Barbarian Invasion

  • 106'
  • Malaysia
  • 2021

Is it a comedy? An action film? A philosophical treatise? Barbarian Invasion is all of these, even if it starts off quietly – timidly almost. Li Yoon Moon drags her young son around with her; the sole purpose of his existence seems to be to exhaust his mother. She arrives to visit someone who at first seems to be an old friend, but we soon realise he is actually a director looking to cast her for his latest project. Are we going to make a Hong Sang-soo film, she asks? He’s more interested in a Malaysian Bourne Identity, and asks her to undertake three months of intensive martial arts training for the role.

The film goes through several surprising changes of direction and tone, all of which are however coloured by an extremely dry sense of humour. There are musings on how the film industry treats actresses, as well as on Eastern philosophy. If you look closely, you might catch a glimpse of Deleuze & Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia on a bookshelf. The composition of the book is rooted in the concept of rhizomatic philosophy – where different elements interact together to form a single entity – which is mirrored in the film's structure: from island to island.

Director
Tan Chui Mui
Countries of production
Malaysia, Hong Kong
Production Year
2021
Festival Edition
IFFR 2022
Length
106'
Medium
DCP
Languages
Chinese, Malay, Cantonese
Producers
Woo Ming Jin, Bianca Balbuena
Production Company
Da Huang Pictures
Sales
The Hong Kong International Film Festival Society
Screenplay
Tan Chui Mui
Cinematography
Gwai Lou
Editor
Wong Kai Yun
Production Design
Yi Lim Fish Jing
Sound Design
Akritchalerm Kalayanamitr
Music
Kamal Sabran
Cast
Peter Teo, Tan Chui Mui, Bront Palarae, James Lee, Wai Hoong Wong, Zhiny Ooi, Nik Hadiff Dani