Wira (2019)

Posted in Reviews by - August 16, 2020
Wira (2019)

This takes a while to get going, but once it does – around the halfway mark – it’s wall-to-wall action, and good stuff, too. Some of it feels gimmicky – a little under-cranked and cartoony in places with a few interesting camera choices – but Yayan Ruhian’s highly charged choreography is fluid and captured concisely, and helps to take Malaysian martial arts cinema to new levels. In something of a riff on The Big Boss, a retired commando, Hassan (Hairul Azreen), returns from military service to find his single dad and cage-fighting sister, Zain (Fify Azmi), indebted and harassed by their cigar-chomping boss, Raja (Dain Said). Raja runs the local condom factory (no, really) and has a stranglehold over his workers and the wider community, keeping them in substandard housing while enjoying a lucrative sideline as a fight promotor (which is left slightly vague) and a drug dealer, smuggling meth into the johnnies. Once Hassan and Zain put aside their sibling rivalry and decide to fight back against Raja, the film really kicks into gear. Despite her second billing, model-turned-actor Fify Azmi is not shortchanged in the action scenes and is a refreshing talent, getting really stuck in her debut role as part of a nice sibling double act with Azreen. Let’s hope we see more from her in the future. Hairul Azreen has a jawline as sharp as his pecs and doesn’t stray too far from the stoic persona he displayed in his previous film with director Adrian Teh, the military yarn PASKAL: The Movie (2018). We saw a brief slice of his knife abilities at the end of PASKAL, but it is this film where he really steps up as a convincing fighting lead, especially when he is being put through his paces by Ruhian in an extended, visceral finale. Yes, it’s a story you’ve seen a million times, but there is a convincing partnership at the heart of the film with action clearly performed by competent actors who know what they’re doing.


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Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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