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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Lizard Woman (Review)

Lizard Woman

aka Tuk Kae Phii

Directed by Manop Udomdej

Lizard Woman is from Thailand, and in Thailand and other parts of southeast Asia there are geckos everywhere. Geckos permeate the culture, they are like lizard cockroaches and poop all over. The big city is supposed to be above having geckos around, which is indicative of the countryside and the less modern people who live there. Yes, class struggles in Thailand, how interesting. Regardless, gecko women is a common horror meme, there are probably a lot of ancient tales about them related to the snake-women phenomenon that is all over Asia. I know of one other Gecko horror movie (called Gecko, believe it or not! And I have it on vcd…) and have seen enough covers of Thai films to know there are probably others.

Kwanpilin (Rungrawee Barijindakul) – A writer who has recently gained fame due to her horror novels, particularly one centered on evil lizard spirits. The same types of spirits who will now possess her! The actress is credited as Rungraree Barijindakul thanks to the multiple ways to translate Thai into English.
Vitool (Pete Thongchua) – Psychiatrist boyfriend of Kwanpilin who spends most of the film not believing his girlfriend is possessed. You can’t spell Vitool without “tool”. He is particularly lame, and I took great joy in his death.
Reporter (Chatthapong Pantanaunkul) – Photographer who catches glimpses of the geckos in his photographs, prompting him to investigate further. He is a totally extra character, so of course he dies.
Brother of the Maid (???) – Brother (I am guessing, he might be the boyfriend but they didn’t seem that close) of Kwanpilin’s maid Aunt Sai, he joins Reporter in the search for the truth of the gecko women upon his sisters death. He has a big heart, and if you don’t believe me Kwanpilin has ripped it out for all to see!
Gecko People (various) – A good chunk of the film is a side story about people who go caving and then get lost in the woods, and get all geckoed the frak up. I didn’t pay much attention at first because it looks like Kwanpilin was writing this as a story within a story, but it kept going. Gecko people are like a weird version of the J-Horror ghost girls.

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