Review: NASI LEMAK 2.0 (2011) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Friday, 14 October 2011

Review: NASI LEMAK 2.0 (2011)


RATING: 3.5/5

The name of Wee Meng Chee, or better known as Namewee, is no stranger to controversy. His so-called "insult" for rapping the national anthem Negaraku back in 2007 as well as criticizing TNB (Tenaga Nasional Berhad) in 2009, has made him a constant public sensation, both good and bad. When Namewee announced that he was going to make a "1Malaysia" movie on 17 March 2010, he is determined to seek funding from the government. But due to his controversial nature, his countless attempts including his vow to meet the Prime Minister, was wholly unsuccessful. Despite no support from the government, Namewee still managed to film the whole movie on a shoestring budget of less than RM1 million. The result is NASI LEMAK 2.0. At the beginning, I was dumbfounded when I first watched the trailer for this movie (It looks too silly to me). But then again, NASI LEMAK 2.0 went on becoming an instant hit when the movie hits local theaters on September 8. In just two weeks' time, the movie grossed an astonishing RM4.5 million at the local box-office and was widely praised by (many) critics and moviegoers. However it's a terrible shame that the movie was forced to halt from showing at local cinemas last week, due to controversy and prejudice over Namewee. As I managed to get my chance of finally watching this highly-debatable movie, I was pleasantly surprised how Namewee has created his first feature-length movie. Before you can shout "amateurish" or "wannabe", let me assure you that NASI LEMAK 2.0 is one of the best local movies I've ever seen in recent years.

Namewee plays Huang Da Xia, a chef who studied Chinese cooking in China and he is particularly good in making fried rice. But back in Malaysia, he struggles to get his restaurant business going simply because he cannot adapt to the "localized" cooking his customers are looking for. Despite that, he is well-known as "Hero Huang" in his local neighborhood, as he often helps his fellow community to solve many problems. Then along came Xiao K (singer Karen Kong), who is desperately seeking for his help to save her father, an owner of a famous Chinese restaurant, against her evil aunt for the ownership of the restaurant. In order to regain back the ownership, a rice-cooking contest will be held in two months' time to determine which among the chef cook the best Chinese dish. Huang's nemesis turns out to be Lan Qiao (Dennis Lau), a former No.1 student who used to study at the same cooking institute in China.

With Huang's restaurant being closed down for not paying the rent, he is certainly desperate to get back on track. And his only way is to help Xiao K, even though he doesn't really feel up to it. But it is not until he finally tastes a pack of nasi lemak given by one of his kind neighbors and he decided to learn how to make one himself. So he gradually seeks help from a mysterious nasi lemak seller Nor (Adibah Nor) on how to make a good nasi lemak. To master the particular culinary art, Nor hands him a map where he and Xiao K will have to embark on an extraordinary journey to meet three particular important people. Over the course of the journey, he learns the secret recipe of making sambal from Nyonya and Baba (Kenny & Chee), curry from Curry Master (David Arumugam), and anchovies from a fisherman (Afdlin Shauki) who have four wives.

From the overall look of the movie, NASI LEMAK 2.0 feels like a carbon copy of THE GOD OF COOKERY (1996) with a dash of KUNG FU HUSTLE (2004) in the mix. In fact I can almost say it's like as if Namewee is imitating Stephen Chow's brand of comedy hijinks. Like those typically nonsensical comedy you often find in Hong Kong movies, Namewee's direction is particularly over-the-top and schizophrenic in nature. Some scenes feels either too silly or oddly out of place, particularly those random musical montages and fantasy sequences where Namewee and Karen Kong dresses in ancient China wardrobes. Even some of the humors misses the mark.

But rest assured that NASI LEMAK 2.0 remains a hugely entertaining, yet well-meaning movie benefited from his unique way of storytelling. Beneath all those extravagant silliness, he has successfully addressed our country's social issues ranging from racial tension and unjust as well as refreshing political satire that it's rare to see a local movie like NASI LEMAK 2.0 dares to be honest, yet it's still funny to watch for. Apart from that, Namewee also made a hilarious mockery over scenes of "no electricity" he has previously criticized TNB via YouTube video back in 2009. But despite all the indirect sensitive issues all around, NASI LEMAK 2.0 is deep down a noble effort that is uniquely Malaysian.

The ensemble cast is excellent, with Namewee excels in a good comical performance while singer Karen Kong is quite a standout as a first-time actress. Cameo appearances by Adibah Noor, Kenny & Chee, David Arumugam, Afdlin Shauki, Pete Teo (who plays a English-speaking gangster) and Patrick Teoh (who plays the head judge of the food competition) all shared their own moments of limelight.

We certainly needs more good local movie like NASI LEMAK 2.0, and Namewee should be making more movie in the future. By the way, stick around to watch the entertaining music video of Namewee's and Karen Kong's pop duet of Rasa Sayang 2.0.

1 comment:

vb said...

ada Nasi Lemak 3.0?