[aka: Return to Murder]

Written & Directed by Dain Iskandar Said

Cinematography: Charin Pengpanich

Production Design: Dain Said

Music: Muzik Asal/Tan Yan Wei

Editing: HK Panca

Produced by Nandita Solomon

Toronto International Film Festival: September 2011

Malay Theatrical release, March 2012



Faizal Hussein

Zahiril Adzim

Pekin Ibrahim

Bront Palarae


Wan Hanafi Su

Tengku Azura


Production Studio:

Theatrical: Apparat Sdn. Bhd.

Video: Oscilloscope Laboratories



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 480p

Disc Size: DVD-9

Bit Rate: High (ca. 7.5 Mbps)

Runtime: 98 minutes

Chapters: 16

Region: All



Malay DTS 5.1

Malay Dolby Digital 2.0



Optional English


Bonus Features

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Dain Said

• Conversation with Dain Said  and Dramatist Huzir Sulaiman - in English (31:20)

• Making of Bunohan - in English (19:30)

• Original Theatrical Trailer



DVD Clamshell Case: DVD x1

Street Date: May 7, 2013


Overview [Wikipedia]

Bunohan is a Malaysian action drama film, written and directed by Dain Iskandar Said and released in Malaysia on 8 March 2012. The film features actors Faizal Hussein, Zahiril Adzim and Pekin Ibrahim in leading roles. Bunohan is the second film to be directed by Dain Said. Bunohan had its world premiere the Toronto International Film Festival 2011 where it was praised for its solid, visceral storytelling and arresting photography.


The film was selected as Malaysia's official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film nomination for the 85th Academy Awards in February 2013, but it did not make the final shortlist. Bunohan is the second [Malay] film to be submitted to the Academy Award since Puteri Gunung Ledang in 2004. Bunohan received thirteen nominations for the 25th Malaysian Filem Festival and won eight, including the Big Five awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Story, Best Screenplay and Best Actor/Actress, the first time since 2003's KL Menjerit while being the second most awarded Malaysian Filem Festival all-the-time after Layar Lara. The film also earned four Malaysian Screen Award nominations, winning Best Picture and Best Screenplay, while being nominated for Best Director (Dain Said) and the Best Actor (Faizal Hussien).



Set in a in a border town in northeastern Malaysia of the same name, Bunohan tells the powerful story of three estranged brothers – Adil, Bakar and Ilham – and their ailing father, whose fates become tragically intertwined in a web of deceit and corruption. After fleeing a deathmatch in Thailand, Adil the kickboxer is on the run from Ilham the hitman. The chase brings them to Bunohan, where they crash into the shady schemes of the ambitious businessman, Bakar. The trio’s unlikely homecoming brings to light the past of Pok Eng the patriarch, whose secrets will unravel the lives of all. Each man’s unfulfilled struggle for reconciliation and forgiveness leads to the violence of loss, betrayal, corruption and murder.


Critical Press


Bunohan appears to fit into the current wave of arthouse dramas, raising concerns about social issues while examining a fractured modern family. In the broader scale of arthouse cinema, it belongs, in most respects, to the family of subtle, slow pictures with very little overt action on screen. At the same time, it includes a fair amount of bloody violence, with throats cut and bodies sliced, which pushes it into somewhat more commercial territory. But there's only a total of a few minutes of kickboxing action. That leaves Bunohan a bit stranded, but for those who are open to its methods, it may be quite rewarding. Director Dain Said previously made Dukun, reportedly a tale of black magic and murder, which was blocked from release in its native Malaysia and remains rarely seen. Bunohan deserves to be seen on its own merits. – Peter Martin



Bunohan has more in common with a Terence Malick flick, which carries baggage both good and bad. Good, because what you get is the rarest of rarities in a local film: one that is packed with ambition and scope, amazing shots that show the beauty of Malaysia, and a script that doesn't pander to audience sensibilities. Bad, because, well, Malick's films can get slow and messy. Really slow, and really messy. . . The film also soars because it infuses what seems like your garden-variety flick about family ties with an unapologetic meta-spiritual element. Who's this kid who keeps appearing and talking in an adult voice? Why are there sudden shots of flying birds and hallucinations about shifting clouds? It gives the film a bigger-than-reality feel, like you're watching  an immortal battle between good and evil: the desire for money versus natural compassion, between obeying orders or bloodlines. It's another layer that gives the film powerful weight (and, we would think, lots of potential for sequels for director/writer Dain Said).



The film does sag in the middle however, as it attempts to untangle a web of relationships between all the characters in the film. It borders on tedious, and those who aren't fond of the slow, brooding pace in arthouse flicks will find this hard to bear. You are definitely not spoon-fed any plot-points, and it's a project that would probably be better understood on a second viewing. Again, remember: Malick. But then again, it's probably worth a second viewing. Bunohan aims big, and achieves most of its goals. Get ready to put your thinking cap on, to scratch your head at some moments, to gawk in awe at others. This is a movie that should live on beyond its cinematic run. And how many local films could you say that about?


Video, Audio: 8/7

Aside from slightly noisy shadows, the image is sharp and tightly resolved. Color varies from natural to vivid to a little thin, but deliberately as the scene warrants. Being on DVD, the audio is limited to DTS 5.1 or optional Dolby Digital stereo - both are very good for not being uncompressed. What we miss are the nuances of the jungle and beach and the dynamics of the fight scenes. The subtitling is sensible, but I long for a smaller font without jagged edges. The aspect ratio is 1.85:1, as it should be, not 2.35:1 as specified incorrectly on the back cover.


Bonus: 9

You say you are totally unacquainted with Malay culture? Perhaps you aren’t all that sure where Malay is - or should that be: “Malaysia? - and what place, if any, it has in world affairs. Beyond Singapore, what else goes on there? You’ll be happy to know that all of the bonus features on this disc are in English - not subtitled or dubbed, but spoken beautifully by the participants. That should tell us a little something regarding my questions about who these people are? They do put Dain Said’s film in the larger context in addition to detailing local culture. Fascinating stuff.


Recommendation: 8

Sidestepping Oscilloscope’s customary gatefold presentation, the studio goes cheap and dirty with a DVD case that wouldn’t catch the eye of a typical buyer of this studio’s work. The cover art is engaging enough but misdirects us as to the film’s content. The movie itself is complex, layered with men and one boy with strange sounding names that come and go and return again. What’s really nice about this DVD are the two bonus features that offer guidance to those of us unacquainted with this culture. I am wont to point out that this same movie is being released by Universal Pictures on German Region-B Blu-ray with English, French, Dutch and German subtitles - surprisingly cheap at the moment.

Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

May 21, 2013

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