In Competition for the White Mulberry Award for First Time Director
Coast Guard Malaysia: Ops Helang
Malaysia, 2023, 90’, Malay
Directed by: Pitt Hanif
Screenplay: Jason Chong, Tommy Loh, Puovin Sandera
Photography (color): Sham Bin Mokhtar
Editing: Hapil Zan Mazlan, Anand R.
Music: Donald Bangkong, Reza Ramsey
Producers: Arie Zaharie, Muhammad Hady Yusry Makmor, Rozita Mat Isa, Azlan Zaharie
Cast: Saharul Ridzwan (Leftenan Hafiz), Julia Farhana Marin (Leftenan Melati), Sabri Yunus (Amir), Adlin Aman Ramlee (Samad), Aziz M. Osman (Rahmat), Sherie Merlis (Khatijah), Jaja Iliyes (Nurul), Hazama Azmi (Kadok)
Date of First Release in Territory: February 2nd, 2023
In Coast Guard Malaysia: Ops Helang, Malaysian action cinema tackles new ground. With the involvement of the various branches of the military, there have already been Malaysian actioners set on land and in the skies, but this 2023 release moves the action onto the ocean, as Ops Helang was made with official support from the local coastguard to ensure that its action sequences would be accurate. Protagonist Hafiz is a coast guard lieutenant who at the beginning of the film we find participating in a complex operation to stop a gang of smugglers disguised as regular fishermen. The tone of the film is clearly established right from the off as, with the support of the tense, bombastic score, the direction and editing zoom in on the action, simultaneously framing the coastguard agents and their adversaries, the boats on which they travel and also the (beautiful) landscapes in which events take shape: a simple but effective recipe.
The real plot of the film, however, kicks in when Hafiz takes a vacation with his girlfriend Nurul. While they’re at a party, a group of violent bandits suddenly burst in and take all present hostage, threatening bystanders with death. The real target of the raid, however, is Hafiz, who the swindlers want to abduct as revenge for the anti-smuggling op. But the abduction will reveal a disconcerting and disturbing hidden truth.
Coast Guard Malaysia: Ops Helang is an excellent example of the mainstream productions that Malaysian audiences have favoured for years: a lean, no-nonsense story and characters split with Manichean precision between good and evil, all presented in a professional package that highlights the production assets available. And which elicited very positive results at the local box office, where it took over five million ringgit. Unfortunately, the film’s director was unable to enjoy the positive response: the film was in fact shot in 2019 but Pitt Hanif (screenwriter of One Two Jaga, presented at FEFF 2018) passed away before production was completed. The producers completed his work, however, and finally, after the difficult period of cinema closures during the pandemic, brought Coast Guard Malaysia: Ops Helang to theatres in tribute to the memory of the late Pitt Hanif.
Pitt Hanif was a film and television screenwriter, best known for penning the screenplay of One Two Jaga (2018). He died in a boating accident in October 2019. Coast Guard Malaysia: Ops Helang is his first and only film as a director. Released theatrically in Malaysia in 2023, it enjoyed solid commercial success.
2023 – Coast Guard Malaysia: Ops Helang (2023)