sumolah! great expectations

Sumolah movie poster

I had great expectations and hopes for this movie. Maybe it was the hyped-up marketing, as one CinemaOnline reviewer puts it, maybe because I’d enjoyed Afdlin Shauki’s previous movies and stage acts, maybe because for nationalism purposes I’d wanted it to be so good to sweep me off my heavy feet.

To call a spade a spade, I unfortunately left the cinema hall rather unimpressed, and I’ll tell you why.

Movie synopsis:

Ramlee ( Afdlin Shauki ), a down and out loser accepted a challenge to finish 20 plates of sushi within one minute. He lost the bet, and had to work in the Japanese restaurant ‘Boleh Sushi’ headed by Honda ( Patrick Teoh ) to pay off his debt. Soon he was friends with his colleagues, Haris ( Awie ) and Andy ( Radhi Khalid ), learnt values of hard work and even fall head over heels with Honda’s half-Malay, half-Japanese daughter, Siti ( Inthira Charoenpura ).

Soon Ramlee realised he had been tricked to be the 3rd member of Boleh Sushi’s sumo team, and had to take part in the Malaysian Sushi Association Amateur Sumo Wrestling Championship (MSAASWC). During training, he had an encounter with a member of a rival sumo team, Akira ( Gurmit Singh ) who was also Siti’s ex-flame. Will Ramlee be discouraged, or would he embrace the spirit of ‘nokotta‘ so pimped out in the movie?

The Good: Afdlin Shauki is an awesome comedian. His timing is always spot on, and he played to the stereotypical expectations of a fat person. I liked the introduction to sumo; not sure how accurate it is, but it was interesting to learn something new. The trip to Japan was lovely, but I suppose the credit goes to Japan for having all these bootiful sceneries. But overall I find the movie colourful.

Kartina Aziz as Ramlee’s long-suffering mother was aptly casted. The easy chemistry between Ramlee and Akira (even though they were rivals) was noticeable, maybe because Afdlin and Gurmit had worked before on other projects. I liked their sharp exchanges, had me LOL-ed at times.

Gavin Yap’s portrayal of a damn skinny but punk crazy sumo fighter was funny. I can’t make up my mind if he was maybe out of place, but he definitely provided comic relief. Maybe unintentionally? I don’t know, but the whole cinema LOL-ed at his antics.

The OK: Patrick Teoh’s portrayal as a Japanese dude who made Malaysia his home wasn’t as memorable as I’d hoped it would be, sometimes even frustrating. Reason = they had him speak English like a typical Chinaman, something I thought that could have been done without. I didn’t think it added value to the movie, him enunciating the way he did. Performance-wise, he delivered according to his given role.

Gurmit Singh was funny at times. But during certain scenes when he was acting smug or arrogant, I almost expected him to break out, “DONCH PRAY PRAY AR!!!!!!” I grew up watching this man on Channel/TCS 5 ok.

Everything else: if I didn’t put it in ‘The Good’ or ‘The Bad’, they all fall under ‘The OK’ category.

The Bad: I have a major, major grip with sound. Someone explained to me before how Afdlin directs/ acts in his movies, and does not record sound on-location. I think it is a serious overlook in any movie-making attempts, because IMHO sound is critical and crucial in the deliverance of a movie. I really, really dislike lip-syncing in movies, and throughout Sumolah! I couldn’t help but to wonder how much more I’d enjoyed the movie if it weren’t for the bad sound parts. Lip-syncing is bad. Lip-syncing is annoying. Lip-syncing is fake. Lip-syncing derives the audience of emotional connection with the characters. Nothing can replace sound/ dialogue recorded the same time the roles were acted out. It is just not the same.

Plus if sound was recorded real-time, they could have made do without the extra ‘er… err… heh.. hehh.. ermm..’ produced when they record it in the studio. Acting shy, uncertain and abashed need not be so painful to hear.

Props to Inthira for having to learn and memorise her lines in Malay at such short time, but I thought her character was quite redundant. She is pretty, she looks hot in a kimono, but I’d have preferred her to be given a stronger role. Not to say that being a morally righteous, culturally-aware, hardcore motivator is something to be dissed, but… that’s it? Also her performance was too subdued; perhaps due to her role, but I’d seen Nang-nak and she was brilliant. Erm, you make the connection lah :)

I also felt Sumolah! tried too hard to emphasise certain moral values, especially at the end of the film. Too much, beb, too much. It was also too long lah… 2 hours 20 minutes… as lengthy as Spiderman 3 but not as much ‘isi-isi penting’ because they were repeated over and over again.

I know that Celcom and Ogawa are the main sponsors of Sumolah! They were also heavily pimped throughout the movie, and at times it was just too much lor. Some parts were like pure advertisements for both Celcom and Ogawa — so much that when Haris was on video-call with his sweetie, I’d expected something like ‘Celcom 3G brings you closer to family and loved ones’. Blah.

I don’t even want to talk about Ogawa’s blatant, in-your-face product placement. Just a note to all advertisers: yes you poured in/ will continue to pour in money to the movie industries, local movies need more support, but please leave the creative control alone kthx.

Overall: Like I’d said, I’d expected better. I hope whatever I’d written will not discourage the people who worked so hard to bring Sumolah! to screen. I know Zona put a lot into the production, you can read their production diaries here. There’s always room for improvement, kan? :D

I was telling James about the movie, and he asked, “Cicak-man vs. Sumo-lah… who wins?”

In that case, Sumo-lah! wins the best movie of the year, y’all!

(Sumo-lah! is showing in Malaysian cinemas now. Go catch it if you want to, before it is too late, i.e. Pirates 3 coming out and the cinemas get overcrowded.)

things you learn from living with a baby

1. Boundaries

Ryan draws

Never let a baby armed with a pen draw anything on your bed, even if you’d supplied him with a writing pad with many many pages. Somehow the pen would find a way to leave its mark on your bed sheet.

2. Extravagance

Ryan in a car

Until they reach a certain age, do not insert coins into the kiddie ride. They seem happy enough to play in a non-moving kiddie ride. Once you put in RM1, they would try their best to scramble out and run away.

3. Overestimation

Ryan asleep

If you are going to take a toddler that weighs more than 10kg out for more than a couple of hours, it is more than advisable to bring the stroller. Unless you are Sazali Samad.

4. Life lessons

Ryan and beer

Start ‘em young.

5. Cultivate friendships

Ryan and FA-2

Make sure you get him to be friends with YOUR friends. That way, when you bring him out and need to concentrate on your dinner or go to the loo or whatever, your friends will be willing to look after him for a while.

Ryan and FA

Never hurt to have more friends :)

this is not a rant part 2

Last month, Don Imus, an American shock jock was fired by CBS and MSNBC. He had called members of a university’s women basketball team ‘nappy-headed hos‘, and it was the subsequent almost nationwide public outrage that got him the sack (I don’t think corporate America would give a shit if no one had protested).

The basketball team were hurt by his remarks, saying that it had “stolen a moment of pure grace” from the team. While I believe that no one but yourself can make you feel bad about yourself (and that no one else would believe the team members are really nappy-headed hos), the stream of righteousness that followed was interesting to see. Don’t quote me but I believe that there is a great divide between conservative and liberal Americans; while some people didn’t think it was worthy of several days of headlines, others were more than offended that Imus issued an apology (that didn’t help his case).

But that is America, where porn is a booming industry, where almost everyone knows their free speech and other constitutional rights, where the ruling government is (almost) changed every 4 years, where social welfare benefits more immigrants than their own poor people, where Bush used ‘God’ to help him in his WMD search (on our side, we have Mr. Vellu using God as an excuse for highway mishaps)… I guess MadHaiku would be better at this than me, i.e. summarising America.

What has it got to do with us? Nothing whatsoever. Because Members of Parliament who associate leaking roof tops due to poor workmanship and maintenance with the female menstrual cycles won’t apologise, won’t retract, won’t think what they said was highly inappropriate or wrong, let alone get fired. Not even with the nation fuming at their ‘unparliamentary’ words. Not even when there is video evidence to counter their claims of ‘misquotation’. And not even when one of the MPs in question has a standing history of saying downright stupid, offensive and various other ‘unparliamentary’ stuff.

This is not an issue about race. It is not even about political views and leanings. Maybe it is about how parliament sessions are conducted — just go search on YouTube and you can get a glimpse of how they behave and react; not just MPs from the ruling government but also the opposition.

All these MPs were (supposedly) elected by the people. I think the two offending MPs are not just insulting men, women and children, but also the constituencies they represent. If Datuk Shahrizat Abdul Jalil doesn’t fight on this issue, I don’t see the point of her remaining on the cabinet. But why do I have a sinking feeling that nothing would be done about this, and that life would go on and people will soon forget?

Everything should just go my way. At least I would provide free beer for all, and the world would be happy once more.

this is not a rant part 1

Sometimes I wonder why parliament sessions are still on-going. After all it’s not like they really try to discuss and solve problems plaguing the country. Even high school debates are far more civilised and thought-provoking than what happens during the parliament sessions.

Based on recent history, respective MPs will only get their butts moving after a directive by the Prime Minister. So why not let the PM be the sole dictator and say,

“You here, Works Minister, I don’t like the fact that potholes appear everywhere all the friggin’ time, do something by next Friday or else!”
“You again Works Minister, why are lucrative government contracts being given to contractors who use poor materials and even poorer workmanship that my ruling abode is bursting all over? Same deadline, or else!”
“Hey Education Minister, just because your dad was awesome doesn’t mean that you can bask in the memory of his name and contributions and do a piss poor job at what you are doing. Our education system is a joke. Do something about it NOW and stop waving that bloody keris in my face.”
“OMG TRANSPORT MINISTER WTF HAVE YOU BEEN DOING OMG!!!!!”
“You really thought the EOM was a brilliant idea, Tourism Minister? Why didn’t you use your judgment and stop me before I sign the dotted lines for work on it to commence? And not all bloggers are liars, you noob; this blogger Suanie is putting words in my mouth that I should utter before the country gets worse than it already is, and not expecting any monetary returns whatsoever. I should thank and honour her as it is.”

Unfortunately constructive criticism falls on deaf ears in this country. Mainstream media would never publish my thoughts as they are on their print or on-line material. The only consolation I get is that I do get to write these things on Monsterblog, fully well aware that the boys in power (i.e. Putrajaya) check it everyday (and wondering when we’d get slapped for the things we’d written and published there), or go running to Jeff Ooi, the daddy of self-righteousness. Or I could just go to the movies and watch Spiderman 3 and not give two flying fucks about what goes on in the country. After all despite my citizenship I’ve been often reminded to ‘tak suka, balik negeri Cina’ just because I was born a Chinese. So even though my grandparents, my extended family, my parents, my siblings and I were born in Malaysia, that was not enough to make us Malaysians. Not even when some of my family members went through WW2, decentralisation, May 13th, rise of 5 prime ministers and retirement of 4, 49 years of Merdeka, 1997 Asian stock market crisis etc with the rest of Malaya/ Malaysia. C’est la vie, eh? Sorry, itulah kehidupan.

Look, fine, I am whining maybe just a little. I am a whiny person; I whine when they make my Nescafe ais kurang manis as sweet as PDA, I whine when my laptop breaks down, I whine when stuck in a traffic jam, I basically whine when things don’t go my way. So before anyone goes accusing me of being an ungrateful tak sedar diri whiner, let me tell you this: I AM a whiner. That much I’d admit to. But ungrateful and tak sedar diri? Purlease, tengoklah cermin dahulu sebelum menuduh sebarangan. Bak kata pepatah, bila kita menuding satu jari pada orang, kita sebenarnya menuding empat jari pada diri kita sendiri. Word.

Bleh, this is getting a bit long. I’ll continue part 2 during lunch.

rum jungle fun and pix

I don’t know, I’m not just a clubbing/ party person anymore. When I first came to KL a few years ago, I used to go out with J&J and my sisters all the friggin’ time. At least 3 nights a week for more than a year? That was then, this is now. These days I’d rather stay at home and play RotMK (craps, now you all know what I do at home!). Even if we go drinking, I’d prefer some place cheap and not so noisy (i.e. Bar Ceylon).

Actually the present me reminds me of Jaime back then. She used to want to go to pubs and have a quiet beer while chatting with friends. I used to think that was the most boring thing to do. I mean, you are out! Let’s go clubbing, paint the town red hot chili red, give me the loud booming music DUM DUM DUM DUM DUM!

Nowadays I have better music in my storage. The last time I went to a clubbing joint was during Faieza‘s birthday where we met the cheapskate. Last week, AdrianPinoy sent out a mass e-mail asking us to go out, and for some reason I felt like going out, so on Saturday night we went to Rum Jungle.

I mean, the reason this is so bloggable is because I probably won’t go clubbing again for the next few months. Plus AdrianPinoy took some photos, and I want to update my blog :P

Rum Jungle on a Saturday night
This used to be enjoyable; now I get slightly claustrophobic

Back in the days, I used to like RJ because they always had awesome bands. Turns out they still do! The night we went, there was this really awesome African band; they sang all songs of all languages! Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Zainal Abidin’s Hijau (which sounds eerily similar to Bob Marley’s No Woman No Cry) and a Beyond tune. Awesome beyond words!

Adrian and Claire
AdrianPinoy and Clairebear posing with the band at work

We thought the keyboardist was the most awesome of all; he was a really good singer, and basically quite fun lah!

Suanie and Fireangel with a band member
So we camwhored with him lor

After the band were done, a couple of dancers went up an elevated platform and started to move their bodies and to feed people vodka shots. The chick in the photo below was rather hot (in the dark) and could really move.

Dancer feeding vodka
VK getting vodka-ed

But one thing I dislike about most general clubs, applicable to Beach and Thai clubs and Rum Jungle. After 12 or 1 a.m. they would start to spin really horrible and out-of-date trance tracks. Dudes, I can do a lot better on Winamp.

By the way, what happened to Bliss @ 12SI? What happened to 12SI in general?? Bliss used to be my favourite club because they played really good house numbers. You could also see Chef Wan in his tight red top and sunglasses moving his booty :P

Anyway, here’s half us lot…

Rum Jungle semi-group photo
And one for the camera…

My hair looked like a train wreck in that one. Whatever :P

Hah! This post is written like a kid from a small town with a computer and Internet connection let loose in the big city :P WHATEVER!!!!!!

congrats to dr vagus and kristin!

I’d wanted to blog about this for some time now, but never got around to it.

Well Monday is always a good day to start doing things. So here it is…

Dr Vagus, the awesome endocrinologist at Mayo Clinic proposed to his girlfriend Kristin, and she said yes!!!

He didn’t do it via his blog (of course), but he posted the sweetest entry on the proposal here.

Time and time again I wonder, WHY IS IT NOT ME?!?!??!? :( *cry*

Kristin's awesome ring

Sniff sniff :( :( Another good guy snapped up… sniff sniff… all your doctors are not belong to me after all :(

Oh well… there is supposed to be plenty of fish in the sea… that really isn’t much consolation but I’ll just have to cast my net another time… :P

Heh, congrats to you both :)

Congrats to Dr Vagus and Kristin!

Send me a plane ticket to wherever you will be holding the wedding, kthx.

something about the weekend

Mom and Dad came up for the weekend. The moment I walked into the house, mom was in a flurry to show me something. Tak jadi, but turned out that she was talking to dad about his handkerchiefs. He was using a rather tattered one and mom wanted to buy him some new hankies. He refused and said, “Suan bought me this one when she was in high school.”

I was so touched; didn’t know my dad was the rather sentimental sort. Took me back to the days when we were cracking our heads wondering what to get for dad for his birthday/ Father’s Day with our limited spending money. I remember getting him a few rounds of hankies, and when my sisters were older they started to buy him shirts and T-shirts (“must have pockets one, if not dad won’t wear it!”).

I love my folks.

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We had dinner at Magic Wok in Damansara Jaya. Brother-in-law bought one of the Chinese set dinner thing for Mothers’ Day. There were 8 of us, but the food presented could easily fit 12 – 14! You know the second course is always the soup, right? Normally at a Chinese wedding dinner, everyone would be served a bowl of soup, and there would be a little bit leftover for those who wants it. Well, our soup portion was so huge that it could easily fill 20 bowls.

The portions were just as huge for every other course. Doggy bagged most of it.

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Missed gym on Friday because either the alarm didn’t work or I switched it off. So I went on Saturday afternoon. The peps who work there were so enthusiastic to help me use the machines etc. After my 15 mins of treadmill, the chick asked me to join the body pump class, and to do 10 mins on the elliptical.

I lasted 1 minute on that thing and decided not to kill myself that day, and proceeded to do 15 minutes of cycling. Later at night, I was telling FA about how the elliptical nearly murdered me and she went, “BUT IT’S GOOD FOR YOU SUAN!!!!!!”

It brought me back to my childhood days when I protested over the cod liver oil and snake bile liquid and my dad went, “IT’S GOOD FOR YOU SHUT UP AND DRINK IT!!!”

Of course he didn’t say that. At most he glared at me and went ‘tsk’ but the effect was the same.

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Introducing Ryan, my nephew, the love of my mother’s life :)

Ryan