There was some controversy generated during the initial filming of the movie. Several scenes were shot at a scenic forest reserve in the Cameron Highlands, a popular Malaysian tourist destination. The film's producers were accused of damaging the environment by felling trees without permits as well as ruining the pristine nature of the site. See more »
The Majapahit palace has walls made out of modern red brick, certainly not available in 15th-century Java. See more »
Performed by M.Nasir and Siti Nurhaliza See more »
For the first time in my life, I really have to admit that Puteri Gunung Ledang is so far the first Malaysian movie that contains all the right ingredients for a good and watchable movie. Truthfully, I have never liked any Malaysian-made movies before PGL, thinking that either the filmmakers here never actually bother for quality for the sake of money or perhaps, obviously, that they don't know the proper principles of film-making after all. When I decided to watch PGL a few weeks ago, I kept asking myself if this money was worth the ticket price. Fortunately, it was. Thanks to Teong Hin Saw's brilliant direction, PGL gives a refreshingly new perspective to the casual viewers and also fans of World History.
Basically, it is a love story between Hang Tuah, the legendary Malay Warrior of Malacca and the Javanese princess Gusti Putri (the title character) whose relationship arouses the tensions between two worlds: the Sultanate of Malacca and the Majapahit Empire. The plot may be a bit straightforward but its production values makes a major leap over the previous Malaysian outings; you can safely assume that PGL is definitely a work of a pro. Great cinematography (forget about the Cameron Highlands issue), exhilarating camera moves and editing, decent fighting sequences and quality SFX prove it all. Casting, on the other side, is a mixed bag: some perform extremely well, expressing their powerful gestures convincingly while the rest are surprisingly wooden, leaving lots of rooms for improvement.
It's true that PGL is not without flaws: the most obvious is the pacing of the entire movie and as a result, it is not a well balanced movie. The lack of any action sequence in the middle act makes the movie seem a bit draggy, filled with long (twisted for some viewers) conversations, tight focus upon the two lovers and other unnecessary slow-moving sequences. Unlike any international epic movies you have seen, PGL is rated 'G', suitable for the whole family, which basically means that it contains no forms of profanity or suggestive elements that may otherwise prove sensitive to some viewers. This only cheapens the maturity of this movie: for me, the whole movie, despite excellent production values, feels mild and unsatisfying as if I ate a half-baked cake.
PGL could have been a great contender in any film festival if a) it were a bit more sensual (ala Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), b) more violent (ala Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy), c) more thought-provoking and visually more disturbing (ala Ron Howard's A Beautiful Mind). Despite these inevitable drawbacks, the Malaysian film industry seems to be taking the right path and this is just the beginning. For now, PGL feels like a good movie. Not phenomenal, though.
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