Cicakman 2 – Planet Hitam (Review)

Cicak Man 2 – Planet Hitam

Directed by Yusry Kru (Yusry Abdul Halim)
Written by Yusry Kru and Meor Shariman

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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.

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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.
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Hairi (Saiful Apek) – Hairi has matured as Cicakman, but still deals with the struggle of being a super hero and trying to hold down a regular job, with the fact he has to run off and beat up bad guys all of the time. When Professor Klon returns with a new scheme, Hairi has more on his plate than ever before!
Cicak-Man (Saiful Apek) – Cicakman has the power of geckos, the strength of geckos, the red costume of geckos. Geckos!!
Tania (Fasha Sandha) – Hairi’s crush who used to like Dannial. Was Professor Klon’s secretary, but is now working at Fulus News. Is determined to find out who Cicakman is. We put up a Fasha Sandha gallery when we reviewed the original Cicakman
Professor Klon (Aznil Nawawi) – Professor Klon is back, and comes in both crazy homeless guy and crazy Jim Carrey modes! This time, his scheme is to con the entire planet into buying water purifiers to clean water he pollutes. Oh, that dastardly Professor Klon! Will Cicakman be able to stop him?
Rrama (Tamara Bleszynski) – A psychopathic killer who sees her murder sprees as artwork. she wants to make the ultimate masterpiece and kill Cicakman! And she teams up with Professor Klon to do it. Rrama is costumed after a butterfly, though she looks like many other masked female comic book characters. Yeah, yeah, get your Rendezvous with Rrama jokes out of the way. Tamara Bleszynski is an actress model based out of Indonesia, of mixed Polish/Sundanese heritage.
Iman (Sharifah Amani) – Imam is Danny’s blind sister, who Cicakman now takes care of as a moral obligation to his late friend. She doesn’t know he is Cicakman, despite the fact he’ll change into Cicakman right in front of her. This is why all superheroes have blind friends. Look it up! Sharifah Amani is the second daughter of famous Malaysian actress Fatimah Abu Bakar. She is probably most famous for playing Orked in Yasmin Ahmad’s Orked trilogy (Sepet, Gubra, and Mukhsin)
Miss Chee (Louisa Chong) – A Feng Shui guru who helps Cicakman deal with all the weirdo stuff happening. A former auditor and newsreader, Louisa Chong (born Louisa Alissa Chong Abdullah) gained fame from the tv series 2 Campur 1 (2 Plus 1)

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Cicak Man (Review)

Cicak Man

Directed by Yusry Kru

Cicak Man is Malaysia’s first super-hero film and was the first Malaysian film I saw. It is not a straight film, but instead a comedy, something I was not aware of when I watched it. In viewing many films from around the world, one thing you notice is some comedy translates well, and some comedy dies a horrible death under your sink. Usually, the more talky comedy is the hardest to translate, but there is another type that is hard to pass, and that is the comedy of body language. Many comedians throughout the world have their own body language types, and it is often interesting to seen what different people see as goofy comedy. Saiful Apek is a popular comedian in Malaysian and does what I am guessing is his signature goofy style, but to many outside observers I can see how it would translate poorly into some annoying guy with spastic convulsions. I am going to admit it took me a while to get used to how he acted, especially since I thought he was just the wacky sidekick character as Yusry Kru plays the confident ladies man part really well. But Saiful Apek’s Hairi Yatim ends up getting the genetic alterations that turn him into Cicak Man (Gecko Man) and inherits all the problems that entails. And he did eventually grow on me, but this is not a film that will have wide crossover appeal or show the world the wonders of Malaysian cinema.

Super hero comedies are not a new thing in Southeast Asia, the Philippines puts out dozens of such films and Thailand has their own brand of goofy films. Cicak Man tried to be a bit more ambitious than the usual “some comedian gets wacky super powers” route and went for creating a distinct universe for Cicak Man to take place in. The setting is the city of Metrofulus, which looks to be a cross of Chicago and Metropolis, with some San Francisco thrown in for kicks. The weather is snowy, nothing like the tropical climate of Malaysia. The money there is called fulus. There is also taxes on everything. Nothing is free in Metrofulus, from riding the bus to walking on the sidewalk. It is some sort of Libertopia, except Libertopia is threatened (besides from the fact that Libertarianism is stupid) by an evil professor looking to make money off of the cures for diseases he also designs himself. Hey, it’s a free market, baby! Thus, Cicak Man must stop him before it is too late.

Hairi Yatim (Saiful Apek) – A jumpy guy, he likes Tania but is too nervous. He sort of acts like a Wayans brother. Afraid of rubber. Saiful Apek was born Mohd Saifulazam Mohamed Yusoff and is a famous comedian in Malaysia
Cicak Man (Saiful Apek) – Part man, part cicak, all cop. Or not. Cicak Man has the powers of a gecko, which means he can climb on walls and promotes Geico.”Down, Down and Away!” is a catchphrase.
Dannial Johan (Yusry Kru) – confident ladies man and Hairi’s best friend. Works in the lab with Hairi Yusry Kru is called KRU member Yusry in his director’s credit. His real name is Yusry Abd Halim, and he not only wrote and directed this film, but the sequel as well. He gets all the credit, and the blame.
Professor Klon (Aznil Nawawi) – Professor Klon speaks in third person and is doing a Jim Carrey Riddler impression. He has the satan’s horns hairstyle down pat. Professor Klon invents viruses and their cures, then releases the viruses on the city and makes money off of his patented cures. Then he is ready to take over the country by replacing ministers with his evil replicants.
Tania Ashraf (Fasha Sandha) – Klon’s secretary and object of Hairi’s desires. Fasha Sandha is a model and actress, as well as a best-selling novelist. The best part about looking up photos of her online was running across fundamentalist Islamic websites showing pictures of her in a tank top as proof of the moral rot destroying Malaysia. If that is the case, then destroy away! According to the scandal blogs, she is a homewrecker and got her current man Rizal Ashram Ramli after she stole him from his pregnant wife. Check out this gallery of her pictures!
Ginger 1 (Adlin Aman Ramlie) – The Gingers are mute, reddish versions of those albino rasta twins from The Matrix Reloaded. They are Professor Klon’s enforcers and thus enemies of Cicak Man.
Ginger 2 (AC Mizal) – Ginger 2 is just like Ginger 1, except he collects stamps. Important difference.
Evil Cicak Man (???) – All heroes need evil duplicates of themselves, it’s the law. Evil Cicak Man has a black costume, which you can probably thank Spiderman for.

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