From its opening scene when the audience is dropped right in the middle of a rescue mission in the Gulf of Aden (Arabian Sea) where a Malaysian vessel has been hijacked by Somali pirates, Paskal The Movie doesn’t let up on the action.
There are fast-paced scenes throughout the film happening at sea, on an oil rig, in the streets of Kota Kinabalu as well as in the desert, all executed with a fine eye for detail.
During this first mission (there are three featured in the film), a scene set against the night sky where gun shots are fired from a helicopter at a boatload of pirates comes out beautifully and, thankfully, without the exaggerated sounds we often hear in local films.
This is probably because director Adrian Teh wants to keep things real in a movie that’s inspired by actual events revolving around the little known unit within the Royal Malaysian Navy known as Pasukan Khas Laut or Paskal.
This is a special operations force that takes on highly dangerous missions, not unlike United States’ Navy SEALs.
During interviews, Teh had said he got a lot of help from the Malaysian Navy in making the movie – sharing military operations and tactics that are not privy to the public – which would explain why Paskal features higher-calibre military manoeuvres.
The film revolves around seven Paskal men, who have undergone a brutal training regime, in order to become part of this navy’s elite team. At the top of this class is Lieutenant Commander Arman Anwar (Hairul Azreen). Under him are dedicated soldiers, each with his own unique personality and expertise, who are all willing to do whatever it takes to keep the country safe.
But somewhere along the line, Arman starts having doubts about his hazardous occupation especially after losing one of his best friends in the field. It doesn’t help that fellow Paskal mate Jeb (Ammar Alfian) is a bit of a rebel, making Arman’s job difficult.
Teh keeps the story simple, only as a plot device to showcase the missions. But he definitely deserves credit for shining the spotlight on Paskal, and at the same time upping the quality of local action movies.
Two of the missions – both based on actual operations conducted by Paskal – are kept tight while the third one (which is fictitious) is more elaborate. All three feature more than a few fantastic camera angles, smooth action choreography and a filmmaking style that is equal to any American action film.
One hand-to-hand combat in a tight space, in particular, boasts outstanding camerawork.
It is also obvious the actors have put in great effort in ensuring their portrayals of Paskal men on a mission come off real.
Watching scenes of their characters moving in unison as a team, audiences could easily buy into them being highly-trained soldiers who have prepared for these types of missions.
While it shines action-wise, Paskal stumbles in terms of acting.
The stilted acting from a couple of actors and one over-the-top actor in the war room (you will know who when you see him) do make us wince.
Thankfully, these are few and far between. Also actors Namron, Eizlan Yusof, Hafizul Kamal and Taufiq Hanafi do elevate whatever few dialogue-heavy scenes there are.
Likewise, the two main actors – Hairul Azreen and Ammar Alfian – bring a sense of intensity when they are in full action mode.
One thing that is apparent while watching this film is how important soldiers are to the nation and yet most of us don’t even think about them as we carry on with our daily lives.
So, Paskal makes for an impressive action film while paying tribute to our armed forces.
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Paskal The Movie
Director: Adrian Teh
Cast: Hairul Azreen, Ammar Alfian, Namron, Eizlan Yusof, Henley Hii, Taufiq Hanafi, Gambit Saifullah, Theebaan G, Hafizul Kamal, Jasmine Suraya Chin, Amerul Affendi, Tiger Chen Hu