3 Best Movies to Watch From Malaysia

Staff & contributors

There is a lot to admire about this revenge film from director Mouly Surya—the breathtaking shots of rural Indonesia, the grisly practicality of the titular Marlina, the relevant observations on gender politics, and the simple yet stylistic way all of this is revealed. Fans of Westerns and Spaghetti Westerns are also treated with an Eastern reimagining of tropes as the film exchanges long guns for Kabeala knives and sprawling deserts for tropical hills.

Packed with so many delights, Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts is a near-impossible miss. But if you somehow find none of this gripping, you can always rely on the sure thrill of seeing scorned women bloodily and rightfully avenge themselves. 

Genre: Drama, Thriller, Western

Actor: Anggun Priambodo, Ayez Kassar, Dea Panendra, Egi Fedly, Egy Fedly, Haydar Salishz, Indra Birowo, Marsha Timothy, Norman R. Akyuwen, Ozzol Ramdan, Rita Matu Mona, Ruly Lubis, Safira Ahmad, Sapto Soetardjo, Tumpal Tampubolon, Yayu A.W. Unru, Yayu Unru, Yoga Pratama

Director: Mouly Surya

Rating: Unrated

After Black Hawk Down (2001), the casual moviegoer would have thought that the rescue operation was only conducted by American soldiers. In reality, it was a multinational effort, and Malaysia’s side of the story has finally been depicted in MALBATT: Misi Bakara. Surprisingly, it doesn’t play out as a straightforward, action-packed rescue mission– writer-director Adrian Teh does deliver the action, but the film also contemplates about the team itself: how they made sense of their opposition towards a country they shared religions with, and how they experienced the ignorance from American soldiers that didn’t even know where Malaysia was. While some introductory sequences falter, and the film fumbles certain green screen moments, MALBATT: Misi Bakara brings both the spectacle and the drama that makes it stand out from other depictions of the rescue mission.

Genre: Action, Drama, History, War

Actor: Bront Palarae, Dini Schatzmann, Fauzi Nawawi, Gambit Saifullah, Hairul Azreen, Iedil Putra, Musa Aden, Paul Biddiss, Shaheizy Sam, Syazwan Zulkifly, Tony Eusoff, Zahiril Adzim

Director: Adrian Teh

With an ensemble cast featuring a young Natalie Portman and a less murderous Uma Thurman, Ted Demme's "Beautiful Girls" recreates the worries and woes that thrive in the minds of a tight knit group of working class friends stuck in their own small town Massachusetts world. Warm, quirky and filled with champagne diamonds, both metaphorical and tangible, for anybody who's ever walked the thirty something walk, it's a film that'll make you want to remember all the friends you wish you still had and actually still do.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Actor: Adam LeFevre, Annabeth Gish, Anne Bobby, David Arquette, Frank Anello, John Carroll Lynch, John Scurti, Lauren Holly, Martha Plimpton, Matt Dillon, Max Perlich, Michael Rapaport, Mira Sorvino, Natalie Portman, Noah Emmerich, Oliver Osterberg, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Rachel Oliva, Richard Bright, Rosie O'Donnell, Sam Robards, Timothy Hutton, Tom Gibis, Tomas Settell, Uma Thurman

Director: Ted Demme

Rating: R