“Why You So Sepet Ah?”

I watched Sepet on TV last week (first day of Raya), it was the first time I watched it in it entirety. I know, I know, everyone has watched it when it was released it the cinema, but let’s face, this blog is never up to date in anything.

For the benefit of non-Malaysians, or those who have never heard of this locally produced movie, it’s a very simple love story between a Chinese boy and a Malay girl in Ipoh. They were classmates in primary school, and meet again after years later.

sepet banner

The guy (Jason) was a bleached blond pirated VCD seller (so typical…) and the girl (Orkid? Orked?) is from a solid family background is middle class Malaysia.

The entire movie is revolved around the symbolisms of clashing cultures: Chinese / Malay, seedy gangsters / blissful family, urban Chinatown / suburban Malay bungalow land, etc. Set in the paradox of symbolism itself, Ipoh. Ipoh is perhaps the most culturally vibrant and cosmopolitan city / town in Malaysia, second probably only to Penang (trust me, I know). And definitely far more than that other town known as Kuala Lumpur.

To be critical, the movie is a little soppy in parts and a tad too simplistic in its storylines. Some bits were obviously Hongky-wood influenced, I didn’t like character of the girl’s father (he’s a famous comedian real life).

But here’s the thing. Sepet stands out as the best Malaysian movie in a long long time, not because it’s exceedingly good (maybe it is, I’m trying to prove another point here), but because the rest of the output from the so-called established Malaysian movie industry veterans is utter crap.

Yes, I’m being cruel, but its true. Watch (or don’t watch) any movie in the last 25 years, and you know what I mean. Any movie by all those Hafsyams or Yusof Haslams or Senario nutjobs are so stupid and shallow and cheap-Bollywood-rip-offs any sane, tasteful Malaysians won’t pay to watch. Especially those featuring local singers attempting to act. Like Awie Wings. Or Erra Fazira. Or Any of those lame-ass ballad crooners. Dude, my high school drama had better acting. Seriously. Speaking of which, I half-watched one the other day (2nd day of Raya), featuring some Akademi Fantasia ‘stars’. Sure, win a second rate reality show-singing contest qualifies you to star in a so-called blockbuster. Sheesh.

So, I say Sepet is good, a breath of fresh air, in a shitty film industry. Kudos to the director, Yasmin. At least she GETS race relations in Malaysia. Just like Lat does. And she knows what proper scripting and dialogue means. Sadly too many other people don’t.

Go watch it, at the risk of sounding clichéd. By the way, I wrote a parody of the movie some months back. With two sequels. But read the first one, not the sequels (not so funny, I know).

Simon’s Sempit series (Sepet parody):
Sempit: A Malaysian Love Story
Sempit II: Some More Love Story
Sempit III: Malaysian Love Gone Wrong


  • lucia

    what about the movie puteri gunung ledang? it was also one of the best movie and won many awards. though it was a malay movie but the ironic part of it was that the director (name is saw something) is a chinese and the main actress (jacqueline tiara – who also produce the show) is non malay too.

    luckily this show was shown on ntv7 on friday night so i have the opportunity to watch it. (my sister grumbled it was very boring though).

    i was hoping sepet would be shown on tv too as i only saw ‘half’ of it when the CD on side 2 was spoilt. i didn’t notice it shown on tv. it was shown on astro?

  • boo_licious

    Don’t worry, I also watched it for the first time last week. It was on Astro Ria for the first day of Raya.

    It was pretty good but I thought some bits were too overexaggerated so it can become an “arty movie”.

  • simon

    lucia – it was shown on astro ria. i didn’t plan to watch it, but my wife was watching it. no money to go holiday so sit at home and watch tv lor…

    boolicious – yeah, it was arty in some places, and the lovey-dovey dialogue also quite geli. but the scene with jason’s family eating dinner was very good, almost too familiar…

  • Shan

    I’m getting soft here but I really, really love Sepet – just because it’s so simple. And yeah, Yeasmin’s got it spot on – so sick of rubbishy malay movies with weak scripts and even weaker acting…always sitting around coffee houses drinking jus oren or something like that kan? Hehe.

  • simon

    yeah and the night club scenes. Jeez. and they’re complaining about falling moral standards.

    and the fight scenes. with the loud punching sound effects.

    and the English/Malay/English dialogue.

  • Din

    Just like you, i think the malaysian film industry is damn shitty except for Sepet lah.

    i gotto add another one, yesterday i watched gol & gincu on astro, i must say, it’s not bad at all…..esp the chick in specs.

  • zyrin

    watched PGL. beautiful… but damnnnnnn slowwwwwww…

    managed to catch a bit of Sepet before my dad wanted to watch *his* shows. I think it was pretty good. and pretty realistic… altho my mom kicked up a fuss during the scene when the mom pulled down the father’s kain pelikat, exposing his teeny-tiny underwear.

    mebbe my mom wouldn’t be so bising of he’d worn boxers instead…

  • simon

    cyber red – 😛

    sashi – she’s cute. but that jason so kaku one.

    din – i saw a bit of it. i was thinking, gee, it must be bloody hot filming in the futsal arena!

    s-kay – maybe they didn’t think it was malaysian (?!) enough. but the international awards speak louder.

    lilian – actually i also quite sepet ma… chinese ma…

    zyrin – ya lor, that part so malufying. and they shouldn’t have said the ‘loteri’ joke.

  • mudslinger

    hi simon,
    glad you enjoyed sepet. you’re right, the other malay movies from all the other veteran directors (datuks and prof madyas included), suck big time. malu lah filem melayu like that.

    give puteri gunung ledang a chance. sure it’s long. but the beautiful scenes make up for it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *