Cicakman 2 – Planet Hitam (Review)
Cicak Man 2 – Planet Hitam
Directed by Yusry Kru (Yusry Abdul Halim)
Written by Yusry Kru and Meor Shariman
Cicak Man 2: Planet Hitam is an improvement on the original Cicak Man in almost every aspect. And while the original film had a few moments, it was mired in annoyances that just turned me off. The sequel manages to drop almost everything bad about the original film while ramping up almost everything good. It’s good to see something that might get noticed come out of Malaysian cinema.
Much of the original cast returns, even some characters who are dead show up to continue the fun. Danny does not return, even though Yusry Kru wrote and directed this installment as well. I think a dream cameo was filmed, but didn’t make it into the cut, because production synopsis mention Danny helping. The two Gingers (Adlin Aman Ramlie and AC Mizal) return in ghost form to harass Cicakman. Also Malaysian model Linda Onn has a brief role as Tania’s man-hungry camerawoman.
The overall setting is far less grand. Metrofulus looks less like the city of fantasy and Libertarian excess it was in the original film and looks more like Kuala Lumpur. This probably helped budget-wise, without the added pressure to dress up the city, they were freer to spend the money on other things like action set pieces. Though I thought some of the culture of Metrofulus was some of the more interesting parts of the original, I am glad they set themselves free to do more things. Saiful Apek is far less annoying as Hairi/Cicak Man this time around. I don’t know if he’s supposed to be acting more mature now that his friend had died, or that Apek realized that if he toned it down a few notches the film would be much more palatable for overseas audiences. In any event, it is a welcome change, and helps push Cicakman 2 far beyond its predecessor in enjoyability, the one factor that really matters. The fact we aren’t stuck with filling much of the running time with an origin story helps put the plot on a more traditional arc. No new ground is broken in the super hero genre, but that genre is so saturated at the moment that you have to work very hard indeed to go somewhere that hasn’t been gone before. Cicakman instead is trying to take familiar elements and make them Malaysian. Hairi’s life seems much more relatable now than when he was a wacky scientist in the original, with the struggling to find a job and family responsibilities.
Remember, cicak=gecko, and hitam=black, so the flick is Geckoman 2 – Planet Black. Now you are an expert in Malaysian.
Cicak Man 2 takes up a few months after the original leaves off. Hairi is still Cicak Man, and thanks to the antidote developed by his late friend Danny, he no longer has to worry about devolving into a gecko as long as he keeps up the medicine. Hairi has quit his job as a research scientist for Professor Klon’s disgraced company, wanting to work for a job that wasn’t against his morals. But every job he ends up getting he loses due to absences at work because of Cicak Man duties. Hairi is also looking after Danny’s blind sister Iman, who serves the function of giving him someone to talk to.
Tania is back as well, and her sworn hatred of Cicak Man at the end of the original film has turned to curiosity over who he truly is. She now works for Fulus News as a reporter. Not a very good reporter, much is shown of her fumbling around on air. We have a new female in the mix, a villainess named Rrama that looks like Catwoman – except she’s a butterfly, see! She has wings that show up once or twice. Rrama is a killer, but not a stone cold killer, she’s red hot as she enjoys it so much. Killing is an art to her, she performs her slaughters as though painting a masterpiece on canvas. She views killing Cicak Man as the ultimate art piece that she’s determined to finish.
A consortium of evil bad guys consisting of every villain stereotype in history – cowboy, American businessman, African witch doctor, scarred yakuza, Arab terrorist, etc. – are set to do some evil terrorist stuff. And they’re led by their secret leader – the disgraced Professor Klon! He and Rrama have a new plan, to poison the world’s water supply so they can profit from producing the cure to the poison, thus controlling the world! The best parts of these meetings is one guy randomly says “What in the wide wide world of sports?” during one of Klon’s speeches.
Professor Klon proceeds with his black water plan, turning the water of the city black. Then he goes on TV and declares the President of Metrofulus poisoned the water so they could jack up the price, and he’s going to counter with the water purifier to stop them. But he first needs the people to overthrow the government. The people are like “Sure!” How low are the President of Metrofulus’s approval ratings that people will join up with a supervillain? I’d complain about this more, but here in America we have many supervillains in elected positions, so it’s not that far fetched.
During attempts to stop muggers, Cicak Man is harassed either by Rrama or by the ghosts of the Gingers. He can’t seem to get any peace. The only way he can figure out to fight off the ghosts is to see a feng shui expert, Miss Chee, who is so dragon lady it hurts. She warns him to beware the butterfly – meaning Rrama.
The president resigns amid the protests and chaos, and Professor Klon shows up in a huge tank dressed like a low-rent Iron Man. He announces water purifiers have been given to leading businessmen to be sold to the public, then drives off in his tank. Cicak Man hitches a ride and finds the hidden base. But Cicak Man himself is tracked by Rrama, who’s secret identity is Amarr the cameralady for Tania. As Amarr is played by a different hot actress (Linda Onn), we see her rip off her face Mission Impossible style to reveal Rrama underneath.
After fighting Rrama once again, Cicak Man goes to the water reservoir to fight Professor Klon. There he has another battle with Rrama on a dirty railed walkway in the reservoir cave that looks like something out of Goldeneye.
Thanks to the power of his tongue, he goes from losing to winning. He demands she take him to Klon, but she says that was the idea and everything is a trap. Iron Man Klon is happy to see Cicak Man, because they have Iman held hostage over latex – which is also the weakness of Cicak Man (Wait a minute…) This leads to a battle with Klon and Rrama as Iman is slowly lowered into the latex and as the timer to release the black poison into the world’s water supply ticks down.
Cicak Man saves the day by stopping the countdown and defeating Rrama once and for all. But Iman is still in danger as Professor Klon becomes the new end level boss with rocket boots and super strength. Cicak Man going down for the count…when the ghost gingers arrive, mad at Klon because he killed them! Finally, the Ghostbusters not being around is useful, as these ghosts stop Klon and let Cicak Man save Iman. And Tania was there, filming the whole thing for the news, so now everyone knows Professor Klon was evil – even though they already knew that from last time.
Cicak Man 2 is a marked improvement over the original. The story is more comic book villain, but seems more dangerous and personal. The characters are less annoying, and Rrama adds a sense of exciting danger that the Gingers never seemed to have.
Rated 7/10 (butterfly dart, supermodel teacher, the President, camerawoman fakeout, tracker, don’t walk stand still, the longest don’t walk countdown in history!)
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