Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Silat Warriors: Deed of Death

It's always "all in the family" in martial arts movies. All the kids have skills and nemesis of the father inevitably becomes the nemesis of them all. In this case, Pak Nayan’s gambling-addicted black sheep son gives his old rival an opening to take the family farm, but the master-turned-gangster’s thugs are totally outclassed by their righteous command of Malay Silat in Areel Abu Bakar’s Silat Warriors: Deed of Death, which release today on DVD and BluRay.

Compulsive mess-up Mat Arip stole his father’s deed to serve as collateral for his gambling debt, but he lacks standing to sign the property over to shadowy Haji Daud. Of course, the loan shark sends his thugs to strong-arm Pak Nayan, but his responsible son Ali and hot-tempered daughter Fatima are having none of it.

Periodically, they make further attempts to intimidate Ali and Fatima, but they have more luck focusing on Mat Arip. His debt just keeps mounting, as they fix the street races and back-alley matches he participates in or wagers on. Yet, it is still tough to beat his skills in a halfway fair fight.

The martial arts in
Silat Warriors are impressive, but the screenplay is far less so. Basically, the film is a series of highly physical fight scenes strung together with some connective tissue designed to appeal to average Malaysian viewers through themes of faith and family. Hard work, devotion, and self-discipline definitely seem to produce better results in the long-run than corner-cutting, recklessness, and flashy big city living.

Regardless, Fad Anuar, Faiyna Tajudin, and Khoharullah Majid all show off some terrific Silat chops as Mat Arip, Fatima, and Ali, respectively. Arguably, Ali becomes lead hero of the film, because he is the one of fights his way through all the bad guys during the extended climax (unimaginatively set in an abandoned factory), but the other two get plenty of screen time—so much so, the film almost feels like an ensemble piece.

Veteran Malaysian thesp Namron adds grizzled dignity and quiet sincerity as Pak Nayan. All the villains display tremendous athleticism (almost the entire supporting cast was recruited straight from tournaments), but only Azlan Komeng stands out as the senior henchman, Kahar. We never really see Haji Daud, aside from a well-manicured hand holding a cigar, so maybe we can look forward to seeing a big-name star play him in a sequel.

In terms of plot and dialogue,
Silat Warriors makes Rumble in the Bronx look like it was written by Paddy Chayefsky, but the Malay Silat looks terrific on-screen. There are a lot of people getting slammed into walls and bulkheads, which really looks like it should hurt a lot. Recommended for fans Silat-influenced martial arts films (like Golden Cane Warrior), Silat Warriors: Deed of Death releases today (7/6) on DVD and BluRay.