New York Asian Film Festival ’18: Our Review Of ‘Dukun’

New York Asian Film Festival ’18: Our Review Of ‘Dukun’

Dukun is a legal, thriller-horror movie based on a high-profile case in Malaysia, where shaman Mona Fandey was charged with the murder of a politician (Datuk Mazlan Idris) in 1993. Director Dain Said sets the film five years after the shaman was sentenced to death in November 2001. To avoid any legal battles, Said has changed the villainess’ name to Diana Dahlan.

Dukun follows two principal characters – Umie Aida as Diana Dahlan or the dukun, and her lawyer, Karim, played by Faizal Hussein. Adlin Aman Ramlie plays the victim Dato Jeffri. The film starts with Diana looking fabulous, as she is waiting for her jail sentence. Said then creates a flashback to a time set decades before. As we travel back in time, so to speak, we learn about a ritual which will be relevant to the plot later on. We then go back to the present (1990s) to learn about the ‘hideous crime’ Diana is being sentenced for. We see the forensic team at her house literally putting victim’s pieces back together.

Back at the station, we see Karim trying to get help in finding his missing daughter. The woman at the counter tells him that if he takes Diana’s case, she’ll make sure to help with his missing daughter. Feeling desperate, and coerced, Karim accepts to be Diana’s lawyer. What unfolds throughout his time meeting Diana, preparing the case, and defending her in court, will keep your attentive wanting to see what will happen next. Towards the end, genre fans will not be disappointed.

Although Dukun was banned from release about 12 years ago, Said and team deliver an entertaining, interesting and relevant film. Aida and Hussein are cast perfectly in the leads. The minimal special effects work well, the story holds, and Aida’s performance is hauntingly mesmerizing.

  • Release Date: 7/13/2018
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Heidy has a love of fine art history, films, books, world issues, music and science, leading her to share her adventures on her website ( , and as a contributor at other outlets. She loves sharing the many happenings in Toronto and hopes people will go out and support the arts in any fashion possible.
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