Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2018 8:00 pm 
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NAM RON: CROSSROADS: ONE TWO JAGA (2018) - THE NEW YORK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL

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Eeny meeny, mene mene

Malaysian filmmaker Nam Ron’s third feature is a messy little movie all seen through yellow filters, that aims to show that corruption is everywhere. A longhaired guy carries out his more powerful father's dirty work, starting with burning the body of a worker who died in a fall. He takes a kid along with him who wants to be tough. His older brother hides his sister at a sleazy hotel while arranging for her to return home, because she hates working here. She has lost her passport. Their are other subplots, too many. The main focus is a corrupt cop going around with his new young partner, only 23, whose face is twisted into a scowl of distaste at all the bribes and payoffs he sees. The rookie tries to remain pure, but he turns out to be a loose canon whose desire to play by the rules leads only to tragedy.

The framing scene shows the rookie, but we don't know him yet, after a beating by interrogator. The next shot is of kids playing a Malaysian "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe" game that separates cops from robbers, both emblematic of how the two are indistinguishable, and referring to the boy, Jaga, who will be caught up in all the mess. The director, Nam Ron, deserves credit for juggling his excessive number of small plot lines clearly enough, for those who are capable of taking them all in. There are too many, though, and a third of them should have been left on the cutting room floor. The trouble is, we don't care deeply about anybody except, briefly, for the rookie cop, who, like everybody else, betrays out trust.

The film uses Indonesia’s Ario Bayu (Buffalo Boys) and the Philippines’ Timothy Castillo (Neomanila) playing illegal immigrants. (NYAFF festival blurb.)

See David Pountain's review on FILMDO (penned at the Udine Far East Festival).

Crossroads: One Two Jaga/One Two Jaga, 80 mins., debuted at Udine 22 Apr. 2018, also showing at Shanghai 16 Jun. It was screened for this review as part of the New York Asian Film Festival, where it shows 29 Jun.

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