Naga? More like no-go.
As a kid, I fondly remember watching B-movie monster flicks whenever I had access to them, be they late-night movie channels like Cinemax, or bargain bin DVDs my family used to buy. They were cheap and entertaining, which was enough for me back then. Now I tend to spend my time with content that’s actually worth my time.
Thai film Nakee 2 reminds me a lot of those B-movies, as the plot structure and characters are virtually similar, albeit with the added spice of Southeast Asian flavour. While the poster may indicate romantic undertones (with its main star couple front and center), it’s more ridiculous and schlocky than the promotional material portrays.
B-Movie With Southeast Asian Flavor
The first thing that came to mind when I first saw the posters and trailers for Nakee 2 is a little-known fantasy monster movie Dragon Wars: D-War, which was the highest-budgeted South Korean movie of all time at the time of its release in 2007.
Despite its high budget and ambitious production, that movie ultimately felt more like an expensive B-movie instead of an A-list movie (which it was clearly aiming for). The same goes for Nakee 2, though it definitely had a much lower budget compared to Dragon Wars: D-War.
Nakee 2 begins like many B-movies (and even some A-list movies) do; by forcing some clunky exposition down the viewer’s throat to set up the movie. Years ago, there was a terrible war between the Nagas and the Garudas, when one of the former fell in love with a human. Typically, the inter-species romance is forbidden and tragic stuff happens.
It was too convoluted to take seriously, especially when it doesn’t even explain what Nagas and Garudas. The movie assumes that you already know who these mythological creatures are. Since I’m a Southeast Asian and a self-proclaimed history buff, I needed no introduction to Nagas and Garudas, but foreigners may find themselves at a loss.
Basically, Nagas are serpent snake-like beings while Garudas are often depicted as anthropomorphic birds. Both are considered divine. In Nakee 2, the denizens of the village in which the majority of the movie takes place in, worship the Nagas.
Nothing Can Be Taken Seriously
The premise in Nakee 2 is simple. Mysterious unexplainable deaths happen in a remote village, so an unbelievably young handsome hotshot inspector is sent to investigate. Villagers and even the local police turn out to be complete bumbling idiots, so things start to escalate when the inspector questions their beliefs.
Despite the fact that these villagers worship Nakee (the female Naga who fell in love with the human), they also believe that she is the perpetrator of all these murders. At the same time, they also think that a local girl (the protagonist’s love interest) is responsible for the murders, just because she interacted with these people before their deaths.
That’s how the dashing young inspector meets the girl and start falling in love, even while he’s in the middle of investigating her as a suspect in these murders. If you think that I’m spoiling too much of Nakee 2, you have nothing to worry about because a lot more bizarre stuff happens, which don’t make a lick of sense.
There’s even a Wicker Man-like moment near the end, where the villager’s sense of paranoia and mob mentality reaches a fever pitch. More stuff happens, and I kid you not, one particular scene was so utterly ridiculous and laughably out-of-left-field that my entire theatre erupted into laughter. I’m sure that the filmmaker intended for that scene to be epic and awe-inspiring, but it failed so hard.
If you’re here for the love story promised by the movie’s poster, be prepared for some utter disappointment. I’m not the best judge of romance but even I can see that the movie’s couple lacks any sort of chemistry. This is evident when they are in quiet moments together, which I have a bone to pick about.
There are several times in Nakee 2 when the inspector and the girl are sharing a scene together without doing or saying anything for uncomfortably long periods of time. They’re just sitting there staring at the distance, and in one scene, you can even literally hear the sound of crickets in the background.
Are these scenes supposed to be cute or meant to convey something? Because all I got was how awkward it all felt.
If there’s one thing I could praise about Nakee 2, it’s the visuals and CGI. Sure, it’s not on the same par of quality as Hollywood movies with US$200 million budgets like Godzilla: King Of The Monsters or Avengers Endgame. However, it’s not fair to expect those levels of sheer spectacle from a Southeast Asian movie.
In fact, Nakee 2 might be able to boast the best visuals and CGI in the region, though frankly there’s not really much competition to speak of. Still, it’s something that the filmmakers should be proud of, as I have yet to see this level of CGI quality from movies in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, or other countries in the region.
That said, the Nagas in the movie do look a bit too much like the dragons from Dragon Wars: D-War and even reminded me of Daenerys’ dragons in Game Of Thrones. They could have tried and injected more Southeast Asian features into the creature design to further differentiate them from other dragons or serpents in other media entertainment properties.
Be warned though. Just like any B-movie, all of this only comes at the very end of the movie.
If you’re looking for a mindless cheesy evening of entertainment, you can’t go wrong with some B-movie goodness and guilty pleasure from Nakee 2. Don’t expect more than a ridiculous plot and characters that you can laugh at, as well as some decent visuals for a Southeast Asia movie.
If you’re fine with that, go watch Nakee 2. If not, head to a Thai restaurant and have some Tomyam and Pad Thai. That way, you’ll leave feeling more satisfied and fulfilled.
FINAL RATING: 40/100
We received a special preview screening courtesy of TGV Cinemas. Nakee 2 will release in Malaysian cinemas on 18 July 2019.