Mrs K (Review)

Mrs K

Mrs K
Written by Chan Wai-Keung and Ho Yuhang
Directed by Ho Yuhang

Mrs K
Kara Hui headlines another action flick with Mrs K, the star of My Young Auntie and The Inspector Wears Skirts series returns to her action roots for what is rumored to be her farewell film performance. A delivery boy brings an oversized basket filled with food to a large house in a gated community. Inside, the homemaker (Kara Hui) is bringing out a fresh batch of buns from the oven. But the delivery boy brandishes a gun, while his partner starts rummaging through the house, demanding the valuables. The housewife smiles, grabs the gun and starts smacking the delivery boy, and shooting his accomplice in the crotch with the pellet gun. She admonishes them for being so sloppy and not even having a real gun, while the delivery boy lets loose that his pregnant girlfriend is at her husband’s doctor’s office. She lets them go with a warning (and a taste of her cooking), but the accomplice isn’t done yet and makes plans to return with a weapon. But she’s already called security on them, and watches from the video feed as the guards beat and arrest them.

Mrs. K isn’t your typical housewife. She has a rich husband (Wu Bai), a daughter (Li Xuan Siow), and looks the part, but she has a past with a lot of shade, and that’s going to catch up with her real soon. But from the introductory sequence we know she’s not someone to be taken lightly and she knows her way around weapons. It’s going to take someone with a real reason to want to mess with her, and that person exists.

Macau had a casino robbery years ago, most of the plotters escaped with the money, but their inside man (Simon Yam Tat-Wah) tried to turn on them, and she shot him. Only problem was, he wasn’t shot dead, and now he’s back and very angry. Mrs K herself is first harassed by a nosy ex-cop who managed to track her down, but she turns the tables on his attempts at blackmail. What he did end up doing is lead Simon Yam’s character right to her. One quick sequence later, and her daughter is kidnapped, her husband is in the hospital, and Mrs. K is desperate to get her back, woe to anyone who gets in her way.

Mrs K doesn’t do the straight-forward female lead driven action, part of the running time is devoted to her daughter’s attempts to escape from the villains (which she does often enough thanks to bumbling co-conspirators) and her husband’s attempts to recover enough to provide help. This keeps things from becoming Mrs. K running through a gauntlet of goons, but also seems to make the film lose focus. Mrs. K had such a good introductory scene we just want more of her and less of anyone else.

Mrs K is best when it is throwing us into the thick of some rough action sequences, and there isn’t enough of them for my taste, but what we do get works and works well. The action scenes are the meat, and they deliver with some nice desperate fighting between aging heroes and villains, at times you can see on her face that Mrs K knows that some of the jumps and falls are going to be painful but must endure them to save her daughter. Characters get hurt, and their being hurt follows them throughout the movie. They are getting old and tired, but continue to fight because they must, to save their family or to enact their revenge.
Mrs K
Director Ho Yuhang is obviously a fan of Quentin Tarantino, beyond the film superficially resembling Kill Bill, it is peppered with soundtracks from Westerns. There are some nice shots such as a POV while a head is in a vice or the silhouetted killer standing off in the distance, but Ho doesn’t get too creative with shots and that ends up making the better ones stand out more than they should. The opening sequence where the fellow co-conspirators are all slaughtered is and interesting introduction, but at that point we are to confused as to who the people are and why we would care. Oddly enough, the characters are more developed in death when they appear to Mrs K as an hallucination. Fans of Hong Kong style action will enjoy Mrs K, but if you are looking for something greater, you should probably keep looking.

SFIFF 2017

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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
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.

Cicak-Man 2
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

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)

Cicak-Man 2
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Mendam Berahi (Review)

Mendam Berahi

Directed and written by Z. Lokman

Malaysian Charlie’s Angels! Yes, the Charlie’s Angels concept is so universal is seems to exist in every country on the planet. I bet there is even a Tongon Angels somewhere. This time the Angels go searching for lost treasure, which ends up with bloody gunbattles. And a little girl cries while singing. But who cares, gun battles! Chicks kicking butt! Malaysian women you’ve never heard of that Google won’t tell you anything about! It’s all here, and more!

“It just so happens that Mendam Berahi is an action flick and that the good guys are us girls. As soon as we started filming, people were already going, ‘Oh, it’s the Malaysian version of Charlie’s Angels.’ Okay, so that’s good for marketing, but it was targeted from the beginning as a pure action film.” Shaleen Cheah stated, in an argument that might hold water if Madam X didn’t refer to the girls specifically as Angels in the film.

The VCD jumps from widescreen to very widescreen, so black bars will lower and raise between shots, sometimes back and forth in the same scene. Due to the lack of information in English about Malay stars, I couldn’t provide much interesting facts, and you will have to make do with what I could pull off of gossip sites. I am not learning Malay just to do one review, especially since there are about a dozen other languages that I need to learn first. The credits give the country of origin of the players who aren’t from Malaysia, so it would say “Tracy Trinita (Indonesia)”, as opposed to Tracy Trinita (Paraguay), I guess.

Edsa (Shaleen Cheah) – Edsa is a tomboy and a tough martial artist. She is also the bitter ex-girlfriend of Zul, who hates him. A lot. Shaleen Cheah is of Chinese, Thai and Indian descent, it looks like she used the money she made from modeling and acting to go to college.
Tania (Tracy Trinita) – Tania is a recently divorced woman who now works for Madam X to try to be able to see her daughter. Her husband wrongly accused her of cheating. Indonesian Tracy Trinita was a dancer in Zoolander, which gives me something extra to look for the next time I watch it.
Mimi (Rita Rudaini) – Mimi is the instant replacement for Sara. Mimi has a history with Zul, and ends up killing most of the bad guys. Rita Rudaini seems the most famous of the girls in the film, so that’s probably why. Rita Rudaini married Malaysian national football (soccer) team player Mohd Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak in 2008, (he has a twin who also plays.) It was her second marriage and she is pregnant at the time of me writing this. She also sung the theme song “Kekal”
Madam X (Nurul Jasmin Deo) – The Charlie of the group is Madam X, played by Nurul Jasmin Deo, who I am told is a veteran actress in Malay cinema and TV. Too bad I can’t find anything out about her! Madam X seems to run some sort of network, but it is not clear what she does.
Zul (Eizlan Yusof) – Edsa’s ex-boyfriend has gone rogue and gone evil, except he decides to go back to being good, but Edsa still tells him to frak off. But Mimi is ready to accept a traitor into her heart. There is no Dana, only Zul.
Datuk Azmi (Datuk Jalaluddin Hasan) – Evil rival of Madam X who is also searching for the missing treasure, and will kill everyone to get it. I guess they don’t have laws or anything in Malaysia that would prevent some crazy nut from shooting up Kuala Lampur in order to get some mystic treasure.
Commander Jiman (???) – Bald military leader who is the Boseley character. Teaches the girls how to be better at military tactics. He looks like a military leader from a film, so he fits in fine.
Sara (???) – Sara is the original third Angel, but she is killed and replaced instantly with Mimi. I guess your goofy boyfriend can’t save you now! No clue who played her.

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Antoo Fighter (Review)

Antoo Fighter

2008SinemaMalasysia Link
Directed by Azizi Chunk

What we got here is sort of Malaysian Ghostbusters, but they use stick weapons instead of proton packs. Instead of busting ghosts we’re fighting monsters and demons. The mood is humorous, not taken too seriously, sort of like the actual Ghostbusters. With people running around in wacky costumes fighting monsters, the film can’t not be entertaining, double negative or not. Good fun. What other film let’s you see a giant Monsters Inc. character battle a giant robot? Take that, Iron Man!

Poh Jee (Radhi) – Poh Jee is our hero who dreams of a life greater than his pest extermination business. When he finds out his grandfather is a former demon fighter and is killed, Poh Jee can finally become the hero he has always wished to be. Radhi is a musician and actor
Drakulat Van Listerooy (Awie) – Drakulat is a servent of Lord Sharon, father of Satan, and longs to bring his master into our realm. Drakulat has been trying to do so for decades. Is constantly defeated by demon fighters. Awie is an actor and singer whose full name is Ahmad Azhar Bin othman.
Atuk/Pak Din (Harun Salim Bachik) – Atuk/Pak Din is Poh Jee’s grandfather and the last of the demon fighters (because Gultur just quit.) He is killed when Drakulat is freed, and passes on his tools to his grandson.
Lara Lenjan (Scha) – Lara drives a taxi, and is luckily there when Poh Jee needs a vehicle to chase after his grandfather. It also turns out she is one of the chosen to fight demons. A tough girl who is almost always wearing a baseball cap. Scha’s full name is Sharifah Nor Azean Bt Syed Mahadzir. Imagine that on a marquee! She is a hostess, model, and actress who also speaks English. Check out her gallery.
Opie (Nasrizal Ngasri) – A tire thief who turns out to be one of the chosen to become the next generation of demon fighters. Opie has an abrasive personality, but as Poh Jee is also loud, he fits right into the group. Nasrizal Ngasri is an actor, and that is the entirety of the information about him in English online.
Rambo (Bront Palarae) – Rambo is the effeminate member of the group who gets the least amount of characterization. So I can’t really give you an idea as to what Rambo is, besides named after an American movie franchise. Bront Palarae is an actor, director, and writer.
Tasya (???) – Tasya is the other female member of the group, who is dressed up like a stereotypical conservative female bookworm. Thus Opie immediately takes a liking to her. She is the one to turn to when you need someone who has read the instructions manual for a device.

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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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New Review – Cicak Man

The first Malaysian super hero film is the first Malaysian film I have seen and the first on TarsTarkas.NET, Cicak Man. But it won’t be the last! Join us as we try to make sense of another culture’s comedy, watch redheaded Rastafarians take on a gecko man as a Malaysian Jim Carrey spazzes out. Thrill as the comedy has a surprise tragic twist! Wonder how close the costume is to Daredevil’s! All this plus a movie clip. Read it today!