Friday, September 11, 2015


Of all the movies I've written, my favourite is MySpy. It set out to do just one thing and managed to do it despite all the odds against it.

MySpy was my love letter to the '80s films of Sam Hui, Chow Sing Chi and others as well as Shin Chan. Growing up, I really, really loved Tricky Master, Aces Go Places, Forbidden City Cop, Hail the Judge, etc.

I didn't want to do anything dramatic or epic or artsy fartsy. I wanted to do something I'd like to watch on a Saturday afternoon, possibly on TV2 or whatever.

Because the movies that I remember are not Oscar winners or Titanic (I've never seen Titanic). It's those dumb movies RTM keeps showing because they're cheap. Also, some of those cheap movies are some of the best.

The story was that I got a call from KRU who asked me to do a buddy cop movie like Bad Boys. Probably Lethal Weapon or something. Another Odd Couple thing.

I thought the best was Sam Hui and his sidekicks Karl Maka, Eric Tsang (who also directed Aces Go Places) and others. It's the pairing of Stephen Chow and Ng Man Tat or Elvis Tsui, more recently with Lam Chi Chung.

These pairings were not necessarily traditional Odd Couple, but they worked because they set up each other so well for stupid gags.

So in the beginning, that's what I had - setups for gags. One of the things is a reference to Shin Chan with the eggplant painting that's worth a lot of money. Another is a nod to Yakitate! Japan! There's a bunch of other references to Benny Hill, Mr Bean and yes, a lot of Sam Hui and Chow Sing Chi.

In one of the lowest-rated Aces Go Places movies, King Kong (Sam Hui) had these little robots that helped him fight an even bigger robot. So most of the stupid gadgets were inspired by that film. Budget constraints meant they couldn't do much with the ideas, but it looked okay in the end.

Actually, the gadgets were supposed to look even dumber and would have to seem as if it was cobbled together from stuff they had lying around. Unfortunately, this was difficult for props people to do. Practical effects are extremely harder than computer-generated ones, I believe, but they did a decent job.

After the film was released, the reviews were horrible. My friends called and told me they watched it and it was horrible and I should be ashamed of myself. I called one of the actresses in the movie for an interview about something and she mentioned that the script in MySpy was horrendous.

I even read interviews from the director - Afdlin Shauki - almost apologising for MySpy. And gave me more credit for the movie than I deserve, which I should really thank him for as I later discovered.

A week after MySpy was released, my sister called me up and said, "Fuck you. You did this thing, so you face up to it. You own it."

And I was like, "But I don't wanna. I only got paid this much and it's the director and whaaa whaaa."

She dragged me to Midvalley Megamall and we watched MySpy together. I was originally cringing in my seat but as the movie went on and I realised since nobody gave a shit about this movie and everyone thought the script was really bad, they left most of it as is.

So I began to enjoy this movie. This dumb thing I wrote that was filled with my childhood films and favourite manga, and I absolutely loved it. Mostly.

The stupid gags were all there, and the cast even added their own lines in some parts, making the scene better than when I wrote it.

I'm always in love with my own work, with my own ideas. I think if everyone did what I told them to, how I told them to, the world would be a much better place. Sadly, no one ever listens, so I went away to do my own thing.

Right now, I will only do things I can have a lot of creative control over. Or if I play the role of publisher, I make sure the creators get as much creative freedom as possible. There is value in owning your own work, to be able to exercise your creativity. And for people to take ownership and be accountable for what they did and didn't do, creatively.

Lots of people hated MySpy - including those who did the movie. But I loved it, and I think it's one of the best films Malaysia ever made.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Pitches, Bitches

So I've been waiting for the Malaysian film industry to die a natural death in the hopes that I could contribute to its rebuilding cycle.

Now, though, I'm not sure I should. All the movies I've been involved in have won multiple awards and some didn't do too badly at the box office, especially in retrospect. However, without financial security or creative control over stuff I write for the film industry, I doubt that I could do much of a difference.

Here are some of my ideas I'm going to try pitch anyway to develop on my own. I'm just putting them out here for fun.

1. Nuklear

Nuklear is about a guy who believes that if he's happy for five minutes, he'd be sad for five minutes. Since he could remember, every time he's happy, a man in a white suit appears and would wait until he's sad to balance the scales.

One day, he falls in love.

And then he believes that him being happy will cause a nuclear war that would destroy all human life.

2. Nadim

In this universe, Hang Nadim was not killed after he saved Singapore. Instead, he was raised in the palace and became good friends with the Sultan who is his age. It's like Forbidden City Cop and Detective Dee.

One day, the job of Laksamana opens up and he is in the running with five other guys. The other guys all have supernatural powers like invincibility, parang terbang, one is a were-tiger and another is an all around bad-ass. Meanwhile, Hang Nadim has this power - forensic science.

So a Portuguese envoy and his posse arrives at the palace and after spending one night, gets murdered. His posse said, "You give us the murderer in three days or we'll kick your ass and raze your kingdom to the ground."

It's up to Hang Nadim and his always-misunderstood forensic science to solve the murder mystery before the deadline is up.

3. Kampung Batu Sawar

It's 1941. The Japanese land in Malaya and conquers everything, except for one tiny village. This village is protected by seven bomohs. It's like Asterix and Obelix and Kung Fu Hustle.

4. Piramid

In an alternate reality, the Malaysian economy relies almost totally on multi-level marketing (MLMs) and pyramid schemes. At the center of this story is a guy - the greatest salesman ever. He designs MLMs and releases them for his company.

At the verge of doing the biggest MLM scheme in history, he gets a message saying his father just died. He goes home and discovers his village is destroyed by MLMs. The Tok Imam was fielding calls to his downline while reading the tahlil and nobody works - they just try to sell shit to each other.

The guy has a hot neighbour who maintains the only grocery shop left in the village. Together, they try to deprogram the country from the evils of MLM.

5. The Lions

A guy is a loser. He talks to his friends - who are all losers - and they believe their loserness comes from losing a rugby match 20 years ago in high school. The team that beat them became the most successful people in Malaysia.

Now 37 years old, they hear that there is a 20-year anniversary rematch being staged between the schools. The guy believes this is their one chance to reclaim some of their past glory and rectify their loser status by finally winning this game.

But the other team has been practicing for 20 years, keeping their network and talent alive.

It's a normal underdog story with an artsy-fartsy ending.

6. Che Mat Rimau

This is like Pootie Tang - a commercial and critical failure.

Che Mat Rimau is an almost-mythical figure like Paul Bunyan or Pecos Bill or John Henry Irons or some shit. He's like all the heroes played by Vijayakanth, like Narasimha. Larger than life, a true Malay hero.

When he does teh tarik, it's got some foam art on top and he could out-produce an automated factory with his bare hands.

This is an attempt at creating a modern Malay folk hero but, like in Tamil movies.

So yeah, these are the stories I've kept with me all this while. These are fun as ideas, but each one is a bitch to write or produce.

I was just in a funk just now and needed to write something.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


Sambil aku bertempuiaran lari cari makan kat KL ni, aku terbaca le pulak artikel memember share: Benda Ni Dah Tak Lawak Dah

Aku dah lama menunggu khabar berita atau deklarasi scholars pasal kemusnahan industri filem Malaysia. Aku nak interview orang pasal benda ni untuk suratkhabar aku pun, diorang malas dan letih dah nak cakap apa.

Bagi aku, kita boleh cakap kitaran kemusnahan filem Malaysia terjadi bila kita ada lima hingga 25 filem sahaja setahun. Dulu, 1985, aku rasa ada lima je filem yang dibuat. Sekarang, 20 30 tahun lepas tu, kasi can letak 25 la.

Dulu aku ingat, kalau dah musnah, masa untuk rebuild. Aku akan masuk balik dan buat apa yang patut. Tapi last year aku sakit dan aku fikir, aku nak buat apa yang aku suka aje.

Apa yang aku suka ialah terbitkan komik, tulis komik, design permainan kad, main kad, jual kad dan ajar orang main kad. Kat mana aku nak sumbatkan filem? Aku ni penting atau berkesan sangat ke nak menyumbang kepada kitaran lahir semula industri filem?

Entah. Tapi korang tengok le industri filem ni - masa-masa yang amat menarik untuk dikupas. Aku pedulittaik, tapi lebih ramai orang yang lebih terpelajar dijamin akan membuat analisa dan masanya akan tiba untuk membaca fikiran mereka, kemudian tepuk ramai-ramai.