Saturday, 24 May 2014

'KL Gangster' franchise hits the mark again

Zizan Razak running away from danger in Abang Long Fadil.

Zizan Razak running away from danger in Abang Long Fadil.

Syafiq Yusof proves his mettle once more as the KL Gangster franchise spreads its wings to Stephen Chow-like comic heights.

IN 2012 the whole country was abuzz with the release of SAM, the debut film from director Syafiq Yusof, who was all of 18 at the time and was officially named Malaysia’s youngest feature film director in the Malaysia Book Of Records.

SAM did not exactly set the box office alight but it made many people sit up and take notice of Syafiq’s natural directing talents.

The son of Datuk Yusof Haslam and younger brother of Syamsul Yusof, who set box-office records with their films Sembilu II and KL Gangster respectively, Syafiq did not stop at just writing and directing the film.

He also handled the editing, sound design and even some of the CGI and visual effects himself.

From a debut that saw him venture into the difficult psychological thriller genre, observers thought he would follow it up with something just as adventurous. Imagine the surprise, then, when his second film turned out to be a spinoff from his brother’s successful KL Gangster franchise – the action spoof Abang Long Fadil.

Starring comedian Zizan Razak, continuing his role as the comic sidekick Fadil from the KL Gangster movies, the movie takes place after the events of KL Gangster 2 (which was technically a prequel to KL Gangster) and tells the story of Fadil’s life after his best friend Malik (Aaron Aziz) is sent to prison.

Director Syafiq Yusof (with camera) setting up a shot for the movie.
Director Syafiq Yusof (with camera) setting up a shot for the movie.

Wanting to quit the gang, he is told to conquer the unconquerable Kampung Berani and deliver it to lead gangster Shark (Syamsul Yusof) before he will be allowed to leave. Fans of Stephen Chow’s comic masterpiece Kung Fu Hustle will, of course, see a kind of resemblance between the kung fu masters of that movie’s Pigsty Alley and the silat warriors of Kampung Berani. A quick look at Abang Long Fadil’s brilliantly hilarious opening scene will confirm Syafiq’s debt to Chow’s brand of Looney Tunes-inspired comic lunacy.

Syafiq confirms that he did watch many Stephen Chow films for reference, but he also watched movies with Indian superstar Rajnikanth to get just the right mix of over-the-top action and comedy.

“It’s a privilege and also a big responsibility to be trusted with a franchise as big and successful as my brother Syamsul’s KL Gangster, especially when I’m taking it into a totally different genre altogether. So I hope I did Syamsul proud with this film,” Syafiq said after the premiere of the film earlier this week.

To this, Syamsul replied: “Every filmmaker has his own style of shooting and cutting, so of course I had a different Abang Long Fadil playing in my head when I first thought of how the film would turn out. But I love what Syafiq has come out with, especially how he turned it into something really comic.”

Even his dad was beaming with pride at the final result.

The journey was quite a tough one, though. Costing RM3.2 million and taking 53 days to shoot – a long time compared to the average Malaysian film’s 20- to 30-day shoot – the film also boasts plenty of CGI and visual effects to boost its many neatly choreographed fight scenes to even greater heights of humour.

With a keen interest in visual effects ever since his days of making short films, Syafiq has now taken it a step further by forming his own visual effects company, Viper Studios, which handles all the CGI in the film.

Effects aside, the big question is still whether or not the film is entertaining and funny. Syafiq is savvy enough to recognise this fact by explicitly stating that unlike SAM, this movie was not made to challenge the audience with anything heavy.

His intention was to entertain the audience with something light and funny. Judging from the film’s many inspired scenes of comic mayhem and the copious amounts of laughter heard throughout the premiere screening, it is indeed “mission accomplished” for the young filmmaker.

Tags / Keywords: Entertainment , Abang Long Fadil , KL GAngaster , Syafiq Yusof


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