time in jail. Taking the experience in good stride, he vows to never go back down that road again. He takes a step forward by getting into a relationship with Trisya (Diana Danielle), oblivious to the fact that there's another who have feelings for him. But running away from the past is always a futile effort, and it haunts him in the form of his former gang mate, Pinto (Bront Palarae).

What to Expect
1. Bront Palarae being awesome, as always
2. To be forced to accept too many things at face value
3. Plot holes aplenty, like potholes in Shah Alam
4. Characters with extremely poor judgement skills
5. Multiple, so many cringe-worthy moments
6. Remy Ishak's sex face

What NOT to Expect
1. Adrenaline-pumping fight scenes
2. Believable relationships
3. "Taiko", mostly it's just "jiwa"
Avoid like the plague
Review
I didn't think it was possible, but this movie managed to dethrone KL Gangster [2011] as my go-to example of an asinine movie where brain cells go to die. You see, at the very least, KL Gangster didn't pretend like it was anything more than a watered-down, something (seemingly) inspired by Hong Kong gangster flicks where we have to settle for Syamsul Yusof instead of somebody as cool as Chow Yun-fat, whereas Jiwa Taiko was marketed as something that could make The Haslams look lazy by comparison.

Okay, maybe they didn't really set out to do that. But you wouldn't know that from the trailer. I'm especially talking about the pseudo-Martial artsy-lookin' Kata performed by the characters, while ocean waves crash at their feet. May I know what's the point of all that, if not to clue us in into the fact that these characters are deep, spiritual, and wouldn't get into a fight at the slightest provocation? More on that in a minute.

Spoiler: They're everything but that...
The point is, if you couldn't top anything that Syamsul Yusof fished out of his toilet bowl, you've hit a new low.

The general problem with Jiwa Taiko, if you ask me, has got to be with how the story panned out. It wasn't all that predictable, but only because they didn't seem to know what to do with the story either. It's like what they had was a premise, and then rushed it out as a slightly-less-artistic-but-kick-ass follow-up to the sickeningly successful Ombak Rindu [2011] before the name Osman Ali goes cold.

So expect something that feels like it came out of an assembly line; "Love triangle? Check. Fight scenes shoehorned in between? Check. Pan-Asian actress? Check... Ladies and gents, we got ourselves a movie." Speaking of Ombak Rindu, I passed up on the chance(s) to see it, so it's hard to say precisely how Jiwa Taiko differs. Of course, it goes without saying that they explored different themes. I'm not drawing this comparison out of spite.

Hear me out...
All that I'd like to point out is that; Characters have (implied) consensual sex this time, and the female characters are supposedly strong because they can fight, though they still come across as an emotional trainwreck where their heartbreaks seem to always coincide with their menstrual cycles, hence the overreactions. Okay, to be fair, the men too were nothing but one-dimensional meatheads with poor impulse control. I guess it's only fair.

So... Does that sound like Ombak Rindu? I don't know. You tell me.

Alright, back to Jiwa Taiko. We've already established that the script felt rushed and not thought out, and that led to another major frustration of this movie; All the missed opportunities! This movie could have been so, so much more than just morons awkwardly trash-talking each other. You could ask Nadia Khan about this, she came up with a much more interesting story on the fly, with no mention of CGI or anything too technical. Just a couple of lines that breathed life into the characters. It's amazing how she did it.

These two were the only ones worth watching...
However, that is not to say that the movie was entirely devoid of characters. Two people shined like diamonds in a pig sty, which is a pretty apt analogy because as good as they were, they couldn't give the movie its much needed CPR. The two actors are, of course, Bront Palarae and Nadiya Nisa. Mind you, I'm not saying they shone because of the so-called steamy scenes (they're tame lah!). It's pretty hard to put into words what they did for this movie, but you'll really remember them for it.

As for the rest, the movie didn't care so much about meeting us halfway. I don't know about you, but I don't quite like it when the audience is expected to accept too many things we're not shown. Case in point; The relationship between the characters. At no point in the movie did I feel like these characters even like each other enough to feel like they're part of a family, but we're forced to accept that anyway because Diana Danielle's character said so. Jangan cakap banyak.

So it really was at the mercy of the audience whether they'd be willing to play along or not. And I can be pretty ruthless.

How did we end up in the same movie, again?
As for the romantic aspect of the movie, I think I'll opt to not talk about it because I don't want to relive the many cringe-worthy moments where things got really cheesy, made worse by the fact that I don't find the characters believable to begin with. So much so I think they should have gone with the title of Taiko Jiwang; Kalau takut dipukul taiko, jangan beranak ditepi pantai. Oh, you'll see.

So... Yeah. No rape, though. At least there's that. No, I won't fuckin' let it go because it's fuckin' rape.

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