Original Title: Wira
English Title: Wira
A heartless gang leader steals the land your home is built on and forces your family and fellow townspeople to work in the factory he built on there. The only person who can stop him is the reformed underground fighter, returning home after years away in the army… It sounds like the plot to a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie from 1989, and really it’s not too far off, but if you’re watching Malaysia’s Wira for plot and character development, you came to the wrong place.
What you should have come to Wira for is fighting, lots and lots of fights, and in that department, it doesn’t disappoint. Luckily while the plot is out of the ’80s the fight choreography is not, from illegal Muytai bouts to huge gang brawls, the action is staged almost perfectly. Another thing to like about the fighting is that almost all of the action is based in hand-to-hand combat, with little weapons, with the notable exception of a machete that is also a family heirloom.
The family aspect is something that does set Wira’s plot a little bit apart from its earlier counterparts. The clear hero is Hassan (Hairul Azman) returning from his time in the army, but he’s helped by his little sister Zain (Fify Azmi), who has been building her skills in the underground fight club (though I’m not sure where she learned the sword fighting ability she briefly displays), she battles side-by-side with Zain throughout almost the entire movie, which makes for both an interesting dynamic and the welcome addition of a female action lead.
Other high points of the film include the villain, Raja, played by Dain Said in a way that could be seen as way over the top, but seems to fit perfectly in a movie like this. Also, Raja’s main henchman Ifrit, played by Yayan Ruhian, who might recognize from The Raid movies and one fo the recent Star Wars, is great in the way he comes off as incredibly tough and scary without having to say a single word. The rest of the acting performances are fine, but again, what’s important is that they can all look convincing while kicking ass and they pull that off with no problem.
Subs &Dubs: It’s only available subtitled, but there’s really not THAT much speaking going on and even if you just pay attention during the fight scenes it’s still a good time.
Where to Watch: Wira is available worldwide on Netflix.