IMHO, the greatest Malaysian movie ever made is Perempuan, Isteri dan … (1993).
Directed by U-Wei Hj Saari, it won 5 awards at the 1994 Malaysian Film Festival, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay.
IMDB user amirmu summarised the plot as follows:
Zaleha is about to get married to Amir but elopes to southern Thailand to marry someone else instead. The enraged Amir tracks the couple down, kills the groom and sells Zaleha to a pimp. Six months later, Amir brings her back. She tricks him into marrying her. But the six months Zaleha spent as a prostitute have changed her, and she now wants revenge.
In my original review dated April 2000, I had written:
Dare I say it: without a doubt, this is it. The best bar none, P Ramlee’s classics included. Good enough for a nomination for the Academy Awards for best foreign film.
None of the usual overacting (eg Haliza Misbun in Scoop), melodrama overload (eg, Chef Wan’s attempt at crying in that forgettable nightmare of a film), stupid sidekicks (eg, Mr Os), totally unfunny “funneymen” (eg, AR Badul in “Panglima Badul”) even worse script and plain miscasting.
The last time I saw a Malay film in a cinema is in 1990 (forgot the title – after which I promised myself never to put myself through that misery again. Then I saw this on TV and my faith in Malay films somewhat restored, even though I was still in disbelief – Malaysians can make quality films at last!
I had exactly the same feeling when I watched “Fire”, the best Indian film of all time. Forget Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, that’s for romantics, “Fire” and “Perempuan, Isteri &…” are for real movie buffs.
No slouching here, everything is tense, tight and I thought danger was imminent everywhere.
Congratulations to everyone involved.
The whole movie is apparently available on youtube (albeit in low quality), it starts as follows:
For the record, the second greatest Malaysian movie ever made is this.