Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 88%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 57%
IMDb Rating 6.6 10 663


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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Tom Dooley 6 / 10

Malay tale of Capital Punishment

Aiman is 28 and works as a correction office or prison guard as we normally refer to them as. Then he gets transferred to the top 'nick' in the country and this is where they carry out the executions that they are so fond of doing there. Once there he meets Rahim who is charming and World wise. He is drawn to this man who has been the executioner for a long time and knows his craft.

Now as it turns out his father was executed some years before leaving him and his sister in dire straits and affecting them both forever. However, the attraction that Aiman has for Rahim and his special service is stronger than the revulsion and hence he goes on a journey of self discovery.

This is Malay but they speak mostly English but there are sub titles that you may need from time to time which are also quite good. The production values are actually really high and the acting is all top notch too. The story is a simple one but it is compelling and has enough dramatic attention to hold your attention. Recommended for World cinema fans.

Reviewed by shaunjmaher 8 / 10

Shadow of the Noose

When deciding to see a prison movie you have already prepared yourself for a gritty, realistic experience. When you know it's a prison movie about an apprentice executioner, you have to prepare yourself to pre-mourn the dead men walking you are about to meet. But Apprentice doesn't focus on the prisoners; it's a story about the guards and how they manage to do the worst job in the world.

Aiman (Fir Raham) is drawn to small places. As a boy he would hide in a cupboard and as an adult he leaves the army for a job in the prisons. He's there to do good, and thinks he can help to change the prisoners. But his positive intentions can't stop his fascination with the Condemned Block. His attention is caught by the gate that bars his entrance and the men that work behind it. In particular the white haired Chief Executioner (Wan Hanafi Su) catches his eye, and as Aiman volunteers, ingratiates and manipulates himself into that world, The Chief becomes his Miyagi.

But there is no repetitive car waxing here. Death Row doesn't wait for laborious life lessons. However, just like Daniel Laruso, Aiman does have to learn new skills, and his relationship with the older man is the centerpiece of the movie. The Chief sees something of himself in young Aiman. He laments modern rules and regulations, knowing that leaders don't come from following the rule book and he likes that Aiman has some rough edges. They are both single and while the movie doesn't bother itself with any forced romantic subplots, we learn The Chief was married once but his job got in the way and there has been no-one since. His business card rarely goes down well at speed dating nights.

Apprentice doesn't delve into any extraneous relationships at all. Aiman lives with his sister, Suhailia (Mastura Ahmad), who provides a Jiminy Cricketesque presence for him, but even her boyfriend exists only on the blurry fringes of the frame. Everything about Apprentice is brutally efficient as the Singapore prison system.

The word 'gallows' is too elegant a word for what it describes. The journey across the double 'l's' over the 'o' and into the curve of the 'w' doesn't do justice to the trip the inmate takes from his cell to the door in the floor. Their Lord provides them comfort, but their legs often desert them and they need to be supported down the hallway,. But once the hood is on, it's mercifully quick. The Chief pulls the lever and we hear the snap right where it should for a perfectly executed execution.

Modern societies like to think they have evolved beyond the brutality of capital punishment, but this film doesn't make it a political discussion. Instead it's a personal question for the characters. When Aiman wonders whether one of the prisoners deserves to die for 'only' drug trafficking, The Chief isn't affronted because of his political or philosophical views, he takes it as an attack on his very existence. He has prided himself on fulfilling a vital role and doing it to the best of his ability. The rights and wrongs are not for him to decide.

While the characters don't spend too much time discussing the moral question of capital punishment, it's impossible for the audience to ignore. From the angle that Director Boo gives us, we often see the guards through windows and bars making them look a lot like prisoners themselves. But while they get to leave they are still tethered, only really free for the hours between their shifts, and even then it appears that the horrible shadow of the noose has them living like prisoners anyway.

Reviewed by Sameir Ali 8 / 10

A Realistic Dark Drama

There are only a few films dealing with Hangmen. "Shadow Kill (2002) is such a film.

The film do not go though the usual cliché plots. This is entirely different.

A young correctional officer, Aiman is transferred to a top prison. Capital punishment by hanging is being conducted in that prison. He meets an executioner, Rahim, who was doing this job for more than 30 years. Aiman's father was executed by Rahim. This leads to tense drama in the movie. But, there is nothing obvious. There is a high tension, but it is subtle. There are emotions of the prisoners who are going to be hanged, their relationship with the executioner.

The only support of Aiman was his sister Suhaila. His loneliness in life is clearly depicted in the movie. It is very clear when we see the only contact in his mobile was Suhaila.

A very dark emotional drama, clean from all the cliché plots. A freezing end.

Highly recommended for those who are looking for different movies. A must watch.


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