The Helmi Yusof comedy, Bikers Kental 2 opens in an engaging fashion. An intense Pornthaliwat (Bront Palarae) walks out of a Thai prison with a limp. He gets into a light scuffle with the armed guard on duty. He asks for a cigarette. His good friend awaits his arrival. They embrace as brothers would, only to be rudely interrupted by gangbangers who kidnap them. The next scene is a negotiation of sorts, one that goes wrong. The rival ganglord shoots Pornthaliwat in the chest — pow pow! He dies… and this movie along with him.
I can’t help but wonder if Palarae took a whiff of the script, pinched his nose and said: “yeah no way I’m gonna be a part of this fart box.” Nobody expected Bikers Kental 2 to be a satisfying work of pure cinema, but I didn’t foresee it to be this mind-numbing, this insufferable, this unpalatable. It wreaks of musky rotten eggs from start to finish. But hey, I always try to look for redeeming qualities in films even in the ones that are bad. This one was a challenge, but I managed to crack my head and think of two.
For one, there are some flashy motorcycle stunt sequences. The stuntmen deserve props for rocking all sorts of insane feats with their bikes that most of us wouldn’t be able to pull off even in our wildest dreams. (But even these sequences are hollow like empty Milo cans, lacking in substance, thrills and directorial style.) Next redeeming quality: It’s short. Running at around 90 minutes, Bikers Kental 2 is over before you begin begging the movie gods to put an end to your misery. Or maybe I’ve just built up a high tolerance for bullshit over the years.
This is a feature film only by its technical definition: moving images that run for a particular length of time. In reality, Bikers Kental 2 is merely a collection of juvenile gags. Consider this bit that’s repeated a number of times: The plus-sized Aidid (Afdlin) snorts like a pig involuntarily when he speaks (think of it as a variation of Tourette Syndrome). His friends give him the WTF look whenever he does it. And… that’s it. That’s the joke. I can’t believe a bunch of creatives actually sat in a room, brainstormed and came up with this.
But it’s one thing for us, the audience to hate a joke, it’s another if the director himself does. Midway through the film, this running gag is thrown out of the window and forgotten — suddenly Aidid is completely cured of the previously established piggy disorder. I don’t know if Helmi Yusof realised how dumb that joke is or he just doesn’t give a shit about continuity, but if this was a betting pool in Vegas, I’m putting my money on the latter, because that’s frankly the kinda movie this is. On screen, we see a text message bubble that reads “which hotel are you staying at?” in proper English, but when the camera zooms in on the phone it instead reads “which hotel you stay at?” in broken English that’s more in line with the character sending the text. As John Campea used to say continuity schmontinuity!
If you think I’m being overly nitpicky, perhaps I am. But this is the type of film that is so blatantly moronic and dumb, it practically invites you to tear it apart and poke fun at it. The idea, at its most fundamental level, is fine. Amerul Affendi’s Al Capon is stuck swimming with the sharks in Thailand cause he owes them a lot of money. Zizan’s Bidin who journeys to the land up North to propose to his girlfriend gets entangled in this mess. It is a simple story that could’ve been developed into a fun action-comedy. Instead, we get a cheap looking, compilation of nonsense.
It would be less of a problem if the many, many pointless sequences that fill up the film’s runtime are remotely entertaining, funny and add depth to the characters. But they’re not and they don’t. Helmi Yusof’s idea of comedy is a character choking and spitting his food out on another set to Looney Tunes sound effects. Bikers Kental 2 is witless and obtuse.
Or what about this bit? Aidid and Eddie, two straight guys, walk into a jewellery store. The store owner tells them that there’s a special discount for gay couples. So they immediately make their voices sound more “feminine”, chuckle and say, “omg yes! We’re gay. Look, he’s grumpy cause he’s on his period.” I’m not saying don’t make gay jokes. I’m saying it’s 2019, so let’s make better ones.
Zizan is one of the best local comedians working in Malaysian cinema today. We only need to look at his most recent film, Polis Evo 2 to realise that. It’s a serious action film, yes, but Zizan’s snappy line delivery, body language and natural charm bring the necessary amount of lightheartedness to the mix. In Bikers Kental 2, his line delivery is awkward. An early scene where he talks to his girlfriend through Skype is cringey. The fault doesn’t lie with actor, but the horrible material he’s working with.
There’s some chemistry to be found between Zizan, Awie and Afdlin. For the most part, though, they wear a “why did I sign up for this?” look on their faces. There’s also Amerul Affendi’s Al Capon who’s forced to do bad things as the head honcho has his wife at gunpoint. Once again, the idea is fine. But the big dramatic moment he gets in the third act is poorly acted, jarring and falls flat because the previous 85 minutes contains zero meaningful character beats.
None of the character writing and performances, though, is as awful as Bidin’s girlfriend, Cherry (embodied by Menu Julangtip). Where did the casting director pluck her from? And why does she constantly — and I mean CONSTANTLY — say saaAyaaaNg instead of sayang? Why does she not speak, but communicate in ear-piercing screeeeeches? Perhaps it’s a creatively genius bit of casting. After all, this film is about a bunch of bikers and her voice reminds you of the sound a motorcycle makes when you hit the emergency brake while speeding.
Bikers Kental 2 (2019)
Nobody expected Bikers Kental 2 to be a satisfying work of pure cinema, but I didn’t foresee it to be this mind-numbing, this insufferable, this unpalatable. It stinks like musky rotten eggs from start to finish.