Friday, March 16, 2018

KL Special Force [2018]

Director: Syafiq Yusof
Writer: Syafiq Yusof
Genre: Action/Thriller
Rating: General

Badass Cop's attempt to foil a bank robbery goes south when the robbers come out guns blazing, and all the good guys get turned into Swiss cheese. Badass Cop is spared, however, under the condition that he becomes an informant for the gang. Then the story becomes confused over what it wants to be and I wish I was dead too.

All right, so here are the ways where KL Special Force went right:

- Rosyam Nor*
- Top notch chase & fight scenes.
- Attempts at intrigue*
- Syamsul Yusof rapping over the credits

Here are the ways where it went seriously wrong:

First of all, I'd be really happy if KL Special Force ends up revitalising Rosyam Nor's career the way Taken [2008] revitalised Liam Neeson's. Granted, Rosyam Nor has never really faded - if anything, dude gets more interesting with every passing year - but you know what I mean. Like you re-brand the guy as an action star after the LOLfest that was Castello [2006].

Unfortunately, a bulk of the movie didn't do his charisma and talent justice, as he was (I assume) directed to out-Syamsul and out-Fattah both guys, which meant he had to take his acting range down to just A and B. So much so, when he had a little bit more room to showcase his skills, you'd notice (I count four scenes where he really shone).

Speaking of skills, you gotta give credit to Fattah Amin who’s varying it up a little, showing his capabilities as an action star.

But that also brings us to a thing that doomed the movie barely ten minutes into it: characters.

Never discount the importance of interesting characters even if it's just a "straightforward action flick". Which, by the way, isn't what KL Special Force wanted to be. So what did the movie wanted to be? I don’t know because the movie didn’t know either – as seen in the characters.

The impression that you’d get watching it, it’s like the story was written in a linear line of thinking, and they didn’t know how the scenes are going to progress until they get to it. That in itself isn’t a bad thing. Plenty of good stories out there are written the same way. Elmore Leonard, Stephen King, Lee Child are among many who don’t plot and don’t know how their stories gonna end until they get to it.

But what do all these writers have in common? They come up with superbly interesting characters, and leave it up to them to progress the story. With KL Special Force, the story was dictated by shock values, red herrings, false twists and turns; and all the paper-thin characters were just along for the ride. If you spend five minutes thinking about it after it's over, the whole story falls apart quicker than that massacre scene in the beginning.

For example, imagine this scene (that’s not in the movie): A guy takes a hostage. He gets cornered by a cop. Then they share a laugh because it turns out that the cop is also an informant for their mob boss. Then the hostage laughs because he’s an informant too, and all three of them knew it. Suddenly the cop shoots the hostage. End scene.

No rhyme, no reason. But you didn’t see that coming, did you? Like, it would have made as much sense if the cop suddenly dropped his pants and mooned the other two. You wouldn’t have seen that coming either, would you? That’s the sort of logic the movie operated on – and banked on.

Perhaps that’s all untrue, but that’s the impression I got.

I can see the parodies coming already. Like, every guy that Fattah Amin shoots turns out to be an undercover cop and he didn’t know it.

Buuuut ultimately, I’m just gonna chalk it up to a bad outing. Syafiq Yusof has proven himself time and again that he’s not just a competent action director, but a good one. What he has yet to prove himself is whether he’s capable of writing three-dimensional characters. We’ve seen him try before with SAM [2012]. This was another unsuccessful attempt.

Of course, I’m not ruling out that perhaps he’s capable after all, but purposely does it this way because he knows his audience – it just so happens that I’m not one of them.


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