Monday, October 21, 2013

Longkai [2013]

Director: Hashim Rejab
Writer: Panel MiG
Starring: Niezam Zaidi, Along Eyzendy, Wawa Zainal, Faizal Hussein, Erra Fazira, Dira Abu Zahar
Genre: Action/Drama
Rating: General
Verdict: "As with any MiG production, Longkai is horribly and awkwardly scripted, even seems to have aspired to out-KLGangster KL Gangster, if you know what I mean..."

Uh like, tow truck drivers from two rivalling workshops take their rivalry to such unbelievable heights. Then a tudung-clad lady stalks one of the workshops, watching Faizal Hussein from afar. A couple of car crashes, I think. Then people fight. Then they fight some more. Wawa Zainal exits her school grounds. Niezam Zaidi wins her heart with a necklace. Something else must have happened after that. Then more fighting, including bizarre and out-of-place wrestling moves. Oh yeah, everything is played straight, which makes everything end up being unintentionally funny.

What to Expect
1. An abuse to one's suspension of disbelief
2. WTF moments aplenty
3. Actors hamming it up
4. Over-the-top everything
5. Plain awkward script
6. Bizarre-ness

What NOT to Expect
1. Subtlety
2. Coherence
3. Believable relationships
Unless you watch it as an unintentional comedy
Oh Longkai. If I were to review it in the spirit of the film, it would sound something like this; Aiyoh, Longkai! Lu punya skrip serupa macam kutip dari itu longkang. Manyak busok macam bangkai bikin kepala gua lemah longlai wor. But let's not take that route.

As always, I didn't root for the film to fail. If it does, I'm always more interested in exploring the reasons why, as opposed to just plain ripping on it.

I literally shook my head in disbelief once the credit started to roll. Had it not been for its superiority in the technical departments (directing, editing, etc), this film might just wound up in the same league as Tokak [2013] and Prince of the City [2012]; which in case you've never heard of them, are some of the worst films I've ever seen.

So yeah. I'm sure they had a competent crew and director. It's the story and the script that are plain horrible. It's the same thing with any MiG production I've seen - always boils down to the same questions; was the script written in one afternoon? Do they have any respect at all for the screenplay as the backbone of a film? Am I really that far removed from their target demographic?

But... I grew up in a rural area and among working class people. Like, I'm the furthest thing from an elitist, and I'm not Anglophile either. So, what gives?

Longkai is fine for the first five minutes. From the get-go it shows us that it goes in the opposite direction from realism, as evidenced by scenes of nightlife that only exists in Malay movies and the Fast & Furious universe. It's not a flaw. In fact, it's kind of needed to be done because we as the audience need to gauge the kind of suspension of disbelief that's needed to go through the film.

Soon after, however, everything takes a nosedive. What follows after a good enough opening scene are a series of events that bounces back and forth between pseudo-melodrama and WWE action.

With regards to the melodrama, it suffers from the same problem as Osman Ali's Jiwa Taiko [2012] where the audience is expected to accept too many things the film won't show us. What stands out to me the most is the first scene where Faizal Hussein's and Dira Abu Zahar's character share an awkward banter, which makes me go, "Whaaaaat?!"

Which is, sayanglah. They have Faizal Hussein in there. Even Niezam Zaidi shows promise. But, well... I suppose they did their best with the material given to them.

I wish there's more to tell about the plot, but I really struggle to remember it, and ultimately decide that it's not worth the effort. Long story short, they introduce a couple of subplots almost immediately, juxtaposed with action scenes that's marginally enjoyable by casual WWE fans.

The action. Oh, the action.

As I watch the film, I wonder many times how does the two workshops hire mechanics to work for them. I imagine their resume include the ability to work with engines, brakes, and more importantly, basic training in streetfighting in addition to the cojones to drop whatever they're working on so they can participate in fights when strangers show up.

It's comical how it all plays out, and for the first time in a long time, my friends and I weren't the only ones who had a good laugh. There was another group of guys in the row behind us who mocked and jeered at everything that they saw.

As much as I understand that the story demands that kind of suspension of disbelief, I'm unwilling to play along because I find myself not caring for the characters, and all scenes of forced sentimentality did nothing to help. It's all a big "Whatever" and "Yelah yelah" to me. In fact, I think that last bit in the final action sequence sums up the film perfectly;

A wreck.

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