The future of Malaysian animation looks brighter than ever.
Legend Of Ancient Borneo is an animated short film produced by All-For-One Productions, but what’s most notable about it is that it’s actually the first-ever animated film fully in Kadazan. The story is based on a comic created by two Malaysians; Robertson Sondoh Jr and Kwan Thung Seng. It was also the grand prize winner of the Intellectual Property Creators’ Challenge (IPCC) 2018 organized by Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).
Running at just a little under nine minutes long, the Legend Of Ancient Borneo short film is straightforward and concise, but it’s extremely impressive how much the production team has managed to cram so much meaningful content in such a short timeframe.
Based on local folklore in Sabah, Legend Of Ancient Borneo is more complex than it looks like at first glance.
At first, Legend Of Ancient Borneo seems like it’s simply about a bunch of villagers with mystical powers trying to reclaim a holy relic called the Sacred Dragon Skull from a group of evil reptilian creatures who look like anthropomorphic crocodiles. There are four of them, consisting of a man with super strength, a girl who has super breath, a woman who can manipulate fire, and a man with super speed.
Together, they chase down the reptilian humanoids, which results in an extended action scene. It’s definitely praiseworthy and pretty exciting to watch, as we get to see more of the four villagers’ superhuman abilities in action and it even culminates in an epic boss battle of sorts against the largest crocodile creature. I personally liked witnessing the super speed dude whizzing around with his spear, which looked impressive.
Then, just when I thought it was all over and I had the ending all figured out, Legend Of Ancient Borneo surprised me with a plot twist and revelation that subverts the entire story, as well as the motivations of the heroes.
I won’t spoil what happens, but it’s a great ending that makes the short film more than just another good versus evil story by subverting popular stereotypes and tropes in tales of legends like these.
As for the animation quality of the short film, it’s totally unrealistic to expect something near the levels of Disney or Pixar. Still, Legend Of Ancient Borneo is still beautiful in motion, particularly its detailed environments and backgrounds, not to mention the action scenes, all of which are further accentuated and made even better thanks to the epic music and score.
The Legend Of Ancient Borneo short film is certainly a labour of love and a testament to the hard work from the folks at All-For-One Productions for attempting something as ambitious as this. According to animation producer Geoffrey Sinn (via The Star), they are currently working to develop Legend of Ancient Borneo into a TV series.
If the Legend Of Ancient Borneo short film is any indication, then, by all means, we should support their efforts.
Diverse and distinctive content like this not only bodes well for the animation industry, but it’s also essential to make us stand out in the eyes of the world.
Check out the Legend Of Ancient Borneo short film in its full glory below.