Bunohan Review

Movie: Bunohan
By: Orlok666
Date: May 22, 2012

A return to the roots

Dain Said returns to the silver screen with the epic "Bunohan". Don't be fooled: "Bonuhan" is often sold as a kickbox film but that's only just a part of the film. The core of the film consists of family, roots and intrigues.

A return to the roots

Three brothers return to the small village Bunohan (which means 'murder' in Malay) to help out their ailing father. Adil (Zahiril Adzim) is the kickboxer, who is after fleeing from a deathmatch being hunted by his hitman brother Ilham (Faizal Hussein). This brings them to the little town where there father resides. Also there is their brother Bakar (Pekin Ibrahim): a sly, calculating businessman who also returned to Bunohan to look after his father. Each of the brothers has an agenda of his own and their return is filled with murder, corruption, betrayal and puts the family bonds under pressure.


A return to murder

As written before, "Bunohan" isn't the typical fighting movie you might expect, but rather a dark drama where family, murder and history play a key role. The tension in the film lies in the unveiling of the bonds between the brothers and also of revealing their reasons. That said, the town Bunohan lives up to its name. In the chain of events triggered by the homecoming the small border town grows infested with gangsters. In order for people to get their way murder is committed and through betting on kickbox matches deals are made and fates are sealed. The plot also refers to the current events taking place in Malaysia where the modern world comes seeping through in an isolated village, putting traditional and religious aspects slowly on the side. Because all of these things are put into the film it makes the plot a little complex on the first take.


Home is where the broken heart is

This film is a lot about dynamics. On the surface level you have the three brothers who are all involved in the legacy of their father, a traditional shadow puppet master. The script clearly reveals a broken, modern family wherein each of the brothers tries to find his place. This is the film's strength and depends on the actors filling in their roles. Even while Said Dain used quite some first time actors, they all really do a splendid job in bringing their character to life. Next to that the actual environment also plays an important role; it is still a small town where traditions and religion still have a large part in the lives of the people. It is also a border town, which makes it an interesting hangout for criminals travelling between Malaysia and Thailand. Visually the film is stunning, showing Said's eye for environment and setting. Mostly the camera keeps his distance but in the fighting scenes Dain Said sucks you into the action with quick editing and camera movements with an ease you won't expect from a director without experience in action films.


Winner by points

The plot is quite complex and you might be overwhelmed at first by all of it and maybe the film does want to touch on too much subjects. It isn't a film that is easy to digest. But giving it a second view it even more shows how well the relationship between the brothers is written and portrayed. People who might be expecting an action-packed Asian film might feel disappointed but if you leave that aside you a compelling, broody family drama that touches on current events and social issues, infused with a fair bit of crime. "Bonuhan" isn't an immediate knockout but wins easily by points.

Check out our review with director: Dain Said







Dain Said






Zahiril Adzim, Faizal Hussein and Pekin Ibrahim