I thought long and hard about what movie suits the subject of Merdeka. You might disagree with me, but I’m telling you right now, you’re wrong. This movie has everything you need to finally shout “Merdeka!” at the end of it. Bullies? Check. Tragic backstory? Check. Hero arc? Check.
Before you think I’m crazy or anything, let me just give you a run down of the movie. Basically, it’s about a college boy who lives with his mum. He’s constantly bullied and tormented because he’s “not like the others”. He also has a crush on the bully’s girlfriend, so maybe that’s also why the bully hates him so much. Along the way, he found out he has superpowers and took it upon himself to fight bad guys with it.
I went into this movie expecting to see a huge giant man asking the main character to choke down his vomit to make him a stronger person. You know, like those books of Badang we used to read as a kid? But silly me, I guess. The story is a whole lot different. If you’re planning on watching it, I would like to warn you that there are spoilers in this.
Directed by Datuk Prof. Dr. A. Razak Mohaideen, this movie had a one star rating on IMDB. That in itself was calling out to me, so I just had to watch it.
The movie starts off with a Marvel-esque way of introducing the hero and his accomplishments. It shows freeze frames of the main character fighting off villains and ends with a huge title card of the movie’s name. I’m not going to lie, at first, I didn’t think it was all that good and it ran a little too long. But after watching this for like three times now, it weirdly grew on me. I appreciate its creativeness, at least.
Aliff Syukri plays the role of Badrol, the main character who doesn’t have much going for him. He’s skinny and frail and bullied by almost everyone. His entire class thinks he’s a fool, even his own lecturer. He finds solace in his Zumba classes that he frequently attends.
If I didn’t know this was a “superhero” movie, I’d half expect this to be a sort of knock-off “Step Up” from the way it was filmed.
There’s also a scene after his Zumba classes where the bullies ganged up on him. We see them threatening to paint his face “like a girl’s” since he liked “girly” things like dancing instead of enjoying Muay Thai like them. I’m unsure if I like that part or not. On one hand, it shows the violence of toxic masculinity that’s very much present in the real world and on the other, they just brush it aside very quickly. What does it matter that you like Zumba and that you’re a dude? Everyone has hobbies. Let people enjoy things.
The Unfortunate Events
After you think the bullies have had their fun and finally leave our main character alone, they ambush him while he takes a shower to wash off the remnants of paint on his face. While he was showering, they ran off with his clothes and took secret pictures of him wearing a cardboard box as an alternative since he didn’t want to go around campus naked.
The scene drags on to him getting further bullied the next day for showing interest towards the lead bully’s supposed girlfriend, Tisya, played by Fasha Sandha. Honestly, I’m more amazed that they got her to play the role of the love interest because isn’t she like an A-list actor or something? What’s she doing here?
And if this is still the introductory part of the movie, then it’s been going on for far too long. There are so many characters and they’re all just so boring. There’s not much depth in their characteristics at all and I literally couldn’t care less about any of them. So let’s move on, shall we?
While Badrol was running away from his bullies for the nth time, he found a sort of makeshift bamboo forest place next to his University where he could hide. But low and behold, the bamboo is magic and made him invisible! If there’s one thing I can commend for this movie, it would be their special effects. Although it’s not Hollywood level by any means, I’d say it’s pretty good!
Another turn of events, it turns out that the girl Badrol likes has a gangster for a brother. Oh, this movie is just full of surprises, isn’t it? Now that we’ve been introduced to the bad guys in the movie, we get to see who it is our hero would be dealing with.
We’re only 20 minutes in and another “surprise” presents itself. It turns out that his mum knew of his power because she found him in a bamboo shoot when he was a baby. I’m not kidding. He was inside the bamboo. And because he was already of age the day he hid from his bullies, his powers decided to show themselves. You know, sometimes, things don’t have to make sense. It helps keep us on our toes.
Five minutes later, Badrol’s mum got run over by a car that’s driven by a group of gangsters that’s related to Tisya’s brother. So as you’ve guessed, since his mum’s in the hospital and would eventually succumb to her wounds, he decided to embrace his hero side and fight off the bad guys that killed his mother.
As luck would have it, they aren’t normal gangsters either. They’re villains with really bad intentions that need to be stopped. Something about planting bombs all over the city? I wasn’t really listening.
We also get a whole montage scene of him testing out his powers and his now girlfriend, Tisya, making him an ugly green costume so people won’t know who he is while he’s saving them. She’s no fashion designer, but girl. Come on. It’s so ugly.
The Mighty Hath Fallen
So, what have we learned so far? That Badrol, apparently, is some sort of alien baby that was born from inside a bamboo plant. And that he has super strength and super speed and can teleport anywhere in the world with just TikTok transition.
At this point, I’ve stopped asking questions because the answers would always be more bizarre and I don’t have the mental capacity to think it through.
Let’s just say bad things happen and that no matter how strong and invincible you think you are, everyone has a weakness. For Badrol, or Badang, as he likes to be called when it comes to his hero form, his Kryptonite happens to be water. I wasn’t expecting that but okay, I guess.
The bad guys kidnapped his girlfriend as collateral and threatened to kill her if he didn’t turn himself in to them because he was a nuisance by always interrupting their plans to take over the city. To save his girlfriend, he turned himself in and was tortured.
The bad guys found out about his weakness to water and put him under a small waterfall in their lair to stop him from interfering with their plans any further. No worries, though. He eventually got out and managed to save the entire city.
Overall, I wouldn’t say the movie is horrible, exactly. Some of the dialogue was pretty funny. I just really hated the green costume and that the movie drags on for far longer than it should be. There are also too many unnecessary scenes that could have been cut to make the movie go at a better pace.
This movie was an hour and 40 minutes long! Half of the time was filled with just random montage scenes.
With all that said, I would also like to recommend this movie to anyone who feels like their lives are mundane and not exciting enough. At the end of the movie, you’ll feel even worse than you did before. Jokes aside, it’s a decent enough movie to watch during Merdeka simply because of the message it tries to tell you about fighting for your right and saving the people you love.
Give this movie a try, maybe you’ll like it. If you don’t, check out our other movie reviews for more trauma: