Bunohan: Return to Murder (2011)

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The lives of three estranged brothers who return to their hometown intertwine in this thriller from director Dain Said.

Owing a major debt to Thai gangsters, kickboxer Adil is forced to flee and ends up in his hometown of Bunohan, a place he never wanted to go back to. The Thai gangsters, deciding to deal with Adil, send in top assassin Ilham to find Adil and kill him. However, upon his arrival, Ilham learns that Adil is his half-brother. He somehow blames Adil for the death of his mother and decides either way, to handle the manner.

Bakar, the eldest brother and a teacher, has also returned to Bunohan to take care of his father. However, he has an ulterior motive in terms of taking care of his father. A greedy and ruthless person, Bakar will use any means to convince his father to sell the family burial ground to a construction company, who plan to build some new commercial property. When his plan threatens to ruin the reputation of the family and the town of Bunohan, the lives of these three brothers may take a very tragic turn in the long run.

This film from writer and director Dain Said is an interesting look at three brothers, all of whom have dark sides and the consequences of said dark sides when they all return home. The performances of Faizal Hussein, Zahiril Adzim, and Pekin Ibrahim are the foundation for the film as the trio of brothers. Interesting enough, this core trio is introduced as villagers are watching the TV and will ask if they see the actors on the TV in the film’s opening scene.

The character of kickboxer Adil, played by Adzim, is perhaps the most affected in the film as the youngest brother. Forced to fight to pay off a debt, he is forced to flee and must contend with his elder brother’s greedy plan to take over the family land as well as his half-brother, who has been hired to kill him. As for Hussein’s Ilham, he is introduced in performing a hit to another target and when he finally confronts Adil, the dirty laundry comes out in that he blames Adil for killing his mother. By killing, it implies that Adil was perhaps the result of an affair perhaps and thus, Ilham’s mother’s heart was broken, thus killing her. However, that’s the least of their issues as Ibrahim’s Bakar intends to take over the family land to earn money and not caring about anyone but himself.

Adzim does well when it comes to kickboxing thanks to the choreography of Marzuki Ismail. Ismail doesn’t have to bring a flashy style of fighting and would rather use a more grounded style of in-ring fighting. The fights look quite nice with Adzim and opponents performing how one would expect to see in an actual Muay Thai fight. His fights help enhance his character while Hussein, when performing hits, looks quite lethal with the blade. The action is just a small but vital portion of this very dramatic and somewhat realistic looking tale of these three brothers, who all have a dark side and must face the consequences.

Bunohan: Return to Murder is a very dramatic and brings a realistic feel in the consequences three brothers face with their dark sides. The performances of the lead trio drive this film and it is clear why it came close to being nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.

Easternlight Films presents an Apparat & Convergence Entertainment production.  Director: Dain Said. Producer: Nandita Solomon. Writer: Dian Said. Cinematography: Jarin Pengpanitch. Editing: H.K. Panca.

Cast: Faizal Hussein, Zahiril Adzim, Pekin Ibrahim, Bront Palarae, Namron, Wan Hanafi Su, Hushairi Husain, Tengku Awang.

WFG RATING: B+

 

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