I don’t review or even get to view too many films from Malaysia, but I was so amazed with the cinematography and quality of the movie. Malay Chronicles: Bloodlines tells the tale of the journey of Merong Mahawangsa escorting a Roman prince to wed a beautiful Chinese princess during the 2nd century. It is set against the backdrop of ancient Malay, Roman and Chinese civilizations. Interestingly enough, it was filmed 90 per cent on location, mostly in Terengganu. For those of you who love history and ancient language, the use of ‘Malay Purbakala’ or some might say a dead language show the efforts of the script writer.
Meanwhile in China, the Han Dynasty is firmly cemented as the ruling empire and is expanding into Central Asia… one hundred years before the period of the Three Kingdoms. As the Roman fleet did their repairs and traded in Goa, they asked Merong Mahawangsa to escort a Roman prince to Southeast Asia. For those of you who argue that the movie filled with history inaccuracies, please do your study. It is well known that ‘Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa’ is verbally told from generation to generation added with mystical elements which are not logical. 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. But, the story line of the movie says that Merong Mahawangsa is a young lad who is the decendent of Alexander the Great.
Once you’re able to digest all this information, the film plays out pretty well. The fighting was very intense and the movement is comparable to some Thailand martial art movie. But, out 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. This is a film that I would have loved to watch in cinemas and I urge everyone from the home country to go out and support this one. 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 harbor.
The documentary, which is also part of the film’s promotional initiatives, presents the viewpoints of various experts on such matters as Malaysian and Kedah history and the background of the book Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa. Scriptwriter Amir Hafizi reworked the screenplay 17 times, so there is a certain level of quality in this film that needs to be appreciated. All in all, I’ve got to say that the movie will not disappoint you even given the slump of CGI quality in the 2nd half. Guess that comes with the territory when you work with only 13 graphic designers and a limited budget. Will Merong Mahawangsa be able to rescue the Princess and re-unite her with her betrothed in a marriage that is set to bring together two great civilizations from the East and West? Well, of course, the film is predictable, but it is an enjoyable ride, most definitely.