Capsule Review: Rise to Power: KL Gangster Underworld (2019)

Having seen the first season of KL Gangster Underworld last year and impressed with its better-than-expected storyline and solid acting performances, I’m actually looking forward to iflix’s sophomore follow-up, only to find out that we have to wait longer until 2020.

So, here we have Rise to Power: KL Gangster Underworld, a feature-length spinoff, focusing on Madam Wong’s (Dynas Mokhtar) earlier days prior to the events of the series’ first season.

The spinoff remains pretty much the same crew from the first season including returning director and screenwriter, Faisal Ishak and Nazri Vovinski (Annuar). Naturally, I was expecting the same storytelling quality but surprised with Nazri Vovinski’s halfhearted screenplay. Faisal Ishak and Syafiq Yusof’s muted and sometimes sluggish direction doesn’t help much either, with only sporadically glimpses of promising moments. Rise to Power: KL Gangster Underworld also fails to show any significant improvement in terms of action sequences, lacking sufficient visceral impact that plagued the first season as well.

The only saving grace is some of the cast from the first season, with both Dynas Mokhtar and Hasnul Rahmat delivering decent performances in their respective roles as Madam Wong and Zan. Beto Kusyairy’s Shah along with Zahiril Adzim’s Adi and Amerul Affendi’s Belut, all of which previously making such lasting impressions in the first season, are significantly reduced this time around. But even so, they manage to do their best in their otherwise limited roles. You can watch Rise to Power: KL Gangster Underworld for free right here.

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