Tombiruo Penunggu Rimba

DO not miss the beginning of this film. It depicts the origins of the titular Tombiruo, the lead character from a bestselling book series by Ramlee Awang Murshid.

Born with a horrific facial deformity, Tombiruo is abandoned as a baby and rescued by the hermit Pondoluo (Faisal Hussein), who raises him in the jungles of Sabah and gives him a mask to hide his face.

Years later, an adult Tombiruo (Zul) has become the protector of the jungle and its orang asli community. He also possesses some mystical powers.

A local construction company, which wants to build a dam in the area, plans to drive away the natives. Its men go around burning villages and attacking the people.

Tombiruo and Pondoluo try to fight these company's thugs. But when Pondoluo is killed, Tombiruo swears revenge.

The film begins impressively enough with the birth of Tombiruo. The emotional narration from the midwife who delivers him will give you goosebumps, and the visuals will knock your socks off, aided by a soundtrack that is perfect for the scene.

Unfortunately, the rest of the film fails to live up to the promise that set up in its first 10 minutes. After that great start, the film slowly descends into merely "good".

Still, it offers some impressive visuals, intense fight scenes and wonderful aerial shots. The film's biggest weakness is its dialogue, which is rigid, dry and dull.

However, by Malaysian standards, we can still stand tall and be proud of this product.

On the acting front, the buff Zul is convincing as the mysterious Tombiruo, who hides his pain and isolation behind a mask.

Unfortunately for him, Farid Kamil who plays the forest ranger Amiruddin, completely steals the show. Amiruddin mistakenly believes that Tombiruo is responsible for the death of his wife, and wants to kill him.

You can feel the pain and suffering his character goes through. In fact, his acting is so good the film should have been named Amiruddin instead of Tombiruo.

Nabila Husa is not bad as the nosy reporter Wan Suraya, who ultimately wants to help the man behind the wooden mask. My only complaint is that her spectacles seem glued to her face throughout the film, even during intense action scenes.

I really want to know where she gets them so I can buy a pair of new reading glasses from there!

The filmmakers have stated they want Tombiruo to be screened in countries where Malaysian films have never gone before.

Well, they have to bear in mind that if they want to achieve this dream, they need to do more than just give a fantastic 10-minute opening scene.

The entire film needs to be impressive from beginning to end, and sadly, Tombiruo falls short of this.

Cast: Zul Ariffin, Farid Kamil and Nabila Huda

Director: Seth Larney

E-Value: 6

Acting: 6

Plot: 6