Silat Warriors: Deed of Death was released June 4, 2021 on Well Go USA’s Hi Yah TV platform. I really enjoyed the film and had the opportunity to speak with director Areel Abu Bakar. I hope you enjoy the interview and learn more about what this project means to him.
FFD: This past weekend, I saw the movie Silat Warriors: Deed of Death and really liked it. What was the inspiration for the film?
Areel Abu Bakar: This film was inspired by loan-sharking, which has become a very serious problem in our country. This made me want to create an indie movie about the problem that introduces audiences to Silat, our traditional martial art. This film is also considered my contribution to our country’s cultural heritage and what we have given to the world. My mission is to present that silat is from Malaysia and that it was recently recognized by UNESCO. I’m also thankful to Film Fan Dojo that you appreciate our film and take the time to review it on your blog and YouTube page.
FFD: This movie has gone international with the distribution by Well Go USA. Can you tell us what this means for the Malaysian film industry?
Areel Abu Bakar: Malaysian film industry was very surprised by how a low budget movie was able to penetrate international market. I hope Malaysian filmmakers will become more confident and help raise the profile of the Malaysian film industry and produce more films with identity, so people outside of our country can become aware of our movies. We must find a way to make it different from other foreign movies. ☺️
I hope they also give more attention to the culture and heritage of our country in their filmmaking.
FFD: What were some of the challenges you faced in making this movie?
Areel Abu Bakar: My challenges were how to tell the audience in my own country that Malaysia has a unique cultural art known as silat. Silat is not just a dance like people previously thought. This is what Silat Warriors tries to accomplish. Another challenge is no one wanted to fund the production of this film. So, I decide to produce with my own savings. I’m very proud of the result because I accomplished my goal of introducing silat to the world. I’ve been very fortunate to have had the support of a great team and wonderful friends who supported by from the vision stage to the final production. When you have a passion for something, that far outweighs any challenges.
FFD: The story is a simple (I think it is a good thing) and easy to follow. Do you think that simple stories in movies are undervalued in modern films?
Areel Abu Bakar: I don’t think it’s undervalued in modern films. My opinion in this filmmaking is what story and what message you want to tell to the audience. How you make it to attract the audience depends on your creativity itself. Art is very subjective. You can’t impress everyone to like your result. Everyone has their own taste when it comes to what types of movies they like. So, we just produce a good product and leave it to the audience to decide.
FFD: Family is a very important part of the story and in my opinion separated it from other martial arts films. How important was it to convey the importance of family bonds?
Areel Abu Bakar: Love is very crucial in our family. So I use this premise to tell the story of the importance of people’s relationships with their parents and siblings in life. Whatever your siblings do, right or wrong, you must do whatever it takes to protect them before anyone harms your family (within the confines of the law, of course). The martial arts also teach practitioners to stand up for what is right, to love each other and to give advice when your family does something wrong. So, I apply this in Silat Warriors.
FFD: International audiences have been exposed to silat in The Raid and The Raid: Redemption. The Silat in this film seems different. Can you explain to the readers about the particular style of silat used in Silat Warriors?
Areel Abu Bakar: In Silat Warriors, you notice the scene where the woman (Fatimah) had a fight at the jetty with ‘batik fabric’ (sarong cloth) using a move called ‘seni cindai.’ This is one one of the highest forms of silat practice. In another scene, a women fights while with wearing the batik fabric (sarong) using only small steps in a confined space. This shows that can fight or protect ourselves in any situation. We want to show the audience that there are many types of silat in Southeast Asia. Silat in The Raid and Silat Warriors use different skills but are based on the same foundation. And, of course, they were made on much different budgets. 😆 If you want to know more about silat, please do come and visit us. We welcome you to Malaysia with open arms and a warm heart.
FFD: The fights seem to get more brutal as the movie goes forward. Was this intentional?
Areel Abu Bakar: I wanted to show the audience how we feel when our family is attacked by bad people. This is to emphasize that you must protect what is yours. However, this film is not very bloody or filled with extreme effects because of strict censorship in Malaysia. Maybe in my next movie I will try to explore that side of things to appeal to international tastes. ☺️
FFD: Were many of the stunt fighters and actors in the movie silat practitioners as well?
Areel Abu Bakar: In Silat Warriors, 90 percent of the actors we use are real-life silat fighters and we don’t use professional stuntman. So all the fight scenes have a very real feel with less camera tricks to show the solid impact of the action. But, you will notice that the fight scenes admittedly come across as a little stiff because we did not use stunt performers, who know how to react to punches and kicks. Even so, I’m still proud because this was my first attempt. We will improve things in the next film.
FFD: Do you have any other projects in the works?
Areel Abu Bakar: Yes. My next movie will be Walid (father). It is also an action movie, but we focus more on storytelling, humanity, love and dignity. I’m really excited about this project and story.
FFD: Any thought you would like to leave fans of Silat Warriors?
Areel Abu Bakar: I want to say thank you very much to those who watch Silat Warriors because your support gives me strength to move forward and make eve better martial arts movies for audience who love the genre. Come visit Malaysia and learn more about Silat. Underneath it all, martial arts is not about fighting…it’s about coming together and loving each other as a global community.
FFD: Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. We wish you continued success and look forward to your future projects.
Areel Abu Bakar: Thank you Film Fan Dojo for inviting me for this interview. I really appreciate what you do to give exposure to all the different martial arts in the world through your writing and YouTube channel. See you in the next review.
This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.
Want more? Check out our interview with Khoharullah Majid, the the star of the film.