MALBATT: Misi Bakara

MALBATT: Misi Bakara is a Malaysian war movie that tells the story of the 19th Battalion Malay Regiment, which was deployed as part of the United Nations peacekeeping force in 1993, and their mission to rescue the trapped American soldiers following the Black Hawk Down attack. Directed by Adrian Teh, the movie is the first Malaysian film to be formatted and released in the IMAX (DMR) format.

MALBATT: Misi Bakara recounts the ‘true’ story of the Battle of Mogadishu (in Somalia) previously dramatised in the American movie Black Hawk Down. Whereas Black Hawk Down had marginalised the contributions of the Malaysian soldiers, this movie goes all the way to the other side. Presenting the Malaysian soldiers as the real heroes of the Battle of Mogadishu, with the American soldiers portrayed in somewhat negative light. Talk about your culture wars!

In that respect, MALBATT: Misi Bakara is a refreshing experience for South-East Asian audiences as it reflects a more balanced and nuanced perspective than your typical American war movie. Director Teh must be commended for putting together an engaging war movie, faithfully re-creating all the technical military details with little compromise. A truly immersive movie.

Perhaps the only ‘flaw’ one could detect would be the rather over-dramatic climax, which stretches credulity and challenges the suspension of disbelief somewhat. Thankfully, a minor quibble. The movie is unique in presenting the Malaysian soldier as a collective main character and it’s not difficult for the audience to be rooting for the Malaysian forces to a man, especially when competently performed by the ensemble cast.

MALBATT: Misi Bakara is certainly one of the better movies of 2023 and bodes well for the future of South-East Asian film-making. Highly recommended!

Opens in Singapore cinemas on August 24th. Book your tickets now from Golden Village.

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