Bunohan: Return to Murder


Malaysian filmmaker Dain Said has a number of tricks up his sleeve, but Bunohan: Return to Murder suggests he’s yet to fully work out the kinks when it comes to performing them. Translated literally as “Murder: Return to Murder,” the repeated word being the name of the village where much of the action takes place, the story centers around a trio of estranged brothers (a kickboxer fleeing a death match, the hitman sent to find him, and a manipulative real-estate developer) whose homecoming is expectedly turbulent. Many a worthwhile filial drama has been dressed in similar genre clothing—Abel Ferrara’s underappreciated The Funeral, a New York-set tale of three troubled mafioso brothers, comes to mind—and Bunohan‘s blend of the violent (slit throats, MMA fights) and the fantastical (talking birds, ghost women) does display a certain thoughtfulness. But the lion’s share of dialogue is either willfully cryptic, hollowly sagacious, or both—”If we do right, the earth will give to us” being a prime example. This wouldn’t be a problem unto itself if such pearls of wisdom didn’t so often come in response to mundane questions. This obliqueness, at first a source of mild intrigue, eventually becomes too mumblingly obscure for its own good; most of what follows is admirable on a conceptual level but unmoving onscreen.