Friday, August 21, 2009


In my early days, I have made dramas that were influenced by foreign materials. For example, one of my first dramas was Jelita Ku. It was 'inspired' by the movie My Fair Lady and Pygmalion. It was not a blatant copy as I just took the spirit of the novel and the movie and made it my own.
A couple of years ago, in my TV series Bilik No 13, I wrote and directed a piece called Tengkorak Monyet. This was my nod to one of my favourite horror stories called The Monkey's Paw. This story has also been done by Aziz Othman years ago called Kaki Monyet.
In fact, local filmmakers have also adapted foreign pieces (mainly without attribution) to make their own movies. Hussin Haniff, one of the most original of Malay directors in the 60s, was 'guilty' of 'copying' Kurosawa's Throne of Blood. The movie was aptly titled Mahkota Berdarah which translates to Throne of Blood. Talk about being blatant.
Comedian and part-time taxi driver, Mr Os, was one of the most prolific 'copiers' writing and directing movies that were poor rip offs of movies like his self titled Mr Os which was basically a retelling of Richard Pryor's Brewster's Millions.
More recent examples? Pierre Andre's directorial debut 9 September was a Malaysianised version of Kwak Jae Yong's My Sassy Girl. Pierre's Jangan Tegur too felt as if it borrowed a lot of ideas from William Friedkin's The Exorcist. Ahmad Idham on the other does not plagiarise from other films, but he does borrow scenes from other movies. The film Jangan Pandang Belakang, directed by Ahmad Idham and written by Pierre, for example had one scene showing a ghost floating alongside the car at night. This scene was definitely borrowed from a very famous Thai horror movie which I won't mention.
I cannot knock these guys, because stealing or borrowing ideas seem to allow them to learn film technique. Hopefully, by doing so, they improve their filmmaking skills and maybe create their own original styles and content in the future.
Most recent example, is by none other than indie filmmaker Woo Ming Jin in his Astro commissioned movie entitled Seratus Harijadi. It is basically a 'remake' of Harold Ramis's Groundhog Day. I didn't check out the end credits, so I am not sure if Ming Jin attributed the movie to Groundhog Day, but nevertheless, this is one of the better 'copied' movies done locally. It was well casted, well written (or rather adapted) and directed.
I don't think Ming Jin will be the last director to 'copy' foreign movies. Many will still do it in hope that they can get away with it and maybe entertain viewers who may or may not be aware of the movie's true origins.


nik amir said...

i love the truth in your posts. It shows you have great wisdom especially when it comes to the Msian film industry. I am someone trying to start out in the industry and looking for a mentor. Is it possible for me to contact you somehow?

my contact is Please just drop a line if you have spare time. thanks so much!

nik amir

Mustafar A.R. said...

Sdr Anwardi,
Yang betul "Istana Berdarah" bukannya "Mahkota Berdarah".
Yang betul Maria Menado
bukannya Mariam Manado.

Nurul said...

I have been looking for the film Istana Berdarah for the past 3 years. Any idea where I can view it let alone buy it???