IT may have been made 12 years ago but Dukun, said to be loosely based on the trial of bomoh Mona Fandey who was convicted of dismembering politician Datuk Mazlan Idris in 1993, is finally screened with minimal changes, to the delight of fans.
Dukun revolves around two main characters — Datin Seri Umie Aida as ruthless bomoh Diana Dahlan (the titular dukun) and her depressed, single-parent lawyer Karim, played by Faizal Hussein.
Award-winning director Dain Said (who later made Bunohan with Faizal and Interchange with Indonesia’s Nicolas Saputra) presents Diana’s trial through the eyes of two parties — police investigators ASP Talib (Namron) and Inspector Shah (Bront Palarae), who dig up the dismembered body of victim Datuk Jeffri Jailani (Adlin Aman Ramlie); and Karim, who defends the accused.
Karim is searching for his missing teenage daughter Nadia (Elyana Emrizal) and will do anything to get her back. When Diana promises she can find Nadia, Karim agrees to be her lawyer and do whatever she wants.
The story starts with a joyous Diana dressed in a kebaya and all dolled up while waiting for her sentence in jail.
It then shows a flashback to the early 1960s, and we learn all about her murder weapon — the tongkat sakti originates from the Batak community of North Sumatra, Indonesia and was retrieved in a revolt of bomoh against President Sukarno’s government.
The next scene has Talib and Shah finding Jeffri’s dismembered body and it is realistically gruesome — his detached head looks believable, petrifying audiences for a good few minutes.
Diana is no regular bomoh; she is beautiful, glamorous, seductive and confident. With a character like this in the hands of the versatile Umie, she will be etched in cinemagoers’ memories for a long time.
Licking the walls of her prison cell and crawling around like a deranged witch, her creepiness is overbearing. The same can be said of her work scenes where she performs blood-curdling rituals while chanting strange spells.
The actress, who found fame in patriotic drama Embun 16 years ago, has gone all out to give her best, sending chills down our spines. She deserves an award for best actress in a thriller anytime.
Throughout the film, one can feel the madness inside Diana’s soul. She is frighteningly evil but we grudgingly admire her confidence and courage in the face of death — this is a woman no man messes with.
Faizal holds his own as Karim, an honest man who juggles between his career as a lawyer and a father to his rebellious daughter.
Putting up a good fight to defend Diana, he finds himself increasingly drawn into her macabre world as she is the only person who knows the whereabouts of Nadia.
Equally tragic, the bomoh has had something to do with the death of his wife (Avaa Vanja Ramli) shortly after Nadia’s birth.
Faizal and Umie make a great team, personifying good versus evil respectively throughout the show.
As for the supporting characters, Namron is a scene-stealer as the sarcastic, no-nonsense Talib, while Bront provides the perfect foil for his boss as the wisecracking, football-crazy Inspector.
The special effects and sound effects are major winners. They look refreshingly up-to-date and realistic, even though the movie was completed a decade ago. Kudos to the skilful production team!
Dain and producer Astro Shaw have taken great pains to make Dukun different from Mona’s story.
To emphasise this point, they have made evil Diana a single woman who operates her business with help from two eerie henchmen Danni (Hasnul Rahmat) and Fadzli (Sofi Jikan).
Also, Jeffri is portrayed as a single, young businessman instead of a married, middle-aged politician.
In a nutshell, Dukun is a winner, thanks to Dain’s superb cinematography and the cast’s stellar performances.
Dukun will definitely go down in history as one of our country’s best thrillers, its legendary status almost assured.
As for the hauntingly beautiful theme song Merana Jiwa, Umie and Elyana deliver it with gusto, in red hot kebayas.