While I wouldn’t label myself a big movie buff, keeping up with the latest releases seems to have become a habit I’ve cultivated. Whenever an interesting trailer gets my attention, I promptly add it to my watchlist app, ensuring I’ll always have a diverse selection for those spontaneous movie nights — whether that’s tomorrow or a few weeks from now.

I also have a soft spot for Malaysian stories – whether they unfold on pages or on the silver screen – favouring narratives that give an Asian perspective. Interestingly, the Malaysian-made films featured here seem to be generating considerable excitement, both within the local scene and on the global cinematic platform.


Image from TGV Cinemas.

Synopsis: As Zuhal grapples with the chaos enveloping his life, he seeks unconventional help through hypnosis to restore clarity. Things take a turn when the girl who once existed only in his dreams manifests as a tangible presence in his reality. In his quest to unravel her identity, he finds himself captivated by her and, in the process, discovers profound aspects of his own being.

Imaginur tells its story in a unique way, throwing in some interesting elements (like hypnosis), reminiscent of Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. Despite the comparison, what really hits is the film’s emotional journey of love, memories, and the struggle to hold onto them.

Where to watch: Currently streaming on Prime Video.

Tiger Stripes

Image from IMDb.

Synopsis: At the age of 12, Zaffan is the first among her friends to experience puberty, uncovering a daunting revelation about her body. Condemned by her community, Zaffan takes a stand, realising that true freedom comes from accepting the body she once feared.

Supernatural horror mixed with coming-of-age drama? Yes, please. Set in a school for Muslim girls, Tiger Stripes tackles adolescence in a conservative setting. The story does get tricky to follow at times, but it’s still worth checking out for the visuals and solid performances by the young cast.

Note: Director, Amanda Nell Eu has distanced herself from the version of the movie that made its way into cinemas locally, stating that the cut cinema-goers here got to see censored ‘the very joy of being a young girl in Malaysia’.

Where to watch: Will be streaming on Netflix from 15 February 2023.

Hungry Ghost Diner

Image from IMDb.

Synopsis: Compelled to seek refuge in her family’s long-standing coffee shop during an unforeseen COVID-19 lockdown, Bonnie, a food truck operator, is astonished to discover that it is haunted by the ghosts of her deceased relatives returning for the Hungry Ghost Festival.

You don’t need to be familiar with Chinese traditions for Hungry Ghost Diner‘s themes to hit home. First-time feature director, Cho We Jun manages to successfully capture relatable Malaysian struggles and turn them into a heart-warming family tale.

Where to watch: Currently streaming on Netflix.


Image from Kuman Pictures.

Synopsis: In a dystopian Malaysia where the mingling of different races is prohibited, a Chinese family moves to a new home only to discover a frightened Malay girl still in hiding. Faced with a dilemma, they must decide whether to remove her or attempt to covertly guide her back to safety.

PENDATANG is the first Malaysian movie to be 100-percent financed through crowd-funding. Though it has yet to be released as of the date of writing, early remarks from the preview screenings call the film a “well-paced, frightening glimpse into a Malaysia overcome by racial anger” and “is worth all the years of waiting”.

Where to watch: Currently streaming on Youtube.

Rain Town

Image from IMDb.

Synopsis: Set in Taiping, Perak, Rain Town revolves around the nuanced interplay between a father’s aspirations, his children’s dreams, and lingering trauma from the past. Choo, a traditional patriarch and lantern maker, diligently oversees his three adult children. When tragedy befalls them, the family faces emotional upheaval.

Set against the backdrop of rain-soaked Taiping, cultural boundaries take centre stage in this family drama by Tunku Mona Riza. The story is also inspired by the local tradition of rain-betting.

Where to watch: To be released in cinemas on 8 February 2024. Follow Current Pictures on Instagram for updates.


Image from IMDb.

Synopsis: KanNeera follows Mithran, a successful CEO, who forms a connection with his new employee, Neera. Complications arise when Mithran expresses interest in Neera and decides to end his current relationship. Neera grapples with conflicting feelings as her partner, Arun, urges her to settle abroad, causing friction in their relationship.

KanNeera seems to be making a lot of waves within the festival circuit, most notably for bagging 12 nominations at this year’s Indo-Singapore International Film Festival and eight at Uruvatti International Film Festival. Praise is also being given to Penang-based composer, Hari Maaran for overseeing the movie’s score.

Where to watch: Currently showing on-demand on AstroFirst.


Image from IMDb.

Synopsis: Set in the early 18th century within the Iban ethnic community in Sarawak, this epic tale revolves around four childhood friends – Anang, Lebor, Untai, and Siah. Despite their mischievous behaviour, the friends abide by the customs and culture of the Iban people until one of them witnesses his father being beheaded before him.

This one’s bound to pack a punch – Headhunter mixes romance, suspense, and friendship into an action-packed story about the Iban headhunting tradition in Borneo. Interesting fact: It took 11 years before Headhunter finally hit the screens. Despite delays, filmmaker Badd Badrul is excited about the positive response the film has received and even has plans for a sequel.

Where to watch: Currently streaming on Prime Video.


Image from IMDb.

Synopsis: Eraser unfolds the story of Ahmad, the son of Azman, a tombstone maker, who harbours dreams of helping his family ease their burdens. When Xiao Li, an abused girl, and her mother enter their lives, Ahmad’s family embraces them and offers shelter.

In what was the late Adibah Noor’s final role, Eraser is your expected feel-good Malaysian film that explores themes of harmony, loyalty, and humanity, and that’s not a bad thing at all. Using a Malaysian flag eraser as a metaphor for the nation’s slowly disappearing (‘erasing’) unity, the story emphasises the power of undivided love despite racial tensions and different religious beliefs.

Where to watch: Currently streaming on Prime Video.

Abang Adik

Image from IMDb.

Synopsis: Abang and Adi, both undocumented orphans in Malaysia, navigate a challenging existence. The older brother (Abang), who is deaf, has come to accept a life of poverty, while a burning sense of injustice fuels younger Adi. The delicate bond and equilibrium of the brothers’ relationship is disrupted by a startling act of violence.

Yet another Malaysian movie that’s making waves internationally! This Malaysian gem directed by Jin Ong aced the 25th Far East Film Festival, scooping up three big awards: the Golden Mulberry (audience’s choice), Black Dragon (critics’ pick), and the White Mulberry for best first feature. You won’t want to miss this one when it finally hits theatres.

Where to watch: Set to release in cinemas on 14 December 2023.

Stone Turtle

Image from IMDb.

Synopsis: Embark on a time-travelling journey with Zahara, a refugee living on an island on Peninsular Malaysia’s east coast, as she becomes entwined in a perilous dance of duplicity with a persistent outsider. This intriguing narrative offers a reimagined Southeast Asian folklore, trapping its characters in a relentless cycle of vengeance, lust, and violence from which there is no escape.

I have a soft spot for books and movies based on Malaysian folklore, and if you do too, this movie will be your cup of tea. Stone Turtle puts an eerie and tense spin on Lagenda Penyu Batu, and is also where the film gets its title from. The plot also cleverly touches on societal issues.

Where to watch: Currently streaming on Prime Video.

Fire on Water

Image from @mannin_mainthan.my

Synopsis: Karthi, a discontented assistant in commercial productions, endeavours to bring his sincere and personal film script to life. His project, however, lacks support from the industry. In the seemingly discouraging pursuit of his aspirations and heartbreak, he encounters a kindred soul who shares his sense of being adrift in the world.

Sun-J Perumal’s second feature film, following the critically acclaimed Jagat, will premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2024. The story explores financial hardship, limited creative freedom, and broader issues facing the nation and draws from Perumal’s own experiences in the film industry.

Where to watch: Following its Rotterdam premiere in January, Fire on Water will be theatrically released in Malaysia later in the year.

What Malaysian movies have you recently watched and loved? Share them with us in the comments!