Chinese Eye (Sepet)
Language: Malay, English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien
Director: Yasmin Ahmad
Cast: Ng Choo Seong, Sharifah Amani
As usual, every month I think of the countries, the movies of which I have not yet explored. Sometimes it’s staring you in the face and you just don’t realise it. And it is thus that I realised I had never watched a Malay movie! Having visited Malaysia twice, it was strange that I had never thought of looking for Malay movies to review. ‘Sepet’ or ‘Chinese eye’ is a sweet romance with sufficient dollops of drama to keep you curious throughout the movie. Ah Loong (Seong) is a young Chinese boy who sells pirated VCDs in the market. One day, Orked (Amani), a young, pretty Malay girl comes to buy movies and he is smitten. He tells her his name is Jason, and slips in his phone number on a little bit of paper in the cover with the movies. Orked calls him and a sweet, young romance ensues.
Before I watched the movie, I was expecting just that – a sweet, young romantic comedy. Well, remember the oodles of drama I spoke of earlier? That changed things a bit. Jason and Orked are from two completely different cultures, those that rarely cross paths, much less, romance or marry. And this was something completely new for me. That the Chinese and Malay don’t really mix in Malaysia. Their romance raises quite a few eyebrows, both from friends and family and we realise how deep the prejudices run. They are unmindful of the comments though, and their romance blossoms.
Meanwhile, our young hero, Ah Loong is caught up in a sordid mix of money, sex and gang politics in his lower-middle class locality. We realise that he has an affair with the local goon, Jimmy’s sister. The timelines are a bit blurry and we are not sure if he is cheating on Orked or if the affair happened before he met her. All the same, non-disclosure comes to bite him – Jimmy is on the lookout for him and why? Well, Ah Loong gets his sister pregnant. The movie takes a dramatic turn for the worse. Ah Loong and Orked separate and Orked gets a scholarship to study in England, and she is devastated with the news. Ah Loong tries to win back her trust with long letters of his undying love. Does the magic return or does the movie end in tragedy? Watch the movie to know what becomes of the young Chinese-Malay couple.
Verdict: Interesting watch, especially the way English is spoken by the Malay! I love it lah!
Hot: Facets of Malay society and culture that you may never have thought to explore
Not: I felt it was over-dramatized a bit, but that’s something we Indians are used to!