I always believe in watching local movies and giving them as much support as possible – which is why I decided to watch 33km From KL last week even though there were many other movies out in the cinema.
The story revolves around murder, interracial love, and multiple personality disorder – all of which coincidentally takes place 33km from KL. Most of the story and acting didn’t quite work for me and there were some lip-sync errors, but director Umagandan Krishnan’s rendition of Sathiya saved the movie.
In my humble opinion, here are a few things that I think could have changed the movie:
1. If all the entire cast acted as good as director Umagandhan Krishnan
Honestly, Umagandhan single-handedly salvaged the movie. His acting was natural, his portrayal of Sathiya was funny, goofy, and entertaining. His delivery of lines was so good that it didn’t even feel scripted. My only question is why didn’t he make sure that the rest of the cast members lived up to his standard? Aside from THR’s Maran – who is probably used to being onscreen – the rest of the actors in leading roles displayed a sub-par performance. Their delivery of lines felt unnatural and made the movie a drag. Also, it was a bit disappointing that we didn’t get to see more of Maran, who could have probably done more in his inspector-cum-detective role.
2. The story could focus on one issue instead of three
Personally, I feel like Umagandhan was squeezing a bit too much into one movie. All three characters were very different with their own elaborate backstory, and that forced that director to opt for a ‘Touch N Go’ approach. Perhaps he could have focused on Benjamin and his struggle with multiple personality disorder. How did his wife handle all the previous times he switched back and forth between a loving husband and a psychopath? What triggers his personality switch? For example, in Anniyan, Ambi switches to Anniyan whenever someone broke the law. I would have loved to see more of that from Ben G. Who is his wife, aside from someone who works with his brother? What did she have to sacrifice in order to marry him? An ailing mother? A boyfriend?
3. Get a full-fledged Chinese girl to play Mei Ling
I have no problem with Anita Permata Sari being in the movie. No doubt she’s talented and beautiful, but I don’t think she should have been casted as Mei Ling. After doing some research, I have come to learn that she is Chindian, and that makes sense, because her features and accent all make her very much Indian. That is why I feel like she doesn’t quite fit the character of Mei Ling, who is supposed to be a full-fledged Chinese girl. In fact, at the beginning of the movie, even Sathiya joked and asked if she was an Indonesian girl.
I think it would have been more suitable if Mei Ling was played by a Chinese girl who looked and sounded Chinese too. After all, the story IS about interracial love, where Mei Ling eventually falls in love with Sathiya and their differences drive them apart.
I also feel like Mei Ling’s character went through an abrupt change in the end. All along, she was portrayed as a sweet and loving girl. However, towards the end, she suddenly turned into this girl who’d throw a fit if she didn’t get what she wanted. Perhaps there could have been a few other scenes to establish this other side of Mei Ling – one who is capable of destructing herself if she doesn’t get what she wants.
4. Maybe all three characters could have met or interacted at some point
The premise of the movie is that there are three people travelling with different motives and goals, but their lives are somewhat intertwined. However, aside from colliding into each other at the highway and being rushed into emergency, they had nothing else in common. Three of them do not meet at any point. Their paths did not cross, they don’t even know each other. The only common ground is that they were all running away from a certain location that was 33km from Kuala Lumpur. But then again, perhaps that was the point of the movie.
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