The Malay Chronicles: Bloodlines (2011)

18% – Critics
18% – Audience

The Malay Chronicles: Bloodlines Storyline

The film opens with a mysterious man writing about their history so that they would be remembered always and they would not forgotten the history of the early hero’s. In the year 120 AD, the powerful Roman Empire, under the reign of Hadrian, had expanded its rule to the Central Asian countries. During their time of expanding, the great Roman Empire agreed to create an alliance with the Han Dynasty by marrying their two prince and princess, thus uniting the two powers of east and west. The Roman prince Marcus Carprenius (Gavin Stenhouse) did not agree with the decision instead he would like to be free and not controlled. The Han’s Dynasty princess, Meng Li Hua (Jing Lusi) also wanted to be free instead being trapped by loyal treatment.The Roman fleet sailed off from the coast of Arabia to the mysterious peninsula dividing the two great kingdoms. The Roman fleet were attacked by a strong storm and caused the Roman to lose half of their fleet. They instead went to the coast of Goa. They are greeted by a local Goan dealer (Mano Maniam) and later introduced Merong Mahawangsa (Stephen Rahman-Hughes), said to be the desendent of the Alexander the great. Merong is preparing a duel against Sunder (Ravi Sunderlingam), The Goan Warrior after Merong having a secret relationship with the prince wife, Yasodhar (Deborah Henry). Merong easily defeats Sunder and Marcus is impressed by Merong’s fighting skill. After an agreement between Merong and Marcus, Merong agreed to escort Marcus to the peninsula while Lycius (Eric Karl Henrik Norman), the Roman fleet admiral returns to Rome and returned with a brand new fleet. In exchange Merong will have a large ship enough to explore the known world.Merong escorted Marcus to the peninsula and is greeted by the Chinese Admiral Liu Yun (Craig Robert Fong). Merong tell’s Marcus and Liu Yun that this peninsula was where he grew up and the peninsula is own by several tribes. The night before the marriage, Meng Li Hua and her close personal friend, Ying Ying (Nell Ng) agreed to run away and begins a new life in the peninsula. But Marcus followed Meng and they met and became closer after a brief talk near a river. In the mornings, The Chinese and the Romans are attacked by the pirate nation, Garuda. The Garuda leader, Taji (Wan Hanafi Su) uses black magic and sorcery before they attacked to weaken their enemy’s. Meng and Ying Ying is kidnapped by Kamawas (Khir Rahman). Marcus tried to stopped Kamawas but is stabbed and falls into the sea. Heavily outnumbered, The Chinese and the Romans are easily defeated and Merong, enraged by believing Marcus is dead kills most of the Geruda fighters but is heavily injured and he passed out.Merong woke up seeing he is getting treated by a tribe leader named Kesum (Rahim Razali). Kesum and Embok (Ummi Nazeera), one of the villagers nurses treat Merong until he is well enough to fight again. Merong learns that Kesum and Taji was students to a once great magician and a brave warrior. Taji wanted the great magician amulet of immortality. Taji killed the great magician during his sleep and led a small band of fighters to terrorize the villages and Taji also killed Merong Mother, Lang (Umie Aida). Embok was once raped by Kamawas during a raid and Merong swore revenge to Kamawas. Kesum told Merong of a prophecy that a great warrior will come and unites all the tribe into one and defeat the enemy. Kesum believes that Merong is the one. After hearing the prophecy, Merong became Kesum student and began uniting the tribes.In the island of Geruda, Meng and Ying Ying are held captives for ransoms by Taji and Kamawas. Meng and Ying Ying manages to steal Kamawas a piece of the amulet of immortality. After Merong manages to unite all the tribes, they became one kingdom knows as Langkasuka and began Civilization. Merong then suddenly is met by Liu Yen, Marcus (who was saved by Liu Yun and gets treated) and a small group of soldiers. Liu Yen told Merong that they have to save the princess before she gets killed. Merong is then given a ship full of mirrors by Liu Yun. As Merong prepares his fighters to invade the island of Garuda, Embok tells Merong that she loves him.Merong launches an attack toward Garuda in the mornings. But Geruda prepares their ships and outnumbered Merong fighters. Merong revealed that he uses the ship full with mirrors to create a similar weapon to Archimedes Heat Ray and uses it to burn all the Geruda ships and boats. But Taji uses sorcery to make storms and cover the sun with black sky, Making the weapon useless. After an heroic speech, Merong and his fighter attacks and land on the beaches. After a brief fight, Merong fighters manage to take control the beach but another wave of Garuda fighters led by Taji came in to destroy Merong fighters. Merong fighters fight to their death while Marcus confronts Kamawas, but Kamawas defeated Marcus easily. Before Kamawas could finish Marcus off, Liu Yen came in to stop Kamawas but is killed in the process. most of Merong fighters are killed. but shortly after, A large fleet made of the Romans and the Chinese, Led by Admiral Lycius came and attacks Garuda. Merong arrives to save Marcus and confronts Kamawas. After a brief duel, Kamawas is finally defeated. Merong tries to kill Taji but is stabbed. Merong made a sacrifice by taking the amulet off and pushing the sword forward, thus killing them both. Right after Merong dies, The Romans and the chinese attack and finish off the last of the Garuda and ending the battle.Some years after the great battle, it is revealed that the mysterious man is Sultan Mudzafar Shah (Hafizuddin Fadzil) writing about the history of Merong Mahawangsa in the Kedah Annals. Sultan Mudzafar Shah tells that Langkasuka is know a great and a proud Kingdom. The film ends with Merong pronounce a hero and the first king of Langkasuka.

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The Malay Chronicles: Bloodlines Movie Reviews

A Nutshell Review: Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa

Other than the horror and comedy films that get churned out on a regular basis by Malaysia’s mainstream film industry (who is going into 3D too by the way), KRU Studios showed that it had ambitious plans to make a big budgeted action spectacle that have some legs to travel the world, crafting a tale from centuries past loosely based on The Malay Chronicles involving a melting pot of Roman soldiers, Chinese warriors of the Han Dynasty, and natives of the land of Langkasuka in a joint battle against pirates of the maurading Geruda tribe. It’s noisy, it’s epic looking, and it features characters and a cast that would make the United Nations proud, speaking in English, Bahasa and Mandarin as well to highlight its multi-culturalism.

The story is told in simple terms, with a Roman Prince Marcus Carprenius (Gavin Stenhouse) set to wed the Chinese Princess Meng Li Hua (Jing Lusi) in a deal to seal two separate empires into an alliance. The wedding is to take place at the mid point between the east-west sea routes of the empires, which would be where modern day Peninsular Malaysia is but of course. However, the young royals fail to see the merits of any loveless, arranged marriage, before finally casting their eye on each other and discovering they share similar long term ideals. But the Geruda tribe is to gatecrash the wedding day with plans of their own for riches by capturing and holding the Princess hostage, and it’s up to our heroes to train, form an armada of brave men to take the enemy down within two moons, or risk having the Princess violated then killed.

While it’s a film that features an ensemble cast of heroic characters such as the Chinese Admiral Liu Yun (Craig Robert Fong) and the Roman Prince Marcus, the main protagonist is that of Merong Mahawangsa (Stephen Rahman-Hughes), whom you can picture as a Captain Jack Sparrow equivalent, minus the comedic banter and attitude, with stronger physique and better fighting skills to boot. A wandering soul himself, his amorous exploits in various lands allowed an opportunity to meet Prince Marcus and his entourage in Goa, where the Prince saves his life from the mob and having Merong promising to take him back to his homeland in Langkasuka where the wedding will be, being late meaning an insult shown to the Chinese emperor. And it becomes a prophecy (as always) fulfilled when Merong makes land, being the chosen one to unite and lead his people to battle against their joint enemy, falling in love in the process and with an added objective to restore the honours of loved ones.

This is an action adventure, so what mattered are the big fight sequences, filled with plenty of swords and sorcery, CG blood spewing all over the place, and what I thought to be admirable fight choreography to rival some of the best available out there, despite having some cringe- inducing acting from faceless extras who had to be various goons to fall in battle. The story doesn’t waste time in presenting Merong Mahawangsa as a battle-weary individual, and launches into huge beachfront assaults that got repeated again as the finale battle, albeit on a different side with slightly different players. One thing’s for sure though, that Malaysia has got the know how and capability to stage rather convincingly fights that combine choreography and CG (albeit some aspects of it requiring some polish), no longer having to play catch up with the more established film industries.

What I would have enjoyed a lot more would be stronger opponents, who possess some degree of sorcery to control the weather, though nothing else which blunted their supposedly mean and ruthless reputation of continuous victory. With bomohs and warlocks, it could have been more of a fantastical action flick with magical amulets, a mean looking kris and an Archimedes inspired device that looked a little bit puny due to a lack of budget. I do not have issues with the many languages used in the film since the country of origin of the film is multi-cultural, at least characters speak to each other in the same set of language rather than a mishmash of sorts, although you do have to stretch that believability a little in having almost all the characters in the film educated in more than one tongue for narrative convenience.

It may not be a classic, but it sure is quite a fun ride from the film industry of a neighbour that I’m recommending as worthy of your time during the weekend even. Now why couldn’t we make a film as fun, loud and brash as this one here?

A surprisingly good movie.

A Malaysian action film based on real history about Langkasuka, sounds great. It’s been a while now since the last Malaysian high budget movie (Puteri Gunung Ledang) came out, and to my surprise, this movie was executed really well.

The fighting was very intense and the movement is comparable to some Thailand martial art movie. There are also some funny moment between the Chinese Admiral, Marcus and Merong. Of everything the movie had to offer, the music is the best, as it was really good and did a lot to make the already intense scene much more impressive. The CGI in this movie is also very good, but for some reason had a huge quality drop in last part when depicting Sultan Mudzaffar Shah walking towards the harbour.

Also, the story was a bit rush. For example, they didn’t explain about the relationship between Embok and Merong, then all of the sudden, the narrator (the Sultan) came out and said that Embok was pregnant with Merong’s baby. IMHO, this should be make into a trilogy to explain the full story thoroughly.

And what is wrong with speaking proper English? Why is there so many broken English in this movie? You see, games like God of War depicted ancient Greece, but with characters speaking proper English, and I didn’t see any problem with it, so I really don’t understand why should the actor use broken English instead of proper English.

At last, I give this movie a 7 out of 10, because the production value was high and some of the scene is really good, but sadly it also has some serious flaw that made the movie incomplete.

Please can I see the Kindy movie?

Reviewer Raoul Hostettler thinks his local kindergarten could make a better movie that Clash of Empires and so I would like to please book a seat for the opening night. But then, if Hostettler’s local kindy is as good at making movies as he is at writing English, I fear that might be a wasted evening!

Yet again (if you’ve read some of my other reviews), we have illiterate people writing desultory reviews about low-budget movies as though they expected them to be block-busters. Yes, I have written a few pretty scathing reviews myself but you’ve got to admit, those were for the absolute pits of the film industry. This movie is NOT the pits! No way! That isn’t to say it’s a blockbuster either but come on people, how many blockbuster movies are released each year? How many does Leonard Maltin give five stars to? But how many does he watch? Get the point? (Probably not! It’s most likely too complicated for you!)

Let me ask you negative reviewers (and those readers who are contemplating watching Clash of Empires but check the reviews first), why do you watch movies? Is it to be entertained or is to avidly look for bloopers like trees not waving in the background? Is it to get all picky about English spoken with an accent? When it isn’t, by the way – as in the case of the narrator in this movie who speaks absolutely beautiful English with just the right timbre for the role – the whiners complain about THAT too! There seems to be no pleasing some folk!

OK, I’ve got my frustration at negative-thinkers off my chest – now to the movie. Firstly, it was made in Malaysia by a Malaysin production company so one would assume that the prime target audience was Malays. However, if it had been all made in the Malay language, the box office would probably never have covered costs (because it definitely wouldn’t have been cheap to make). So, very cleverly, the main language used was English which some of the Malaysian actors spoke with a slight accent. Nothing wrong with that (they weren’t wearing Saville Row suits!!) I though it a nicely integrated touch for Mandarin and Malay languages to be used with subtitles where appropriate as this preserved the international flavour of the film. The action was good and the CG was OK (if not brilliant). The princess’s handmaid added a little comedic interlude a few times and was well-played. Stephen Rahman Hughes as the lead was quite good (I’d like to know what the ladies thought of him). Pity there is no info about him on IMDb. I suspect that, if he ventured to Hollywood and had some good direction, he could become a big star.

I was entertained (which is why I watched the movie). I probably won’t watch it again (but then I can think of some much larger-budget movies I won’t watch again either!) So, if you’re one of those picky twits who loves to look for things to complain about, watch Clash Of Empires. You will be rewarded – but PLEASE don’t write a review because everyone else doesn’t want to know how clever you are! On the other hand, if you enjoy a bit of action entertainment for what it is, then watch it too – and write a review (preferably in coherent English) telling everyone what you enjoyed! Its definitely worth more than 3.7! I gave it 6.