Malay Chronicles, The: Clash of Empires (Bloodlines) (2011)

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Released 29-Jun-2011

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Music Video-"The Memories Remain" by Anuar Zain
Featurette-Making Of-The Making of Malay Chronicles
Trailer-x 6 but none for this film
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 104:48 (Case: 110)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (32:53) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Yusry Kru
Studio
Distributor

Eagle Entertainment
Starring Stephen Rahman Hughes
Gavin Stenhouse
Jing Lusi
Craig Fong
Henrik Norman
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Edry Abdul Halim
Faizal Bakhtiar
Wan Mohd Hafiz Husain


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Recently I reviewed the Blu-ray of The Malay Chronicles: Bloodlines here on this site. This plot section is copied from that review.

     In 120 AD the Roman Empire and the Chinese Han dynasty make an alliance: Prince Marcus Carpenius (Gavin Stenhouse) of Rome will be married to Princess Meng Li Hua (Jing Lusi) of China. They will meet half way on neutral ground, the Malay Peninsula, and be married there, cementing the alliance between the two great empires.

     On their way across the Arabian Sea, however, the Romans encounter a storm, losing most of their fleet and their gold. Marcus and a small remnant land in Goa looking for more men and ships. Instead they find Merong Mahawangsa (Stephen Rahman Hughes), a wanderer and vagabond who claims to be a direct descendant of Alexander the Great but who is currently facing death over a woman. However, he has a ship and to escape Goa he agrees to take the Romans across the Indian Ocean to Malaya. When they arrive, the Chinese led by Admiral Liu Yun (Craig Fong) are already there, encamped on the beach. Princes Meng does not want to marry; she fears being trapped forever, but she and Marcus do fall in love. But before things can go any further, the Romans and Chinese are attacked by Garudan pirates led by the violent Kamawas (Khir Rahman) helped by the shaman Taji (W. Hanafi W. Su) who can control the weather and whose amulet renders Kamawas invulnerable. The pirates massacre the Romans and Chinese, leaving everyone, including Merong, for dead and take Princess Meng captive. The Chinese have two months to come up with a huge ransom to get her back

     Merong is found alive and nursed back to health by the rival shaman Kesum (Dato’ Rahim Razali) and his adopted daughter Embok (Ummi Nazeera). Their village has also suffered from raids by the Garudans and Kesum knows of a prophesy that a man will come, unite the tribes, and destroy the pirates forever. Merong is not convinced, but in single combat he defeats the leaders of the other villages and becomes king. Preparing to attack the island base of the pirates, he is surprised to find that Admiral Liu, as well as Marcus, is still alive. Together they combine their remaining forces for an attack that, if successful against heavy odds, will free the Princes, destroy the scourge of the pirates and free the Malay people.

     The Malay Chronicles: Bloodlines (alternatively The Malay Chronicles: Clash of Empires, or in Malaysia Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa) has an intriguing premise: it is hard to resist a film the includes Romans, Chinese, pirates, sorcery, action and a descendant of Alexander the Great. The character of Merong is apparently based on the Malayan legend of Merong Mahawangsa, who was indeed a purported descendant of Alexander! That the film does not really live up to the premise is due to a couple of factors. First the plot is very convoluted and seems to be telling at least two different stories; the love affair between Marcus and Meng and the unification of the villages under a native Malay king and the destruction of the Garudan pirates, with a bit of sorcery and a lot of fighting tossed in. There are also a lot of characters in these two almost separate stories, leading to a lot of exposition and quite a bit of backstory as well. Thus the middle section of The Malay Chronicles feels like another film altogether. Perhaps realising this, the filmmakers have made the story one told in flashback with a narrator holding the pieces together. The narrator is writing The Malay Chronicles (which do actually exist!) The other main problem is the dialogue which tries to be interesting in talking about love and freedom but mostly comes across as ponderous when it is not plain silly: ”What good is sleep when eternal slumber awaits us all” is one of the better examples.

     However, The Malay Chronicles are not without interest. Stephen Rahman Hughes as Merong looks good with his shining muscles, he has charisma and moves well in the fight sequences. He does enough to suggest that with a better script he could be very interesting. Jing Lusi and Gavin Stenhouse are not too bad, although their roles, like most of the others, are underwritten. The fight scenes are energetic in the quick cut, throw in some fast and slow motion action way and generally work fine. Some of the sets, such as the camp on the beach and the Garudan pirate island village are also quite good. Indeed, when the film is in full flow, it is an exciting spectacle.

     A historical action film from Malaysia mixing Romans, Han Chinese, Garudan pirates, sorcery and a descendant of Alexander the Great is unusual to say the least. The Malay Chronicles: Bloodlines may not fully succeed but it has its moments.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The Malay Chronicles is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The original ratio was 1.85:1.

     The print is a mixed bag but not too bad for SD. Some sequences are razor sharp with excellent detail, others are quite soft. Most of the film is colour graded in some way; scenes in Goa are very desaturated and brown looking, other sequences look red (flashbacks), purple, green or blue. Some of the colour transitions can be quite jarring: look at 75:30 to 75:31 for an abrupt change. Because of the grading, skin tones varied as well, blacks look blue and shadow detail can be indistinct. When the print is not colour corrected, however, the colours looked bright and natural, blacks are fine and shadow detail good.

     The print was free of marks, with only very minor motion blur and aliasing.

     English subtitles for the hearing impaired were available. When subtitles are not enabled, they come on automatically to translate the lengthy sections of non-English dialogue in a clear white font in American English. I didn’t notice any obvious spelling or grammatical errors in the main feature.

     The layer change at 32:53 created a slight pause.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio choice was DTS 5.1 at 754 Kbps or Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps. The dialogue is primarily in English with some lengthy sections of Malay and a bit of Latin and Chinese. Dialogue was occasionally indistinct, but there are the subtitles; mostly it was fine and centred. The surrounds were frequently in use for music, crowds, weather, the clash of weapons and ambient sound. There were minor panning effects for arrows. The subwoofer supported the odd thump and the music without overdoing it.

     The music by Edry Abdul Halim was rousing when it needed to be and did a good job of supporting the visuals.

     Lip Synchronisation was fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Music Video (4:45)

     Music video of the end credit sequence song: The Memories Remain by Anuar Zain.

The Making of Malay Chronicles (21:45)

     Very much an EPK with extended film clips, some behind the scenes footage and sound bites from most of the cast, the director and costume designer. Covers briefly ideas, locations, music, costumes, stunts and characters.

Image Gallery

     20 film images.

Trailers

     Trailers for other films from Eagle Entertainment. They play on start-up and need to be skipped. They can also be selected from the menu: Pathfinders (2:18), The Bridge (1:07), The Terrorist (2:32), Henry 4th (2:13), Essential Killing (1:38), and Mr Nice (1:55).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 1 US DVD release has only Dolby Digital audio and no extras other than a trailer. It has Spanish subtitles if that is of interest. There is no listing of a Region 2 UK release, and nothing else on YesAsia.com. Looks as if we have the best version at present, which is nice. Buy local.

Summary

     It is hard to resist a film that includes Romans, Chinese, pirates, sorcery, action, love and a descendant of Alexander the Great all in one plot. It may not work as well as it could, but it has its moments.

     The video is OK given the colour adjustments, the audio good. Extras are limited, but there are some and at present Region 4 has the best version available.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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