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Movie Review: The Journey (2014 Malaysian film)

The Journey malaysia movie still - Ben Andrew Pfeiffer and Joanna Yew Hong Im

'The Journey' is a must-watch Chinese New Year film of 2014, it's Malaysian and yet better than the rest


Malaysia's beloved brilliant filmmaker Yasmin Ahmad (Sepet) may have gone, but after yet another great piece by Chiu Keng Guan, the locals may soon realise that he's also a gem in our film industry. Through his latest work, Chiu steps out of box from his previous great Chinese New Year films Woohoo! (2010) and Great Day (2011) to reflect on Malaysian Chinese traditional customs, typical ego and the progressive nature of the younger generation.

The Journey is a sincere, heartwarming and relatable film that touches on general local issues such as cultural differences, compromise, mutual acceptance,  language barrier, old friendship and of course, family. Ah Bee (Joanna Yew Hong Im) returns to Malaysia from England with her Caucasian fiance, Benji (Ben Andrew Pfeiffer) for the first time since young to pay her father, Chuan (Lee Sai Peng), and to hopefully receive his blessing for the marriage. The young couple find it more difficult than initially expected to please the stubborn Chuan, who's old-fashioned and conservative, strict with Chinese traditional customs.



Screenwriter Ryon Lee and director Chiu captured all issues mentioned while facing them straight-on with answers, convincingly conveying all the right messages that may change the stubborn mindset of the old and young target audience. The cinematography is so beautiful that it even made me wonder for a while if it's really filmed in Malaysia. The light humour cracked me up in several scenes although some parts are overly slapstick. The dialogues may be a bit too cheesy at times but it works, particularly towards the end where it's undeniably moving. They did, however, neglect on developing the relationship between the couple Ah Bee and Benji, but perhaps never intended to do so as it's not a romance flick. It's also a bit strange to not see Chuan distributing "ang pao's" (red packets) to people other than his own daughter.

All three of the main cast are first-time feature film actors did quite well. Lee Sai Peng's grumpy-faced role Uncle Chuan didn't require much but it's the most natural and realistic performance out of the three. Miss Astro Chinese International Pageant 2007 Joanna Yew Hong Im's performance is passable but her role Ah Bee could've been better written as her mix of Chinese and English dialogues are annoyingly pretentious. Her on-screen chemistry with Australian stage actor Ben Andrew Pfeiffer also seems restricted by the script. Pfeiffer's over-theatrical performance may make his character Benji seem like a mentally challenged and highly impatient white fellow at the beginning, but as the story progresses, Pfeiffer's fully dedicated performance along with the warm Caucasian charm makes Benji a very likable character. It would definitely further contribute to our local girls' crave for a Caucasian lover. He does need to work on his fake British accent though.

EDIT: Apparently, I've gotten the wrong info from some of the local media (which were likely provided by the distributor of the film). Pfeiffer actually comes from British heritage and the accent he was working on was from a more subtle region. He has 28 years experience in theatre, film and TV.

The Journey malaysia movie still meme - Ben Andrew Pfeiffer chasing after balloon

I would love to see director Chiu to attempt to make a multilingual or a non-Chinese-focused film next. We all know he can truly make great Chinese family drama comedies and now, it's time to go beyond that in order to make even greater masterpieces that would go down in Malaysian film history.

What I would've named the film: "Ang Moh the Mat Salleh: Tolerating Old Chinese Folks"

Censorship in Malaysia: A very clean family film for the festive season.

Second opinion: "I kinda liked it... I mean liked it lah," said my girlfriend who's a fan of director Chiu's previous works.

Verdict: Perhaps the best CNY film of the year although not as good as his previous two. Far more meaningful and refreshing than the foreign Chinese movies released this festive season. Even non-Malaysians can enjoy and relate to it.

Rating: 4 / 5

The Journey 2014 malaysia movie poster Chinese title: 一路有你 (Yat Lou Yau Lei)
Country / language: Malaysia / Multiple Chinese dialects, English, Malay

Rated: U
Genre: Comedy, family, drama
Running Time: 102 minutes
Director: Chiu Keng Guan
Writer: Ryon Lee
Cast: Ben Andrew Pfeiffer, Lee Sai Peng, Joanne Yew Hong Im

Malaysia Release Date: January 30th 2014
Local Distributor: MM2 Entertainment Sdn Bhd
Studio(s): Woohoo Productions



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22 comments:
  1. Definitely one of the best Malaysian movie. Keep up the good job!

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  2. Even though I havent watch the movie yet.. But I heard a lots people talking about it and said great movie.. Watched the Trailer in cinema, awesome story even no big cast, even no promotion, but this movie already create a trend.. Hope can show in cinema longer so more people can watch it...

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  3. Seriously, one of the best movie ever that relates to our life. Simple yet meaningful. A movie made for all, even to those "banana" Chinese like me.

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  4. One of the best local movie I've ever seen. Simple, entertaining yet meaningful. Relates to our life and would strongly recommend to all.

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  5. Hmm.. I don't see it strange to not see Uncle Chuan distributing "ang pao's" to other people because ang pao meant to give to kids and single people right? and through the whole cny period he only meet his friends.

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    1. I think some of his friends have kids or their kids have kids. One of them isn't married. And I can't recall if he brought like mandarin oranges and stuffs when he visits them. I might be mistaken though. Anyway, it's a small matter.

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    2. Angpau actually for anyone married or not...to show thanks and appreciation for adults,but it's tradition to give unmarried...just like valentine's day..not only to lovers but to parents and friendship as well...like us employees..we got angpau from our boss no matter married or not..it's sort of a reward for being hardworking...

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  6. 《一路有你》what a fantastic film to start off 2014, but 1 question to all of you and the film producer, why must we use a white guy as the main character and not the other way round. I'd love to see an asian film that features an asian male with a white girl instead of the vice versa as this phenomenon seems to be portraying to the society and supporting the propaganda in the film industry that asian guys are some what inferior to the white men. I presume more asian men would agree with me.

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    1. Well, my answer to that is that all other CNY movie protray Chinese men already so it is very refreshing to see a Mat Salleh in a CNY movie but in a main role. Kudos to Director Chiu for his brave and fresh approach. And I will say Ben really fit well in learning up the chinese culture and dialects

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    2. I think Director Chiu is very admirable for his fresh approach. All the other CNY protray Chinese men already in main roles. So why not a Mat Salleh in a main role in a CHinese CNY movie. I think it really sends the message across that it is not racial but more of harmony. This is further emphasis in his scenes of Uncle Frank and Fatimah. Fantastic

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  7. 《一路有你》what a fantastic film to start off 2014, but 1 question to all of you and the film producer, why must we use a white guy as the main character and not the other way round. I'd love to see an asian film that features an asian male with a white girl instead of the vice versa as this phenomenon seems to be portraying to the society and supporting the propaganda in the film industry that asian guys are some what inferior to the white men. I presume more asian men would agree with me.

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  8. I heard about this movie on our malay radio station.They interviewed uncle(cutie girl's father)I'm gonna watch it tonight at astro first.

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  9. I heard about this movie on our malay radio station.They interviewed uncle(cutie girl's father)I'm gonna watch it tonight at astro first.

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  10. Love the movie very much but two bloopers need to be rectified:
    1. Flashback: Astro dish that appeared on one of the houses when Bee left home to go to England in a Datsun 120Y.
    2 CELEBRATING EVERYONE'S BIRTHDAY ON THE SEVENTH DAY. Shouldn't this celebration precede Pai Tin Kong which falls on the 8th/9th day of CNY?

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    1. Didn't notice any of that. Great eye for details!

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  11. Love the movie very much but two bloopers need to be rectified:
    1. Flashback: Astro dish that appeared on one of the houses when Bee left home to go to England in a Datsun 120Y.
    2 CELEBRATING EVERYONE'S BIRTHDAY ON THE SEVENTH DAY. Shouldn't this celebration precede Pai Tin Kong which falls on the 8th/9th day of CNY?

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  12. Love cinematography. Like the humor, how Chinese culture is explained. .. Not just tradition

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  13. Love the cinematography. Like the humor. Like how Chinese culture is explained vs tradition. Very moving towards the end.

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  14. Couldn't agree with you more on the review! And I think it is brilliant because viewers of all ages can watch and relate at the same time. It is really hard to come out with content that is not only beautiful and touching, but it can be related by so many different audiences at once. It's a masterpiece!

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