Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Antoo Fighter: Amukan Drakulat! – review

Director: Azizi Chunk Adnan

Release date: 2008

Contains spoilers

This Malay film was really quiet odd. On the surface a kind of Ghostbusters rip off using various monsters; some of these were recognisably Pontianak (including a transvestite Pontianak (Rabiatul Adawiyah)) and a kyonsi (Azron Othman). Others were various types of ghosts/monsters from different mythologies.

Awie as Drakulat
The leader of the monsters was Drakulat Van Listerooy (Awie) who had fangs, pointed ears a long extending third arm (when wished for) and giant bat wings. Now, there is no IMDb page for the film (at the time the article was written) but there was a Malaysian Wikipedia page, which can be found here. This confirmed that Drakulat was a vampire – of Dutch origin apparently.

mystic beams from crescent staffs
It also gave a breakdown of characters. There are the crescent warriors, who are the good guys. Now, crescent will be two fold, firstly these demon hunters carry spears topped with a crescent symbol that fires mystic energies to defeat the antoo (the monsters). Secondly there are a couple of comments through the film that indicate that the good guys are Muslim, nothing wrong with that and it isn’t in your face.

the chosen
More problematic was the thought, offered by the Wikipedia page, that the bad guys were the council of Zion. Did this mean that the filmmakers associated the monsters with Jews? Was it simply another movie reference, perhaps to the Matrix? I don’t know but I can say that there is nothing anti-Semitic actually displayed in film (that I noticed), though the thought that it might be anti-Semitic at a conception level is disturbing. The film itself follows Poh Jee (Radhi OAG) as he discovers that he, and four others, are the new generation of demon fighters – selected through a birth mark.

Poh Jee in action
The film actually started with Drakulat and his minions being defeated decades before and trapped in a box. They had been trying to use a virgin sacrifice (of a girl related to Drakulat) to summon Lord Sharon, Satan’s son, into the world. In the modern day some children find the box and release the monsters who promptly start terrorising the neighbourhoods until taking over the KL Tower in Kuala Lumpur. Poh Jee rounds up the new group of demon hunters and rushes to the rescue of Delyla (Delyla Adnan) the new sacrifice and Poh Jee’s crush.

That skips a lot of film that, truthfully, does little anyway. To me the filmmakers should have jumped to the demon fighting quicker and maybe cut down the running time which was at least 30 minutes too long. The comedy didn’t work for me – though that might be cultural – however I felt it relied much, too much on a slapstick comedy found in both the physical humour and a slapstick narrative. Little in film errors didn’t help, for instance their in film guru, Guntur (Usop Kopratasa), tells them that humans (and all natural life) are water based but demons are nitrous dioxide based, or N2O – hence he has named them antoo and yet Poh Jee inherits a book earlier in the film about how to fight antoo.

I hate to say it, but this one did little for me. However it is the only film that I am aware of that brings together Pontianak, kyonsi and vampires. 3 out of 10.


Anon38a2urUh said...

While it's understandable that Ariel Sharon would be unpopular in Malaysia, if 'Lord Sharon' is a reference to him that would lend support to Council of Zion being intended to allude specifically to Jews.

In addition, in 2003 the Malaysian prime minster paraphrased the hoax antisemitic conspiracy text The Protocols of the Elders of Zion during a speech, which suggests that this kind of sentiment is not an outlier in a Malaysian context.

In any case, it's unfortunate that the filmmakers chose to give that name to the villains' organization.


Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Halek, I hadn't picked on the potential Ariel Sharon connection - indeed I was trying to summon up a mythological creature with the name Sharon and failing.

Didn't realise about the paraphrasing of the protocols.

Ultimately I think we can conclude (despite wishfull thinking to the opposite) that there was an anti-semetic subtext unfortunately. This is largely unseen in the film (bar the name Lord Sharon) however, and is in the film's background material online.