I’ve had the privilege to watch Afdlin Shauki‘s 4th film, sometime this week. Was planning on doing this review for quite some time, but to no avail, thanks to Streamyx.
Funny, Streamyx belongs to TM, the owner of Celcom, whose logo, ringtone, advert, and even personnel was spread all over almost every scene. Something that makes me loath Celcom, although I’m using it right now.
In a nutshell, Sumo-lah is a story of Ramlee, a fat, lazy guy, who found himself roped into Honda‘s (the Boleh Sushi‘s owner, not the car) Sumo team, to compete with 60 other teams from Sushi restaurants all over Malaysia.
Working in Boleh Sushi, and training for the team, Ramlee finds the best of himself, and proceeds to go forward against all odds.
There, no spoilers at all. :p
As with all Afdlin‘s movies, I need to emphasize the genre, before going on nitpicking. Sumo-lah is a comedy, with a heavy message to all Malaysians, especially Malays. You can find a lot of times when you’d feel like the lines are talking about you, if you’d want to admit it.
Jokes are aplenty, mind you. Funny, witty, slapstick, and hit-you-on-the-nose kind of jokes, all in one movie. All uniquely Afdlin‘s style, and watch out for the dubbed jokes. After all, this is a comedy. It is a light movie, but bearing a heavy message for all viewers. In fact, I think the most well timed joke in Malaysian film history, is in one scene during the tournament.
Story wise, it is supposed to be a winner. It’s the story of an underdog, rising from zero, to becoming a rikishi (that doesn’t sound right, but rikishi is Japanese for a Sumo Wrestler). Characters are abundant, and very different from each other, although not that different from Afdlin’s older productions.
But bringing the characters to life, was marred by language barriers. First, was the need of several characters to speak in Japanese, or in Japanese slang. To me, only Akira (Gurmit Singh) managed to pull a believable act (I don’t know if it’s really his voice, since I was watching the outtakes during the credits. Some actors had to be dubbed over by someone else.). Being someone who can comprehend a little Japanese, I could believe that he’s actually a Japanese, albeit a little tanned.
While Honda (Patrick Teoh) is acceptable, Sai (I don’t know how to spell her full name) had issues with language, from Malay, to Japanese. She needs to be voiced over by someone else most of the time, if not all. I guess, she does not need to do much in this movie, but to look nice. After all, it seems to be Afdlin‘s trademark to have a gorgeous babe for the heroine. 3 movies prior to this, has models in them, but I’m not sure about Sai. But when no scripts are needed, Sai did manage act convincingly. There’s a part where she had a hopeful look, hoping for someone to come through the door, to me, that scene works.
Speaking about girls, this movie will be heaven for those who love Kebaya and Kimono (ahem!). They are in abundance throughout this movie, no joke. Almost every main female cast appears in a Kebaya at least once, and the Japanese wears Kimono most of the time here. It may not be a realistic scene, but more like an effort to emphasize on culture, something we’re losing grip of. Ours, and Japanese culture, are not that different in essence, but theirs have penetrated the world, while ours are being forgotten by our own. It’s not impossible for us to be like the Japanese, like Ramlee said, “Awek jepun makan keropok lekor…“
What I love most in this movie, is the training in Japan scene, and the tournament. A very familiar commentator and his very familiar style, managed to liven up the scenes. All of the sudden, Sumo does not seem like two fat men pushing each other anymore, but looks as skilled and as exciting as Pro Wrestling. If only the scenes were not littered by annoying blue logos.
Okay, here’s my biggest gripe about this movie. When Afdlin told me (and a few of his fans) about how Celcom‘s representative do not want Sumo-lah to be like Gangster, which was essentially Julie’s 2 hour long advertisement, I was relieved. He said that Celcom wants it not to seem cheap. But having Celcom logo in 80% of the movie, is really cheap. It’s not only in the background, but in the foreground too! Unless Celcom wants to follow Digi‘s footstep and start a ‘count the logo’ contest?
There are 2 main sponsor that can be seen throughout the movie, namely Celcom and Ogawa. While Ogawa‘s part were more subtle, and practical, Celcom‘s was ridiculous. Come on, Celcom. The only Celcom advert that I prefer was the ones where Maya Karin, and Stephen talking. That looks “exclusive”. Take a cue from Digi, please?
All in all, I prefer Buli to Sumo-lah. The idea is there, but the implementation was somewhat marred by those I’ve mentioned above. Afdlin, I’m waiting for a Buli comeback…not something bigger or bolder, but something we would be watching again and again. I know I can still watch Buli again and again, at least until the last part, but Sumo-lah, is not quite worth it.
Am hoping the best for Los dan Faun, though.
Verdict: 3/5 (Lost 1 star due to the brand placements, but a must watch for Malaysian Movies!)
p/s: Shima, you look stunning in Kebaya!!! Nanti aku screen capture babak tu, simpan wat kenangan…