Malaysian entertainer Nabil Ahmad has revealed that his multimillion action comedy film Unwonted is currently in the pre-production stage.
Nabil will be writing, acting and co-directing the movie with Helmi Yusof under his own production company Nabil Ahmad Productions. Unwonted has an estimated budget of RM5mil.
Nabil said he is hoping to raise the standards of local film and TV productions in the country. “The idea is to work like an international production. We’ll pay more for everyone involved to attend rehearsals, training, get character guides, etc. I think it’s about time we pay better to get the results we want,” the comedian-actor-writer-host said during an interview in Kuala Lumpur.
He hopes to shoot Unwonted in 2018. The story revolves around a loser who learns how to fight from YouTube and eventually rises to become a formidable fighter. It’s a story partly inspired by Nabil's own life and if all goes according to plan, it will also feature some exciting cameos. “I’ve approached Remy Ishak and Aaron Aziz to be in the movie. They will have to fight me.”
He also shared that Indonesian action star Iko Uwais is in talks to be a part of the production.
As of today, the most expensive Malaysian film is the KRU Studios-produced Vikingdom (2013). It was made for more than RM20mil!
Here are some other ambitious multimillion-ringgit local productions that are in the works.
1. Putera Makassar Mahkota Bugis
This historical epic about silat warriors was announced in 2016 with an estimated budget of RM20mil. At one point, Polis Evo director Ghaz Abu Bakar was attached to helm this project, which is said to star Shaheizy Sam, Adi Putra and Izara Aishah. In November last year, producer Asmadie Mokhadar of Taqloq Sdn Bhd announced that Ghaz has dropped out of the project. Syed Zul Tojo is now the new director.
Scheduled for release in 2018, Putera Makassar Mahkota Bugis is a joint production with Indonesian company Saga Filem.
2. Sandakan Tears
You may have heard about this multimillion ringgit project when director Afdlin Shauki shared that he wanted to rope in actor Hugh Jackman for a role.
With an estimated budget of RM67.2mil, Sandakan Tears is currently being developed as a historical film. It revolves around a Kadazan woman who helps the World War II prisoners of war in the North Borneo (Sabah) who were forced to march from Sandakan to Ranau.
In an interview, Afdlin said the ultimate goal is to make it an Oscar-worthy Malaysian production: “The film is going to be in English. Our main target is to get a nomination, regardless of which category, be it Best Sound, Best Picture.”
Afdlin hopes to start shooting at the end of this year.
3. Pasir Salak Pasir Berdarah
Mamat Khalid is set to direct this period piece based on the story of Malay warrior Datuk Maharaja Lela and his fight against British colonists in 1875. In a Berita Harian report, Mamat shared that this project is set to cost RM6mil.
“The script is complete and it will be told from three perspectives; Maharaja Lela, the British and the rakyat at that time. For everything else, it’s up to the audience’s interpretation,” he was quoted as saying.
He also named the likes of Datuk Rahim Razali, Bront Palarae and Datuk M. Nasir as some of the stars who have apparently been chosen to play important figures in the movie.
Pasir Salak Pasir Berdarah is set to start shooting later this year.
4. The Chini Saga
A Malaysian movie about a mythical dragon in Tasik Chini? Well, director Pveezi Zain hopes to make that happen with a RM20mil production.
In an interview with Sinar Harian last year, Pveezi said The Chini Saga will consist 90% dialogue in English and a large portion of the movie will be made with special effects. He also promised cameos from the likes of major international stars like Rajinikanth, Jackie Chan and Sonam Kapoor.
So far, no tentative release date has been set for this production.
5. Rise Of The Legend
The story of the country’s most celebrated badminton player Datuk Lee Chong Wei will unfold in this biopic directed by Teng Bee.
Based on Lee’s book Dare To Be A Champion, this project is set to cost between RM4.5mil and RM6mil. Producer Josiah Cheng told The Star that filming will take place in KL and Bukit Mertajam in Penang next month. The film is tentatively scheduled for release next year.