The director of Malaysia’s highest-grossing film, Syamsul Yusof, has finally responded to criticisms towards his film Mat Kilau: Kebangkitan Pahlawan, which has received a new round of negative reviews after the movie started streaming on Netflix last week.
In an interview with a local news portal, the 38-year-old said he was the “happiest director in the world” to know that people were reacting both positively and negatively towards his film, which collected RM97 million (US$21.8 million) in ticket sales during its theatrical run after it premiered in cinemas on June 23.
He continued by saying that it was typical for a director to elicit such reactions, and he’s experienced that even with his films that were box office successes.
Syamsul said he is content and grateful that the movie is trending because of all the reviews, good and bad.
“Whether they are favourable or unfavourable remarks, we will still rejoice.”
Mat Kilau: Kebangkitan Pahlawan is inspired by Mat Kilau, a local historical figure from the late 19th century who fought against the British in Pahang before the country gained its independence. It stars Adi Putra, Beto Kusyairy, Fattah Amin, Johan Asri and Rahim Razali.
The critics say the movie shows a lack of fundamental filmmaking skills and a desperation to deliver a biased, ahistorical message while hiding behind the word “fictional”.
Many Twitter users complained that the film’s camerawork was terrible and that the script is overdramatic since most of its characters speak in formal Malay, leaving viewers to wonder if that was really how people spoke back then.
While the film states that it is a work of fiction, many were uncomfortable with the way it portrays non-Malays as the bad guys or boogeymen.
In the movie, Sikh guards act cruelly towards Malays and only loyal to their British counterparts, while a Chinese character plays the bad tauke (business owner) who is only interested in dealing with the British and has no problem forsaking the Malay people.
“There’s a reason why Mat Kilau was put on Netflix. Now many people know that this film is really bad.”
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