My desired film adaptation of the Hang Tuah vs Hang Jebat folklore

Two days away from National Day, I shall join the patriotism bandwagon keep with the flow and make the entries of the next few days Malaysian-centered even though I am in foreign soil.

I've always wanted to make a Hang Tuah movie because they are accessible to Malaysian audiences. After all, anyone who didn't forget about their secondary education can definitely remember this guy, and the release of high-profile Puteri Gunung Ledang last year helped too (though by how much, I don't know). So yeah, the most effective method for me to sell out is to make a movie about this famous folk hero. To those who are unaware of Hang Tuah, here's his info from Wikipedia.

Hang Tuah was a legendary Malay hero during the Sultanate of Malacca in the 14th century. He was the greatest Laksamana, or Admiral of the Sultan, and a ferocious fighter. As youths, Hang Tuah and his four companions, Hang Jebat, Hang Kasturi, Hang Lekir, and Hang Lekiu, killed a band of pirates and two people who had run amok at a village causing havoc. The Bendahara (equivalent to Prime Minister in modern terms) of Malacca spotted their talent and recruited them to work in the palace.

During his work at the palace, Hang Tuah killed a Javanese fighter known as Taming Sari who was under the rule of the Majapahit Empire and was presented with a Keris - an ancient, but lethal, weapon. The keris was named "Taming Sari", after his owner and was believed it would empower its owner with invincibility.

Hang Tuah was later accused of adultery with the King's maid, and in a hasty decision, the King sentenced the innocent Laksamana to death. However, the death sentence was never carried out, instead Hang Tuah was sent to a remote place to hide by the Bendahara.

Believing Hang Tuah to be dead, Hang Tuah's companion, Hang Jebat, furiously launched a revengeful rebellion against the King, forcing the entire population into chaos. The King regretted sentencing Hang Tuah to death, since he was the only person capable of killing Hang Jebat. Eventually, the Bendahara recalled Hang Tuah from his hiding place and was given full amnesty by the King. After seven days of fighting, Hang Tuah managed to reclaim his Taming Sari from Hang Jebat, and killed him in close combat. Shortly after his closest companion's death, Hang Tuah disappeared and was never seen again.

Hang Tuah is famous for the quote : "Ta' Melayu Hilang di-Dunia" which literally means "The Malay race will never vanish".

Riveting stuff eh?

Originally, I wanted to make a shlockfest where Hang Tuah is resurrected from the dead to kill people, ala Freddy Krueger or Jason style. Lots of blood and stuff involved. Campy b-movie stuff.

Thus I came up with another idea. To do MY version of the Hang Jebat vs Hang Tuah story. You see, I've never been a fan of Hang Tuah, feeling that he's merely the imperial lapdog who didn't have the ability to make decisions for himself. Hell, I despise people like that. I think he would really go eat his own poo if the Sultan ask him to. Unlike Hang Jebat, a manly, courageous, honourable man who was willing to do anything just to prove a point. A man of his own principles... like me.

Therefore, my version of this folklore will be different, it will be like Infernal Affairs. With Hang Tuah being the Andy Lau character and Hang Jebat being the tragic Tony Leung character. So, here you go:


While serving the Sultan, Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat were the finest warriors among the 'Five Malay Musketeers', and best of friends as well. However, Hang Tuah was secretly serving a dark sect committed to causing the downfall of the Empire, he was a mole, the one feeding valuable information of the imperial palace for an evil cause. Hang Jebat knew about this, and he was asked to investigate Hang Tuah.

Alas, Hang Tuah was a skirtchaser, a lecherous bastard, he was found having an affair with the Sultan's maid, which pissed the Sultan off verily. Sultan ordered the execution of Hang Tuah. Of course, the death sentence was never carried out as the wise Bendahara, who was in cahoots with Hang Tuah, had whisked him to somewhere safe.

But Hang Jebat was angry. All his efforts in investigating the dark sect Hang Tuah was working for were ruined because of the impulsive actions of the Sultan. Thus, with the suggestion of the other 'musketeers' (Hang Lekiu, Hang Lekir and Hang Kasturi), Hang Jebat had to pretend that he was going to the 'Dark Side' by launching a vengeful attack against the Sultan, to avenge his deceased 'friend'. At the same time, he was hoping that his actions could attract the attention of Hang Tuah's dark sect, that they would approach him and made him their member.

Alas, even though he managed to seize hold of the palace, his plans couldn't work. The ruthless Bendahara played mind games with Hang Jebat by tossing the rest of the musketeers off a building, and onto er, a trishaw, thus killing anyone who knew Jebat's true motive and identity. At the same time, the Bendahara brought Hang Tuah back to the Sultan, convincing him that only Hang Tuah could kill him.

At the same time, a subtle 'Lost in Translation' style romance would develop between the desperate and angst-ridden Hang Jebat and one of the king's concubines (a nod to one of the theories that Hang Jebat seized hold of the palace because of a Sultan's concubine, and not because of Hang Tuah).

The Sultan granted Hang Tuah full amnesty and sent him to kill Hang Jebat. We will see Hang Jebat sitting at the Sultan's throne, waiting for Hang Tuah to come in. While being in the palace, Hang Jebat had managed to seize hold of some valuable evidence that could prove Hang Tuah's affiliation to the dark sect. That he was THE traitor.

But who would believe him? Hang Tuah snickered at Hang Jebat. He had the love and support of the entire empire, while Jebat was widely regarded as the 'bad guy'. Both Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat drew their twin kerises and started fighting.

The entire Malacca watched their titanic battle for supremacy unfold at the roof of the palace. Both displaying insane swordfighting skillz! But Hang Jebat had the upper hand and he could've easily delivered the killing blow, but mercy stayed his hand. After all, Hang Tuah was still his best friend, despite his sins, there was no way he could kill him. Killing him would complete his descent to evil. He didn't want that to happen.

The Bendahara appeared, nodding sagely at Hang Jebat's choice, and praising him for his efforts in exposing Hang Tuah's agenda... then, as Hang Jebat was about to relax, the wily old man stabbed Jebat with a dagger, sending him lying on the ground in agony. After that, the Bendahara asked Hang Tuah to kill Hang Jebat, and be remembered in history as a hero forever. Otherwise, Hang Tuah's secret identity would be known to the whole empire, and this time, the old man wouldn't help him escape anymore.

Fearing that his heroic legacy would be tainted, Hang Tuah immediately did what the old man said, and killed Hang Jebat. Much angst ensued. Hang Tuah may have been remembered a hero forever, and Hang Jebat, a villain. Yet... yet he couldn't wrestle away from the guilt that grip him. He retired from the imperial guards not so soon after.

And was murdered by assassins sent by his dark sect. His body was never found again.


Popular posts from this blog

Cinema Paradiso. Original vs New Version

The Short Fiction of Yukio Mishima

Karayuki-san: The forgotten Japanese prostitution era