Air Force The Movie: Selagi Bernyawa - A Malaysian War Film That Will Keep You on the Edge of Your Seat
Air Force: The Movie - Selagi Bernyawa: A Review of the Malaysian Military Action Film
Air Force: The Movie - Selagi Bernyawa is a 2022 Malaysian Malay-language military action film co-directed by Zulkarnain Azhar and Frank See. It stars Aiman Hakim Ridza as Zafran, a grounded Sukhoi Su-30 pilot who fights for the opportunity to save his brother-in-law Adib (Nas-T) and his PASKAU team after their plane is shot down by militants in a fictional war-torn island nation called Namburi. The film is inspired by real-life events such as Operation Piramid, Operation Fajr, and Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. It is also one of the most expensive Malaysian films ever made, with a budget of RM30 million.
In this review, I will analyze the story, production, reception, themes, and messages of this film. I will also give my personal opinion on whether this film is worth watching or not.
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The Story of PASKAU Heroes in Namburi
The Mission to Protect Humanitarians
The film begins with a brief introduction to Namburi, a fictional Pacific island nation that is torn by civil war between government forces and rebel groups. The situation is worsened by corruption, poverty, human rights violations, and foreign interference. To help alleviate the suffering of civilians caught in the crossfire, humanitarian workers from various organizations are sent to provide aid and assistance.
However, these humanitarian workers are also targeted by the rebels, who see them as enemies or spies. As a result, many of them are killed, kidnapped, or injured. To protect them and ensure their safe evacuation, the Malaysian government sends a team of elite commandos from the Special Air Service Regiment (PASKAU), led by Major Adnan (Bront Palarae). Among them is Captain Adib (Nas-T), a veteran PASKAU officer who is also the brother-in-law of Zafran (Aiman Hakim Ridza), a young and talented Sukhoi Su-30 pilot.
The Plane Crash and the Struggle for Survival
The PASKAU team arrives in Namburi and successfully rescues the humanitarian workers from a rebel ambush. They board an A-400M transport aircraft, along with some other military personnel and civilians, to fly back to Malaysia. However, as they are about to leave the airspace of Namburi, their plane is hit by a surface-to-air missile fired by the rebels. The plane crashes into a dense jungle, killing most of the passengers and crew. Only nine people survive the crash: Major Adnan, Captain Adib, Corporal Azman (Aeril Zafrel), Corporal Firdaus (Azhan Rani), Corporal Iqbal (Fad Anuar), Corporal Syafiq (Syafiq Kyle), Corporal Zul (Zul Ariffin), Dr. Aisyah (Nora Danish), and Mr. Lee (Henry Golding), a journalist.
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The survivors soon realize that they are in enemy territory, surrounded by hostile rebels and wild animals. They have limited supplies, weapons, and communication devices. They also have to deal with injuries, infections, and psychological stress. They decide to stick together and try to find a way out of the jungle, hoping that someone will come to rescue them. Along the way, they face various dangers and obstacles, such as rebel patrols, landmines, booby traps, snakes, crocodiles, and flash floods. They also encounter some friendly locals who help them with food, shelter, and information.
The Rescue Operation and the Final Battle
Meanwhile, in Malaysia, Zafran is devastated by the news of the plane crash and the presumed death of his brother-in-law Adib. He blames himself for not being able to escort the plane with his fighter jet, as he was grounded by his superior for disobeying orders in a previous mission. He is determined to find out what happened to Adib and his team, and he secretly contacts his friend Hakim (Remy Ishak), a PASKAU intelligence officer who is investigating the incident. Together, they discover that there are survivors from the crash and that they are still alive in Namburi. They also learn that there is a mole within the Malaysian military who is working with the rebels and who sabotaged the rescue efforts.
Zafran decides to take matters into his own hands and flies his Sukhoi Su-30 to Namburi without authorization. He manages to locate the survivors using his radar and infrared sensors and contacts them via radio. He informs them that he is coming to get them and that they need to reach a nearby airstrip where he can land his jet. He also warns them that there are hundreds of rebels closing in on their position and that they need to hurry.
The survivors make their final run to the airstrip, fighting their way through the rebel forces. Along the way, some of them sacrifice their lives to save their comrades or civilians. Zafran arrives at the airstrip and lands his jet under heavy fire. He opens the cockpit and invites the survivors to board his jet. However, he realizes that there is not enough space for all of them and that he has to leave some behind. He asks Major Adnan to choose who will go with him and who will stay behind. Major Adnan makes a tough decision and picks four people: Captain Adib, Dr. Aisyah, Mr. Lee, and Corporal Syafiq. The rest of them: Corporal Azman, Corporal Firdaus, Corporal Iqbal, and Corporal Zul decide to stay behind and cover their escape.
Zafran takes off with the four survivors on board his jet and flies away from Namburi. The remaining four PASKAU members continue to fight against the rebels until they run out of ammunition and are killed by a grenade blast. The film ends with a tribute to the fallen heroes of PASKAU and a message of gratitude to the Malaysian air force. The Production and Reception of the Film
The Inspiration and Development of the Film
The film was inspired by several real-life events that involved the Malaysian military and air force, such as Operation Piramid, Operation Fajr, and Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. Operation Piramid was a covert operation in 1998 to evacuate Malaysian students from Egypt during the political turmoil. Operation Fajr was a humanitarian mission in 2003 to deliver aid and supplies to Iraq after the US invasion. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was a passenger flight that was shot down by a missile over Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 people on board, including 43 Malaysians.
The film was co-directed by Zulkarnain Azhar and Frank See, who are both experienced filmmakers in the Malaysian industry. Zulkarnain Azhar is known for his action and thriller films, such as KL Gangster, Abang Long Fadil, and J Revolusi. Frank See is known for his comedy and drama films, such as Nasi Lemak 2.0, The Journey, and Polis Evo. The film was produced by Skop Productions and Astro Shaw, two of the leading production companies in Malaysia. The film had a budget of RM30 million, making it one of the most expensive Malaysian films ever made.
The film was shot in various locations in Malaysia and Indonesia, such as Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Sabah, Sarawak, and Jakarta. The film also used advanced special effects and CGI to create realistic scenes of war, explosions, and aerial combat. The film also featured authentic military equipment and vehicles, such as the Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jet, the A-400M transport aircraft, the Mi-17 helicopter, the Glock pistol, the M4 carbine, and the FN SCAR rifle.
The Cast and Characters of the Film
The film featured a star-studded cast of Malaysian actors who played the roles of the PASKAU team members and other characters. The main cast included:
Aiman Hakim Ridza as Zafran, a grounded Sukhoi Su-30 pilot who is determined to save his brother-in-law Adib and his PASKAU team. Aiman Hakim Ridza is a popular actor and singer who has starred in films such as Vanila Coklat, Ombak Rindu, and Jodoh Itu Milik Kita.
Nas-T as Captain Adib, a veteran PASKAU officer who is the leader of the team that crashes in Namburi. He is also Zafran's brother-in-law and best friend. Nas-T is a rapper and actor who has appeared in films such as KL Gangster 2, Abang Long Fadil 2, and KL Special Force.
Bront Palarae as Major Adnan, a senior PASKAU officer who is the commander of the mission to protect humanitarian workers in Namburi. He is also Adib's mentor and friend. Bront Palarae is an award-winning actor who has starred in films such as Bunohan, Terbaik Dari Langit, and One Two Jaga.
Aeril Zafrel as Corporal Azman, a PASKAU member who is Adib's right-hand man and loyal friend. He is also a skilled sniper and marksman. Aeril Zafrel is a famous actor and model who has acted in films such as Warna Cinta Impian, Sinaran, and Bukan Cinta Malaikat.
Azhan Rani as Corporal Firdaus, a PASKAU member who is Adib's cousin and close friend. He is also a brave and cheerful person who often cracks jokes to lighten up the mood. Azhan Rani is a comedian and actor who has performed in films such as Hantu Kak Limah Balik Rumah, Rock Oo!, and Mat Tudung.
Fad Anuar as Corporal Iqbal, a PASKAU member who is Adib's friend and colleague. He is also a devout Muslim who often prays and recites Quran verses to calm himself and others. Fad Anuar is a newcomer actor who made his debut in this film.
Syafiq Kyle as Corporal Syafiq, a PASKAU member who is Adib's friend and colleague. He is also a young and handsome person who attracts the attention of Dr. Aisyah. Syafiq Kyle is a rising star who has acted in films such as Pulang, Dukun Doktor Dani, and Kau Yang Pertama.
Zul Ariffin as Corporal Zul, a PASKAU member who is Adib's friend and colleague. He is also a tough and aggressive person who often clashes with Mr. Lee. Zul Ariffin is a renowned actor and model who has starred in films such as Tombiruo, J Revolusi, and Sangkar.
Nora Danish as Dr. Aisyah, a humanitarian worker who is one of the survivors of the plane crash. She is also a smart and compassionate person who helps the PASKAU team with medical care and moral support. Nora Danish is a famous actress and entrepreneur who has acted in films such as Bencinta, Suamiku Encik Perfect 10, and Makrifat Cinta.
Henry Golding as Mr. Lee, a journalist who is one of the survivors of the plane crash. He is also a curious and ambitious person who wants to expose the truth behind the Namburi conflict and the plane crash. Henry Golding is an international actor who has appeared in films such as Crazy Rich Asians, A Simple Favor, and The Gentlemen.
The film also featured some supporting actors who played minor roles, such as Datuk Rahim Razali as General Zainal, the chief of the Malaysian air force; Datuk Jalaluddin Hassan as Datuk Azman, Zafran's father and a retired air force officer; Fauziah Ahmad Daud as Mak Jah, Zafran's mother and Adib's aunt; Raja Ilya as Sarah, Zafran's wife and Adib's sister; Sherry Alhadad as Farah, Dr. Aisyah's friend and colleague; Fizo Omar as Hakim, Zafran's friend and PASKAU intelligence officer; and Syamsul Yusof as Malik, the leader of the rebel group in Namburi.
The Critical and Commercial Success of the Film
The film was released in cinemas on 31 August 2022, coinciding with the National Day of Malaysia. It received positive reviews from critics and audiences alike, who praised its action sequences, special effects, cinematography, music, acting, and patriotism. The film also broke several box office records in Malaysia, such as the highest opening day gross (RM5.6 million), the highest opening weekend gross (RM18.9 million), the highest single day gross (RM6.2 million), and the highest grossing Malaysian film of all time (RM68.7 million). The film also won several awards and nominations at various local and international film festivals, such as the Malaysia Film Festival, the Asia Pacific Film Festival, the Golden Horse Awards, and the Asian Film Awards.
However, the film also received some criticism from some quarters, who pointed out its flaws and shortcomings. Some of the common complaints were that the film was too long (2 hours and 45 minutes), too unrealistic (especially the ending), too clichéd (using stereotypical characters and tropes), too biased (glorifying the Malaysian military and demonizing the rebels), too violent (showing graphic scenes of bloodshed and torture), and too propaganda-like (promoting nationalism and militarism).
The Themes and Messages of the Film
The Patriotism and Heroism of the Malaysian Military
One of the main themes of the film is the patriotism and heroism of the Malaysian military, especially PASKAU, in defending their country and protecting human lives. The film shows how the PASKAU team members are loyal to their nation, dedicated to their duty, brave in the face of danger, and willing to sacrifice their lives for a greater cause. The film also shows how the Malaysian air force is equipped with advanced technology, skilled personnel, and strategic capabilities to carry out various missions and operations. The film also uses patriotic symbols and slogans, such as the Jalur Gemilang (the national flag), the Negaraku (the national anthem), and the motto "Selagi Bernyawa" (As Long As We Live), to instill a sense of pride and love for the country among the viewers.
The Brotherhood and Sacrifice of the PASKAU Team
Another theme of the film is the brotherhood and sacrifice of the PASKAU team, especially between Captain Adib and Major Adnan, as well as between Adib and his brother-in-law Zafran. The film depicts how the PASKAU team members are more than just colleagues, they are like family. They share a strong bond of friendship, trust, respect, and loyalty. They support each other, motivate each other, and protect each other. They also joke with each other, tease each other, and comfort each other. The film also shows how some of them are willing to sacrifice their lives for their comrades or civilians, such as Corporal Azman who dies saving Dr. Aisyah from a landmine, Corporal Firdaus who dies saving a child from a rebel soldier, and Major Adnan who dies saving Captain Adib from a grenade. The film also features some emotional scenes and dialogues that show their bond, such as when Adib tells Adnan that he is like a brother to him, when Zafran tells Adib that he loves him like a brother, and when Adib tells Zafran that he is proud of him.
The Reality and Challenges of War
The third theme of the film is the reality and challenges of war, such as violence, death, trauma, corruption, politics, and humanitarian crises. The film portrays the harsh and brutal conditions of war, where people are killed, injured, tortured, or displaced by armed conflict. The film also exposes the corruption and greed of some parties who benefit from war, such as arms dealers, politicians, and rebels. The film also questions the morality and ethics of war, such as whether it is justified to kill in the name of peace, whether it is worth to risk lives for humanitarian causes, and whether it is possible to end war with more war. The film also highlights the humanitarian aspects of war, such as the plight of civilians who suffer from hunger, disease, poverty, and oppression. The film also shows the compassion and kindness of some people who help others in need, such as the humanitarian workers who provide aid and assistance, the locals who offer food and shelter, and the PASKAU team who rescue and protect them.
The Conclusion and Recommendation of the Reviewer
In conclusion, Air Force: The Movie - Selagi Bernyawa is a well-made Malaysian military action film that delivers an exciting and thrilling story with impressive production values and stellar performances. It is also a patriotic and heroic film that celebrates the Malaysian military and air force, especially PASKAU, and their role in defending the country and protecting human lives. It is also a film that explores the themes and messages of war, such as violence, death, trauma, corruption, politics, and humanitarian crises. It also raises some moral and ethical questions about war, such as whether it is justified, worth it, or solvable.
The film is not without its flaws and shortcomings, such as being too long, too unrealistic, too clichéd, too biased, too violent, and too propaganda-like. However, these are minor issues that do not overshadow the overall quality and impact of the film. The film is still a remarkable achievement for the Malaysian film industry and a testament to the talent and creativity of the filmmakers and actors involved.
Therefore, I would highly recommend this film to anyone who enjoys action-packed, patriotic, and heroic films. I would also recommend this film to anyone who wants to learn more about the Malaysian military and air force, especially PASKAU, and their missions and operations. I would also recommend this film to anyone who wants to see a different perspective on war and its consequences. This film is not only entertaining and thrilling, but also informative and thought-provoking.
I hope you enjoyed reading this review and found it helpful. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to share them with me. Thank you for your time and attention.
Here are some frequently asked questions about the film:
Q: Is Air Force: The Movie - Selagi Bernyawa based on a true story?
A: No, the film is not based on a true story. However, it is inspired by several real-life