Graduated. Back in Malaysia. Not going to say anything about the 1-year absence in this blog. Except if you stumble across this post, well done, you have pretty much nothing else to do too. Which can be good.
I was having my daily dose of intense-remote-control-assault up and down the channels on the Astro satellite TV when I stumble upon a movie that believe will strike, stir and sabotage the heart (and possibly liver) of every KL-ite. It was a movie that would induce WC-defying scale of nausea in those poor homosapiens who spend their precious hours sitting in their cars at rush hour waiting for the driver sitting in the car in front to coax their 2-tonne steel-mobile a few inches forward. It was a movie that would bring one’s internals to experience laughter, sadness, hysteria and 230 different idiomatic expressions all at once. It was none other than THE VIRAL FACTOR, and man, how you feel like eating a pot of fire extinguishers for lunch upon watching the opening where some dude lands in KL International Airport and reaches KLCC in less than 2 minutes. In broad daylight. In smooth traffic. In a city, where you aren’t expected to tolerate congestion, but prayed to embrace it someday. Messy.
To the uninformed, nope, Kuala Lumpur isn’t one of those Bangkok-style traffic jam postcard nightmares, or the super-psycho Marco Polo boat queue of Venice (I’ve been there, and used to believe that boats cannot parallel-park). But all automotive mayhem breaks lose during rush hour, and believe me, you gotta service your in-car Bang & Olufsen more than your out-car, cos in a 2-hour standstill, it’s the only reason you wanna inch forward instead of following the direction of the sun. And into the drain. Smokey.
And the reason behind the curtain of reasons is in fact quite simple: the nation’s workplaces are too clustered and packed-together-intimately close that no single absolute real defined number of lanes can save the road artilleries from congestion diseases. Don’t believe me? Open up Google maps for Malaysia and randomly search for any big-name firms you StumbleUpon (pun!) and its either located in KL city (financial district, shopping malls, random horse-racing turf) or Shah Alam (industrial area, Made In Malaysia, chicken rice) or Putrajaya (government offices, that’s about it) or Klang (port of entry, port of exchange, port of exit) or Singapore (which is not part of Malaysia). And not to mention the gigantic number of smaller towns between these big-4 areas that locates your 40-floor serviced condo-partment and 2-storey garden terrace detached unit and high-end ultra-exclusive guards enclaved in your housing area and you get roughly 2 million sets of combinations involving suits, shoes and plastic hats commuting across town every day. Flashy.
Which is why, you will encounter massive head-banging amount of stationarius n. not-movingnus if you head down town at 8am mayhem-time, but do the same at 6pm dinner time and guard-forbid, you thought you have arrived in a different country. And you can dinner yourself to 7pm, and head back into the jam out of town. Hungry.
Solutions? Personally I think that this is a highly controversial question mark, as many people finds congestion a nuisance (Not that nasal internal one, it’s the external road congestion that’s bothering them). There are those relentless weekly letters to the newspaper and messy-media suggesting how more trains and buses and expensive cars can reduce the use of the personalmobile. Then there’s the pothole gang members blaming poor road conditions and meteor craters for slowing things down. Then the funky speedheads will blame it on speed limits that limits speed. Suggesting a solution will be as tough as cracking a nut full of bolts, strictly because nobody can tell whether the afore-mentioned suggestions by the afore-mentioned addressees actually work, without physically dumping lots of $$$ to test it out. You can say that public transport works in Singapore and London, so it’s a defi-solution, but have you sat in congestion in either places? I have, cos Singapore’s main highway, the CTE jams up at 10pm for some reasons (in your face) and the M1 in London rarely gets a peace-and-quiet at 5pm on weekdays (in your double face). And to add another double to your face, trams in Prague run into traffic with the rest of traffic, and getting stuck in the autobahn in Munich in a twin-turbo BMW 335i at 5pm is kinda something like KL. I can raise you with my stories in Oslo and Rome and Beijing, but what the helm, you get what I mean. The idea is, congestion, like Crocs and Take That, are here stay, and its no-doubt difficult to get around it. Hardly.
Which brings me back to the movie. I had to work especially hard for this review, in order to ignore the level 5000000 coincidental fact that two brothers (played by multi-talented Jay Chou and multi-award-winning Nicholas Tse) can both be so good looking, yet have make ends meet with a gun, and not a microphone. One also has to delve deep into psycho-inducing self-calming nature to watch a criminal (its you, Tse) buy train tickets but jump the ticket barrier shortly after. But the most impossible of all impossibilities is for both hunter and huntee to race from Putrajaya to Bukit Bintang shopping district to KL Sentral train station. All in what seems like 10 mins. With or without traffic congestion. In a Perodua Myvi. Crikey.
Aside from the timing/congestion issues, which were very very hard to ingest and expel, its actually quite an entertaining movie. Yes, for once, a movie gets a “Quite Entertaining” in this dying site. You get a good dose of Blackhawk-Down shooting scenes, excellent Fast-and-Furious cinematography of those guys destroying Pavilion shopping mall to bits in their Land Rovers and Land Cruisers, and impossible-to-film helicopter scenes yet to be found in other movies, in which this movie will become a benchmark for. And ultimately, this movie makes a pretty good Visit Malaysia advertisement for both tourists and filmmakers, showing off how dedicated the nation is in promoting our hottest destinations (and ultimately driving through everything) and the police response and, well, pretty much how big KL citytown is. Ignore the crazy plot, forgive the shot-thrice-but-still-alive acting, and all you get is a filtered-down, well-conceived story of the real KL life. Down to the hawker centre, the train station, the cars, the houses, and the city scape. I’d recommend it if you got 2 hours to spare. Yippy.