In terms of seeing another international film industry find an audience outside of the country of origin, Silat Warrior is a minor success. Within the martial arts genre, we have seen this happen quite often in the past decade, most likely thanks to the success and international attention The Raid franchise brought to the Indonesian film industry. After Indonesia, we saw the first Vietnamese film distributed to the United States in Furie, so it should come as little surprise to find many familiar elements in the Malaysian martial arts movie Silat Warror: Deed of Death. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t quite have the same impact as those that came before, and we may have to wait to see Malaysian cinema truly take off in international markets.
The film follows a family of martial artists who have learned everything they know from the patriarch, Pak Nayan (Namron). While Ali (Khoharullah Majid) and Fatimah (Feiyna Tajudin) are responsible, their younger brother Mat Arip (Fad Anuar) has gambled away the deed to the family land. With an old rival of Pak Nayan determined to win the land, Mat Arip is unable to find a way out of his debt. It is up to his family to help him, and they are forced to resort to violence when pushed by the local criminals.
If the premise of the film sounds simple, that does not mean that it is brief in the set-up. Only the final 30-minutes are action packed, while a large portion of the run-time is reserved for setting up the melodrama of this situation. Far too much time is set aside for such as simple set-up, and it weighs the movie down before anything exciting happens. And even when there is action, not much feels at stake. Ironically, in all of the time setting up the film, none of the material is affective enough to create much interest/sympathy for the characters. Even with this time spent, the characters aren’t developed or presented well enough to create much sympathy.
Part of the problem is the actors playing the characters. While they were cast for their actual martial arts abilities, this doesn’t do much for all of the scenes when they aren’t fighting. On the other hand, the fight scenes do have impact, at least in terms of choreography. The cinematography has some impact, though mostly just in the shots that have been imitated from those previously released martial arts films. Other times, it just looks amateurish. But the occasional poorly composed shot is not nearly as distracting as the sound design during these sequences. At times the sound blows out the levels, and then there is the exaggerated sound effects inserted to sell the impact of blows.
The Blu-ray release doesn’t come with any special features to speak of. The high definition disc is the only copy of the movie, and the only extras on the disc are trailers for upcoming releases.
Entertainment Value: 6.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 5/10
Historical Significance: 7/10
Special Features: 0/10