Original Lifestyle

“Can’t Even Open A Bank Account”-Witness M’sians Without IC Struggle To Live In Pudu Through ‘Abang Adik’

A must-see movie.

Have you watched the recent hit movie ‘Abang Adik’? I genuinely think it’s an outstanding film, and you are missing out if you haven’t watched it!

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If you’re planning to go see it, don’t forget to bring tissues! There are moments in the movie that are so emotional, I can hear quiet sobs everywhere throughout the cinema. And of course, I also found myself tearing up in many scenes…

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Today, I’d like to talk about my thoughts on ‘Abang Adik.’ I’ll touch on some character developments, but don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything!

‘Abang Adik’ a lively Malaysian movie

Image via 如履的電影筆記

‘Abang Adik,’ was directed and written by Wang Li-Lin, starring Wu Kang-Ren and Chen Ze-Yao as the lead character.

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The film quickly became a huge hit after its release in Taiwan, earning nearly 15 million New Taiwan Dollars (around 2.22 million Malaysian Ringgit) in just its first three days. This shows how warmly it was received by audiences and the high regard it holds in the market.

The film introduces us to the lives of individuals without an IC, thus unable to claim their national identity.

We peeked into the fate of our lead roles Ah Bang (played by Wu Kang-Ren) and Ah Di (played by Chen Ze-Yao), and their struggles for survival on the margins of society in Pudu.

The two brothers struggle with basic necessities; they can’t open a bank account, acquire a personal phone number, or secure legitimate employment. Their lives are marked by evasion from law enforcement and exploitation by others due to their vulnerability.

Image via 香港01

The movie skillfully captures the lively scenes of Pudu’s streets, showcasing a town full of life and rich in cultural stories.

The modest and unpretentious Pudu is starkly contrasted with the bustling Kuala Lumpur, effectively highlighting the disparities and contradictions in the lives of different social classes.

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The film uses locations and visuals to create an utterly desperate mood yet it subtly infuses a hint of ever-ongoing liveliness.

Award-winning performance

Wu Kang-Ren, who won the Golden Horse Best Actor Award, plays the central character Ah Bang. The film depicts his silent fight against the injustices of life on the streets of Pudu.

Despite facing despair and cruelty, he remains steadfast in his principles, striving towards a future that seems out of reach. We witnessed a Sisyphean tale, where Ah Bang battles adversity relentlessly, but despite his efforts, a normal, happy life seems forever unattainable.

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The director portrays Ah Bang as a deaf-mute, which is a choice that not only emphasizes his difficult fate but also beautifully conveys the theme of the movie.

In my opinion, Ah Bang’s deaf-mute character symbolizes the world’s indifference towards them. Despite their resilient struggle, their voices remained unheard and they were forced to live in the shadow of others’ prosperity.

Image via every little d

The film’s climax is particularly powerful, with Ah Bang finally shattering the illusion of his longing for a better future, revealing to the world his long-suffering pain and despair.

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In this scene, there’s no angry shouting, nor any musical accompaniment. The audience can only watch in silence as Ah Bang expresses his thunderous yet voiceless accusation with limited and monotonous sounds.

This silent accusation adds a profound sense of heaviness to ‘Abang Adik,’ leaving room for the audience to imagine the unheard screams.

Great supporting character

Image via Oriental Daily

Chen Ze-Yao, the second lead, exhibited remarkable performance as well. He matches Wu Kang-Ren’s performance, portraying Ah Di’s aimless drift in a world where he has lost hope, contrasting with Ah Bang’s relentless fighting spirit.

Their presence creates a clash of different beliefs while at the same time highlighting their deep, interdependent relationship.

Photo via Golden Horse Awards

The supporting cast also plays a pivotal role. Characters like Deng Jin-Huang’s Money and Zhou Xue-Ting’s Burmese girl Xiao Su add more layers to the film, making the story more three-dimensional and robust.

Money brings a touch of warmth to the grim tale, while Xiao Su creates a sweet and innocent romance, yet also illustrates the helplessness of the lower class in pursuing what they cherish.

Photo via 劇夠

Each character, though having limited screen time, leaves a distinct impression, supporting a story that is desolate yet beautiful, harsh yet filled with human warmth.

Although ‘Abang Adik’ has room for improvement in plot development and fluidity, particularly in the build-up to the climax, these shortcomings are minor compared to its overall excellence.

Support a brilliant movie

Photo via Oriental Daily

This film doesn’t need to rely on the “support local movies” tag to attract an audience, as it itself is a testament to the high level of creativity of Malaysian directors.

I hope that such films receive more recognition domestically and inspire more filmmakers to try producing movies in Malaysia that showcase local characteristics.

I also sincerely recommend that those who haven’t watched it yet bring their families to see this movie. I believe everyone can find something relatable in it and feel the genuine and familiar emotions it conveys.

If you are interested in watching more movie reviews, click here to read:

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