With Merdeka Day just around the corner on August 31, how many of these Malaysian movies have you seen?
Malaysia is home. No matter what race and religion, we can always count on one another. Apart from the rich heritage, scrumptious food and breathtaking places to visit, there’s nothing like it anywhere else. For a quiet celebration at home, go ahead and host movie nights with your friends and family on Merdeka day. We’ve curated a list of the most iconic Malaysian movies worth watching that tackle historical events and important yet relatable issues. It’s going to be worth the watch.
10 excellent Malaysian movies to watch this Merdeka Day
Starring iconic P. Ramlee; the movie Sergeant Hassan takes place during World War II. Here we follow Hassan, who dreams of joining the Malay Regiment. His father and brother, however, have other plans for him. With an urge to prove them wrong, he runs away to serve the army, and through his hard work, earns his title as a Sergeant later on.
Inspired by a true story, Pulang is a movie that caught the attention of many. The film takes us on a heart-wrenching adventure of love, family and sacrifice. Fast forward 61 years later, a young man discovers the fate of his grandfather, who made a promise – to his grandmother – to return after sailing away to seek his fortune. Upon hearing the incredible nostalgic tales, the young man makes it his mission and later searches for his grandfather.
1957: Hati Malaya
We follow the adventures of four young Malaysians who are assigned to curate a picture book from the events of 1957. Along the way, they find themselves invested in the events, moments and characters while discovering the true meaning of independence themselves.
This 2003 film is a Malaysian historical film set in the small town of Paloh, Johor. Set in the final days of the Japanese occupation in 1944, the movie follows four friends who served the Japanese Police Force. You can expect a gruesome tale on forbidden love, betrayal and the trial of friendships.
Football has its charm by bringing people together. Ola Bola is inspired by the triumph of the Malaysian National football team from the ‘80s. The inspiring movie takes us through a series of flashbacks, told through a reporter, during their preparation for the 1980 Olympics. Setting their differences aside, witness how one goal unites the team and nation.
Set in Malaya during the 1940s Japanese occupation, the film takes us through the eyes of a young yet headstrong leading lady named Embun. In this tale of freedom, love and stereotype, Embun’s family was detained by the Japanese. As she takes on her struggles alone, she falls in love with Japanese army public relations Koishi.
Listed as one of the top 10 films in Malaysian history, Paskal is an action-packed film based on the elite unit in the Royal Malaysian Navy. You will find yourself on the edge of your seats, following Paskal’s 2011 mission inspired by true events to rescue a tanker hijacked by pirates. Better yet, get your popcorn ready.
You can never go wrong with a dose of Yasmin Ahmad this Merdeka Day. Sepet, a breakthrough film in the Malaysian film industry, follows two people – with different racial backgrounds – who eventually fall in love. As the tale highlights the struggles of interracial romance; racial and religious differences in Malaysian society are personified in this iconic flick.
Rise: Ini Kalilah
Inspired by Malaysia’s 14th General Election, we follow the lives of six individuals – a businessman, teacher, reporter, student, police officer, and a Malaysian working in Singapore – and the obstacles they face leading up to the historic event.
This heartwarming tale follows Uncle Chuan, a conservative father who allows his daughter Bee to wed her fiancee Benji under one condition: to have a traditional wedding. With Benji hailing from England, his lack of cultural understanding of Chinese traditions could draw an issue between the both of them. As they embark on a nationwide journey to hand-deliver wedding invitations, can Uncle Chua learn to accept Benji into the family?
This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Kuala Lumpur
(Main image credit: Unsplash/MKJR; Featured image credit: 1957: Hati Malaya)