For me to even be writing something now (let alone a review), when I haven't been blogging for quite some time (10 months to be exact), shows that this movie is really 'something'.
I chanced upon OLA BOLA's movie promo while reading a random gossip blog - it didnt catch my attention the way the wedding pix of the two celebrities featured in the blog.
Next, a friend mentioned it on Whatsapp. Me: okay, will check it out when I have the time.
Then I got bored and wanted to watch a movie. Read some movie reviews and checked some movie trailers on Youtube.
Liked what I saw, pestered my husband:
"Jom tengok Ola Bola?!"
He just laughed.
We don't watch local movies.
No matter how hyped they were.
Puteri Gunung Ledang, Cicakman, Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa, KL Gangster, Police Evo, The Journey - you name it, we've missed it.
Hubby says: "Nanti keluar TV, tengok la..."
Chinese New Year came and I tried my luck again:
"Jom la tengok Ola Bola..." (mode manja :P).
This time around my suggestion was seconded by my son. Found out that his friends had recommended him to watch it. They say it was an 'inspiring' movie.
So the three of us went (hubby reluctantly, so).
* * * * * * * * *
It was full house; the audience, a mixture of gender (though it's about football), colour (because it was promoted as a muhibbah movie), and age (groups of youngsters, elderly couples, families, etc).
The setting of Ola Bola was 1980s Malaysia. Good depiction of that era - ruffled hairdos, retro fashion, vintage cars, etc. It certainly made me feel 10 again :).
Lots of scenes that made you go:
"Awww... I remember that!"
... like adjusting the arial to get the best TV reception :D; the whole family camping around the TV to support the Malaysian team, and the joget lambak!
The most poignant scenes, were the ones which showed the characters tapping rubber in the wee hours of the morning, collecting the rubber scraps, mixing the latex, flattening and rolling the rubber
... they reminded me of my beloved late grandfather... :'(.
The movie is supposed to be based on a true event: Malaysia's 1980 pre-olympic saga. The main characters were fictional, but based on Malaysia's football legends - Towkay = Soh Chin Aun? Ali = Hassan Sani? Eric = James Wong? Muttu = R. Arumugam? The story revolved around their lives on and off the pitch. A critic commented that the characters were too sanitized to be true. Yup, the director tried to inject some moral values through the characters such as:
'Perseverance': the filial son who juggled multiple jobs to support the family (Ahmad Maslan comes to mind...:P); the high achieving daughter who had to sacrifice her ambition to support her family; the bread-winner who worked hard to feed his children.
'Practice makes perfect': the up-and-coming striker who practiced late into the night to perfect his skills; the novice sportscaster endlessly honing his skills on sportscasting.
'Hope': the reserve who never gave-up hope to be in the line-up.
'Sacrificing oneself for the country': the striker who played on despite his injury.
Hehehe... I better stop before this becomes a nilai-nilai murni write-up :P.
The quality of acting? Boleh lah... considering the main casts were first-timers, but Bront (the only seasoned actor in this movie) was brilliant as Rahman the sportscaster (Hasbullah Awang?). J C Chee was too jambu to be Chin Aun, but he's nice to look at... hahaha! The actor who played Ah Chai (the reserve) was hilarious, thanks to the punch lines and pun that came with the role. The mere sight of him (a natural goof) and Uncle Frankie (the security guard) was enough to make people laugh. Heck, even the monkey was very much in its role.
The football scenes were very real. Small wonder as the actors were footballers first, actors, second. A touching moment was when the spectators sang "Inilah Barisan Kita", the 'original' anthem of Malaysian football. Those were the days before the hollers of "Ole!Ole!Ole!Ole!"
The cinematography was excellent. It made us go:
"Cantik jugak Malaysia ni!".
I particularly liked the aerial and panoramic shots of Stadium Merdeka, the forests and mountains (Broga Hill?), the railway (Sabah?) and the rubber estate (Segamat, I heard).
Hubby's verdict: "Deep", "Best Screenplay (for a local movie)"
My verdict: a heart-warming rendering of the golden era of Malaysian football in the 80s. Kudos to the film director and his team! Rasa sedih pun ada due to the current state of Malaysian football. I don't watch football anymore...
But... GO WATCH THE MOVIE and watch out for a few cameos!! Sorry guys, no spoilers from this first-time reviewer, too! :)
My suggestion for a similar-themed movie: The 1988 Thomas Cup Semifinals. You have 'muhibbah' characters similar to OLA BOLA: Malay shuttler-brothers (Sidek brothers), the Chinese shuttlers (Foo Kok Keong, Ong Beng Teong, Cheah Soon Kit), an Indian manager (Punch Gunalan), a foreign (mainland China) coach (Fang Kaixiang) against the Giants of Badminton (Indonesia).
Any takers??? :)