It’s Merdeka Day! Not quite sure how to celebrate? Consider a binge-watching marathon of some of our homegrown talents’ top films to get your dose of Malaysia. From critically-acclaimed thrillers and action movies to award-winning dramas and laugh-out-loud comedies, Netflix has spotlighted our local filmmakers and talents through their Rekaan Rakyat Collection.
Honestly, these titles are a great watch even when it’s not Merdeka or Malaysia Day, so bookmark them anyway. Here are our top picks on where to start.
1. The Assistant
The highly-anticipated action thriller by popular Malaysian filmmaker Adrian Teh comes to Netflix after its premiere earlier this year. The movie follows the story of an innocent ex-convict who loses his family during incarceration. After his release, he embarks on a violent journey and seeks revenge with the help of an unhinged assistant.
Making waves at home and abroad, The Assistant premiered at the 24th Udine Far East Film Festival (FEFF) in Italy, where it was met with critical acclaim. Director Adrian Teh expressed his gratitude and happiness at the raving reception of the film.
“They really appreciated the film over there. After the screening of the film, the audience got up and gave it a standing ovation. The applause and feedback from them over there moved us and made us feel proud and appreciated”
2. Ceroboh (The Screaming Sky)
A Malay language movie directed by Feisal Azizuddin, this film received the green light to be made after screenwriter Chong Keng Fatt won a screenwriting competition, which was organized by the film’s production company, Kuman Pictures.
The award-winning thriller tells the story of a post-apocalyptic world overrun by mind-controlling aliens called the Sky Beasts. Six survivors make every effort to stay alive while attempting to overcome discontent among themselves.
On the verge of divorce from his wife and on the brink of losing custody of his daughter, a desperate father signs up for a deadly underground fighting game that forces him to confront his violent past.
Premiering on Netflix on 31st August, Kill-Fist stars actors Sunny Pang, Alan Yun, Koe Yeet, Pearlly Chua, and Mike Chuah. The film director, James Lee, is one of the pioneers of the Malaysian Digital Film movement. His films have won awards in film festivals in Bangkok, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Singapore.
4. Prebet Sapu (Hail, Driver!)
Shot in black and white, Prebet Sapu was Malaysia’s poignant and poetic international feature film entrant for the 94th Academy Awards this year. Gritty with multiracial realism, the film is a tale about an illegal taxi driver struggling to make a living as he forms an unexpected bond with a disillusioned sex worker.
Rich in commentary on class distinctions and cultural divides, Prebet Sapu does a stellar job in featuring and portraying a largely diverse range of cast and characters.
When a strange little girl visits a vulnerable mother and her children, the forest comes alive with terrors and ill omens in this indie horror folk arthouse film directed by newcomer Emir Ezwan.
Roh won six awards at the 31st Malaysia Film Festival in 2021, including Best Film, making it the festival’s biggest winner. Making waves internationally, The New York Times gave the film a positive review, citing it “succeeds as a spine-tingling baffler, hitting at nerves we can’t quite articulate but feel all the same.”
6. Adiwiraku (My Superheroes)
Based on true stories stemming from sentiments many Malaysians relate to, Adiwiraku is a heart-touching depiction of what many dedicated teachers strive to achieve for the betterment of their students.
Assigned to a rural school in Kedah for her teaching post, English teacher Cheryl Ann Fernando helps her students overcome personal hardships while training them to win a choral speaking competition. In 2015, news of a rural school beating all odds and doing exceptionally well in a district-level English Choral Speaking competition inspired directors Jason Chong and Eric Ong to make this movie.
7. Kongsi Raya
In a match made in heaven, rising chef Jack and TV show producer Sharifah fall in love. But then their feuding fathers disagree and challenge each other to a cook-off.
Featuring a stellar cast of Harith Iskander, Wilson Lee, Qasrina Karim, Erra Fazira, Chew Kin Wah, and Ong Ai Leng, this is a heart-warming movie with slapstick humour and will keep you giggling in your seat.
8. Mencari Rahmat (Finding Rahmat)
Razak is falling for Rose, and Azman has his eyes on Ratna. Rose and Ratna both think they love a man named Rahmat. How they’ll sort it out is anyone’s guess!
The 2017 Malaysian adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, written and directed by Al Jafree Md Yusop, took ten years in the making, from script adaptation to final film fruition.
9. Sa Balik Baju
In these interconnected stories, six women brave the modern pressures of social media, work, and relationships in the online age. The comedy-drama explores social media’s seduction, destruction, and empowerment for these women, changing their lives for better or worse.
10. Showtime 1958
Back in 1958, legendary star P. Ramlee organized a variety show to raise funds for fellow performers who lost their jobs just before Eid. As a result, the well-known Selamat Hari Raya song that we know and love today materialized due to the fighting spirit and charm of the artists who constantly strive to put on the best show despite their hardships.
Directed by Anwardi Jalil, the son of famous film director Jamil Sulong, Showtime 1958 is a passionate tribute to the star’s late legacy and to all he has inspired.