A film review: 'Sindiket' is an 80's/90's action film that was plunged into 2017!

[Originally posted for Movie Addict Malaysia

Origin: Malaysia, Indonesia · Language: Malay, Indonesian
Director & writer: Bade Hj. Azmi
Release: 6 April 2017 · Genres: Crime, action, drama

Casts: Sharnaaz Ahmad, Daphne Iking,
Liyana Jasmay, Sharifah Amani

Studio: Loyal Studios
Distributor: Empire Film Solutions
This is a SPOILER-FREE review, despite the fact that it's not my kind of movie.

So I saw Bade Hj. Azmi's name slapped on this project. Word on the street is he's a good filmmaker solely by reputation, as I never actually follow his works. Despite his more recent fare called Kanang Anak Langkau was released after this film chronologically,  he actually shot this film first. Other than Kanang and this abomination he called a "film", his other works that I've watched were called Gangster if I got it right and maybe parts of KL Menjerit and its prequel.

For the sake of this review, here's the premise of the film: Inspector Rudy (Sharnaaz Ahmad) was assigned to deal with a human trafficking syndicate, led by a thug named Galang (Rashidi Ishak), where his base of operations is at the Borneo-Indonesian border. It so just happens that two of the syndicate's victims are Malaysian ladies named Amira (Sharifah Amani) and Noreen (Liyana Jasmay). So, it's rescue time, I guess?

After I gave Sindiket a go, I went into a short, deep depression. I can't unsee it. Good God! Why did I torture myself? Why wasn't Sindiket released first? What have you done, Mr. Bade? Is this really your stance on such a serious issue? What happened here? Got stuck with the nostalgia of Yusof Haslam's directing days or Miami Vice or something? It kinda had those sort of vibes, but the difference was this was shot around 2010-something with slightly modern and better gears. It's like I'm in a time machine and traveled to that era, but the damn thing broke and I can't return to the present. What the flip, dude?

Yup. Heard that right. Human trafficking syndicate. It's indeed a serious issue. However, the way Sindiket handled such issue was just downright hilarious, as it dared to be preachy by inserting other social issues as subplots that didn't even contribute to the film's main storyline. Really? You're expecting a sequel or something? What are you trying to do? A Sindiket Cinematic Universe? Get off your high horse, man. Hey, here's an effective film with a similar issue that also interwove different social pandemics. It's called Songlap and still is Songlap (if there are better ones, do inform me). It felt more important, as it directly focuses on ordinary folks who had no choice but to delve in that seedy world in the name of survival, not some incompetent super-cop whose work procedures were questionable. I don't really get how he got such case and the way he solved it. The briefing he got was very brief and from that tiny information, things suddenly spiraled out of control and this was used an an excuse to include action scenes in the film. 

The acting? I guess the ensemble did their best in adhering its ridiculous script. The decent one here was Sharnaaz Ahmad... during his talking scenes (I do however just don't get how quickly he bonded with the brother of an Indonesian girl who was also abducted by the syndicate). His action scenes though, particularly the melee combat ones? That's a whole different story. The A-lister here? Soo Wincci as Jane, the assistant of a pimp named Jack who is portrayed by Tony Eusoff (who is also a try-hard here). Soo Wincci's character may not appear that often, but she had more depth than everyone else in this film that was not discovered properly. This is a pale comparison to the focus of Sindiket, namely Noreen and Amira. They're nothing more than just a couple of gullible university students, although Sharifah Amani did try to make her character more compelling. As for the out-of-thin-air appearance by Ebi Kornelis, a former Akademi Fantasia student, it was too epic for his own good and was basically a glorified cameo. Seriously, it was TOO EPIC.

Now, let's get into its technical blunders. Just like in Kanang, Bade (or whoever it was that supervised his crew) don't give a rat's ass about colour correction; it made me dizzy just looking at its visuals. To add insult to injury, even continuation between SHOTS (yes, NOT SCENES) made no sense! This was especially apparent during a 'fight' and 'chase' sequence between Galang and Inspector Rudy. It quickly harks me back to Black Dynamite (2009), a film that pokes fun on Blaxploitation films of old (it's a genre that exploits the African-American socio-culture and were mostly lead by, of course, African-Americans) by deliberately not paying attention to seamlessness during fight scenes, where it was clearly a stuntman that did the fighting; the same thing was what I saw in this film and it was painfully obvious! And I thought Sharnaaz could strike blows just fine in the first Juvana film! Here' s another one; in one scene at the docks, the sky was clearly about to turn dark, but in the next shot, it IMMEDIATELY turned dark! However, you gotta hand it to the camerawork for actually standing still and only move if needed. It's a vast improvement from Kanang, though I'm still concerned about the camera crews who seemed too excited to use drones and its editor for incorporating fast-cuts of varying shots with different angles for just a ONE minute scene.

At last but not least, on the music score side, I had no idea why they thought the music was cool. Maybe it's acceptable if this film was made in the 1980s or early 1990s, but it felt severely dated when it is used now. Damn thing hurt my head! But it did make me laugh like an asshole for the fact that this music was still made in 2017.

Here's my verdict. It would be dandy of the film was actually marketed as a tribute of the cheesy 1980s and early 1990s flicks; I'll have absolutely no problem with that. But unfortunately, this film took itself way too seriously. Hey, at least the previous police-themed J-Revolusi knew how to loosen up a bit, despite its self-seriousness. When I watched this, I truly did feel like I time-travelled to my childhood days, at a time when cheesy actioners were left and right; but instead of feeling entertained, I dread instead.


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Anonymous said...

Yeah you commenting so much but you yourself are just a kind of person like the director. Get a life man