4 Movies Like Mujib: The Making of a Nation (2023)

Staff & contributors

A portrait of an Alabama high school wrestling team springboards from a sports documentary into an encompassing exploration of the American working class and institutional racism. The film operates on both levels as it zooms in on the lives of four students and their friendly yet overbearing coach. From the opening moments, Coach Sribner makes it clear that the State Championship is about much more than sport. A failing and underfunded school system all but ensures that a sports scholarship is one of the few chances for these youth to have access to higher education and a path out of poverty. 

This is further exacerbated by the racial dynamics at play, as we watch these mostly Black youth experience casual racism as well as institutional harassment from the police. Even their well-meaning coach is not exempt, he at once can acknowledge his white privilege but is not above baselessly accusing one of the boys of stealing his sunglasses. Herbert’s up close and personal style is immersive and passionate and builds to an exciting sports film climax while maintaining a piercing awareness of the severe economic realities that hollow out any victory on the mat.

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Director: Suzannah Herbert

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

For better or for worse, we have no choice in the country we’re born in, the citizenship we first attain, and sometimes we’re forced to leave that country for our own safety. My Name is Loh Kiwan depicts a North Korean defector seeking refugee status in Belgium, but while the government deliberates, it’s a hard life he has to face, one that changes when he meets a fellow Korean who may not be an immigrant, but who’s just as lost as he is. While there are some subplots that falter halfway, My Name is Loh Kiwan still manages to stick the landing of being both a moving romance and an empathetic survival drama that highlights the struggles of refugees.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Choi Sung-eun, Heo Seon-haeng, Jo Han-chul, Kang Gil-woo, Kim Sung-ryung, Lee Il-hwa, Lee Sang-hee, Seo Hyun-woo, Song Joong-ki, Waël Sersoub

Director: Kim Hee-jin

Rating: R

In depictions of organized crime, we’re used to the stone-cold crime boss, and the conflicted, unwilling crime lord, but Miss Shampoo presents a new version of the gangster– one that’s fallen head over heels in love. The film plays out in hilarious ways, with the humor expected from writer-director Giddens Ko, and Daniel Hong and Vivian Sung are able to inject some heart into their performances with surprising chemistry. That being said, the film is clearly more interested in mocking organized crime, so the film feels more skewed towards Tai rather than Fen. It’s still really entertaining, though Miss Shampoo had so much more it could have shown, had it focused equally on Fen’s perspective.

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama, Romance

Actor: Bai Jing Yi, Bruce He, Chih-ju Lin, Chu Chung-heng, Duan Chun-hao, Duncan Lai, Honduras, Hong Yu Hong, Hsin-Ling Chung, Kai Ko, Ke-Li Miao, Kent Tsai, Mei-Man Jin, Teng-Hung Hsia, Tsai Chang-Hsien, Vivian Sung, Wei-min Ying

Director: Giddens Ko