Film review: Malaysia’s ‘Walid’ rivals ‘John Wick’

Walid (Megat Shahrizal) is ready to teach after school. Photo credit: Outsider Pictures
Walid (Megat Shahrizal, right) fights Deli (Arif Yasraf). Photo courtesy of Outsider Pictures.
Marina (left) fights against Jebat Zulfar in “Walid.” Photo courtesy of Outsider Pictures
Walid (Megat Shahrizal) teaches Aisha (Putri Kase Izwandi). Photo credit: Outsider Pictures
Yusran Hashim stars in “Walid.” Photo courtesy of Outsider Pictures

LOS ANGELES, July 27 (UPI) — Martial arts movies may follow a similar format, but they can be as unique as the martial arts featured. Walid“The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim,” which opens in New York theaters on Friday, is an action movie about the Malaysian sport of silat that also addresses social issues facing the country.

Walid (Megat Shahrizal) teaches spelling and reading to illegal immigrants who cannot attend public schools. Walid takes a personal interest in Aisha (Putri Kase Izwandi).

When Aisha is kidnapped by Pa Koo’s (Nam Rong) human trafficking ring, Walid takes on the investigation that the Malaysian authorities won’t, proving that he is no peaceful teacher when he has to fight.

Walid meets up with two agents (Sham Putra and Yusran Hashim) and they fight against Pa Koo’s men to rescue Aisha and all the kidnapped children. One of Pa Koo’s gang members (Cevat Zulfa) also joins the heroes after turning against Pa Koo.

The peaceful warrior is a Hollywood tradition: they try to do the right thing nonviolently until they are forced to fight.

John Wick wouldn’t hurt anyone if people didn’t kill his dog or steal his car. Steven Seagal has a penchant for Eastern philosophy, but somehow he always ends up using Aikido to beat up the bad guys.

Seagal has incorporated social messages into his martial arts films, such as his pro-environment and pro-Native American films, but his current ties to Russia seem at odds with that. Billy Jack also preached peace and tolerance, as long as the bad guys won’t listen to reason.

So the first half Walid The film follows Walid as he tries to educate the poor who are not supported by the government, in the hope that raising a kind and intelligent generation will improve Malaysia.

The film begins with several fight scenes that highlight the prevalence of silat on Malaysian streets, and eventually the reality of human trafficking spurs Walid and his team to action.

Walid It boasts excellent choreography captured with crisp cinematography and strong editing – if at times a little more frenetic than necessary – and the fights are impressive enough to be understandable, but never reach Jason Bourne-like levels of incomprehensibility.

Both hero and villain are fantastic warriors, and the winner graphically twists the bones of the loser, which I’m sure is down to visual effects, but it’s very convincing.

The film’s climax takes place in the traffickers’ warehouse, but the setting keeps changing as the action moves between new areas, including on beams and catwalks.

A drawn-out fight will naturally lose some of its grace over time, as heroes and villains both tire out and simply start brawling.

Walid It’s a great vehicle for a cast of fighters and actors. They should be brought to Hollywood. Raid Starring Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim and Yayan Ruhian.

This is a strong film for director Aryal Abu Bakar, who will likely move on to Hollywood films in the future, but until then, keep an eye out for some of his more intense action films in Malaysia.

Walid It will expand to Los Angeles on August 11th.

Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a Los Angeles-based entertainment writer for UPI. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, a critic for Rotten Tomatoes since 2001, a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012, and the Critics Choice Association since 2023. You can read more about his work in Entertainment.

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