Wednesday, March 6th, 2009
Korean Studies Auditorium 6:30 PM
Malaysia, 2012 (96 minutes)
Mandarin, Tamil, Malay w/ English subtitles
Director: Namewee (Wee Meng Chee)
Screenplay: Namewee, Fred Chong Kyan Vui
Cast: Namewee, Tee Jing Chen, Farid Kamil, Diana Danielle, David Arumugam
Hantu Gangster, starring and directed by Namewee (Wee Meng Chee), is an allegory of Malaysian politics and society, a morality tale wrapped in comedy.
Namewee, plays Te Sai, a deadbeat criminal and single dad, whose name broadly translates as “pig poop.” His excremental attempts at financing fatherhood via a life of crime earn him charming recriminations from his eponymous son, Chee Meng (Tee Jing Chen)
The film presents an alliance of the familiar trio of Indian, Malay, and Chinese gangs. After defeating Japanese aggressors together, three patriarchs formed the gangs to protect their respective people. By the time we arrive on the story this order is falling apart. The younger generation has lost their way, becoming common thugs and drug dealers rather than, well, uncommon thugs.
The founders are killed and their ghosts recruit Te Sai to help foil their killer and bring harmony to the race gangs. The villain of the piece is a fellow who spouts familiar propaganda phrases such as “terbilang dan gemilang” (fair and unmatched), “rakyat didahulukan” (people first), and, in a moment of utter desperation, “Wawasan 2020” (Vision 2020). It’s interesting to speculate how the film may have navigated the restrictions of censorship from the nanny state.
Hantu Gangster is really a critique of political decline in Malaysia. Comedy is a vehicle for this admittedly serious message that speaks to a conflict between the one per cent who are monopolizing wealth and power versus ordinary Malaysians who are struggling to make a living.
The conflict is about stability versus change, one style of governance versus the other. The problem in Malaysia of course is that we have never had a democratic transition in national government.
The social violence – gangster politics – we have experienced throughout our brief history are those tied to moments where our only national government has felt its grip on power threatened. Can we really say that we have a fully functioning democracy until we’ve seen both factions gain and lose national government in a peaceful, orderly, and dignified manner?
Until that day comes, go see this film. Enjoy it if you can, but take its mythology with some salt, kicap, or asam boi. As a supporter of Malaysian film, I say: GO SEE, LAH!
-Yin Shao Loong
Please support the filmmaker by purchasing their film!
Distributor: YesAsia – http://goo.gl/bqdUW