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Bunohan(Film) Key Art Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDain Iskandar Said
Produced byNandita Solomon
Written byDain Iskandar Said
StarringFaizal Hussein
Zahiril Adzim
Pekin Ibrahim
Bront Palarae
Nam Ron
Soffi Jikan
Music byTan Yan Wei
CinematographyJarin Pengpanich
Edited byHK Panca
Apparat Sdn. Bhd.[1]
Distributed byUniversal Pictures, Oscilloscope
Release date
  • 8 March 2012 (2012-03-08)
Running time
97 minutes
Kelantan Malay
Box officeRM 780,000

Bunohan (also under the international title of Bunohan: Return to Murder) is a Malaysian drama thriller film, written and directed by Dain Iskandar Said and released in Malaysia on 8 March 2012. The film features actors Faizal Hussein, Zahiril Adzim and Pekin Ibrahim in leading roles. Bunohan is the second film to be directed by Dain Said. Bunohan had its world premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival where it was praised for its solid, visceral storytelling and arresting photography.

Bunohan won NETPAC Award at the 2011 Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival.[2] The film was selected as Malaysia's official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film nomination for the 85th Academy Awards in February 2013, but it did not make the final shortlist.[3] This is the second film to be submitted to the Academy Award since Puteri Gunung Ledang in 2004.

Bunohan received thirteen nominations for the 25th Malaysia Film Festival and won eight awards, including the five major categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Story, Best Screenplay and Best Actor/Actress, the first time since 2003's KL Menjerit[4][5] while being the second most awarded film on the Malaysia Film Festival of all time after Layar Lara. The film also earned four Anugerah Skrin nominations, winning the categories for Best Picture and Best Screenplay, while being nominated for Best Director (Dain Said) and the Best Actor (Faizal Hussein) categories.

The film joins a few other Malaysian films including Jogho (1997), Wayang (2008) and Budak Kelantan (2008) which gives an emphasis on the lives of people of the east coast state of Kelantan, either residing in it or migrated elsewhere across the country.


The film primarily takes place in the rural Malaysian town of Bunohan, which is located close to the Thai border. Adil (Zahiril Adzim) is a young kick-boxer who has fallen deeply into debt, with little hope of paying his creditors honestly. In desperation, Adil agrees to an illegal high-stakes death match at a boxing club on the other side of the border, but in the midst of the fight, with Adil losing badly, his best friend Muski (Amerul Affendi) bursts into the ring and breaks up the match, dragging Adil away. This upsets the promoters of the fight, and Adil and Muski return to Bunohan, where Adil was born and raised. The promoter of the fight sends a hired killer, llham (Faizal Hussein), to find and execute Adil.

Ilham reluctantly goes to Bunohan. It is then revealed that he was born and raised in Bunohan, but left many years ago. Upon returning, memories of loneliness and abandonment flood his mind, and he experiences waves of resentment and regret. As Ilham narrows his focus on his target, he learns that he and the fugitive boxer are actually half-brothers. He then finds his mother's grave in a piece of land near the beach and starts digging for her remains to give her a proper burial. However, he later finds out that his estranged family is planning to sell the land to a large corporation from the city for a huge amount of money. He goes all out to prevent this from happening.

Meanwhile, after making his way back to his father's home in Bunohan, Adil discovers his long-lost elder brother Bakar (Pekin Ibrahim) has returned to look after their ailing father. Bakar, a successful young school teacher from the city has left his comfortable home in urban Kuala Lumpur and has also come home. Ostensibly a highly educated and respectable young man, he is in reality a greedy and ruthless person, but his motives are not benevolent. Bakar is determined to claim ownership of his father's land, and has plans that will bring disrespect to his family and community. He is determined to convince his father to sell the burial ground to the construction company.


  • Zahiril Adzim as Adil
  • Faizal Hussein as Ilham
  • Pekin Ibrahim as Bakar
  • Bront Palarae as Deng
  • Nam Ron as Pok Wah
  • Wan Hanafi Su as Pok Eng
  • Tengku Azura as Mek Yah
  • Amerul Affendi as Muski
  • Soffi Jikan as Awang Sonar
  • Hushairy Hussain as Jolok
  • Jimmy Lor as Jing
  • Ho Yuhang as Cina Burung
  • Carliff Carleel as Chart
  • Mat Seman as Bakri
  • Md Eyzendy as Gasi


According to the official production notes released by film company Apparat, the film was originally given the title Bunga Lalang (Malay: weed flower), referring to character Adil's ring name. It eventually earned its final title of Bunohan as Dain Said encounters the name of the village - situated near the town of Pengkalan Kubor on Kelantan's border with Thailand[6] - during his research, reacting as if he has never heard of the word before (notably, how it reminded him of the word pembunuhan, or 'murder' in Malay).[7]

Dain wrote the screenplay in the span of the 2 years, from 2008 to 2009. Some of the more intricate details of in the setting and narrative of this film, were driven by his childhood memories of growing up in a kampung near said real-life place, as he explains in an interview with magazine FilmMaker:

I grew up with my sisters and parents, near this place called Kampung Bunohan, or Murder or Killing Village, which is the setting of our film, up north close to the border of Southern Thailand, where my father was a cop. It was at the end of the railway line, a two-horse town. The border meant nothing, people just cross it like they were crossing a road. It still happens today actually. There’s a strong reminder of the way American directors, (such as Sam Peckingpah [sic] and others), in the 60’s and after, who treat Mexico as a mythological paradise for gangsters, misfits and non-conformists. In this part of the world my father told me stories, where violence was prevalent. And the main characters are based on people I knew, such as the kickboxer Adil, and in particular Ilham the assassin, based on someone whom I met in early 2000.[8]

Apparat initially had difficulties in finding adequate resources for film funding and production had to be delayed for a year while waiting for the loan to be processed. The National Film Development Corporation approved a loan after Apparat successfully pitched their idea to the former. The project went into execution after another bank approved a loan that provided special schemes for film financing.[9]

Swamp and tidal movement were the biggest challenges in picking the natural elements for the background, considering that the filming took place in locations across the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia where the region is prone to floods and expected monsoon seasons. Dain gave credit to his team who had went through various challenges to produce beautiful cinematography for the entire film.[8]


Theatrical release[edit]

Bunohan was released on Malaysian theaters on 8 March 2012, after a critically acclaimed response by audiences in several international film festival which played the film previous years, including Fantastic Fest in 2011 plus the Palm Springs and Asean Film Festivals in 2012.[10]

It won the NETPAC Award at the 2011 Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival and has been picked by Universal Pictures for distribution in major markets including Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany and UK.[2] The distribution there started after Traction Media, a Los Angeles based sales company has acquired the rights to handle the sale of Northern American film market by working with Arclight Films via its Asia-focused division, Easternlight Films.[11] Oscilloscope Laboratories also has also acquired North American rights to Bunohan.[12]

Regions International Premiere Film Host
World Premiere Toronto International Film Festival
Asian Premiere Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival
Latin American Premiere Sao Paolo International Film Festival
European Premiere Rotterdam International Film Festival


Bunohan was the recipient of a Netpac Award at the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival[13] and the Golden Hanoman at the 9th Netpac Asian Film Festival (JAFF) held in Yogyakarta.[14] To date, Bunohan has won 8 accolades awarded by 25th Malaysian Film Festival, 3 from the Kuala Lumpur Film Critics Society Awards and two from the Anugerah Skrin 2012.

Ceremony Category Recipient(s) Results
85th Academy Awards Best Foreign Language Film Dain Said (Malaysia's entry) Not Nominated
6th Asian Pacific Screen Awards[15] Achievement In Cinematography Charin Pengpanich Nominated
55th Asia Pacific Film Festival[16][17] Best Picture Apparat Sdn. Bhd Nominated
Best Director Dain Said Nominated
25th Malaysia Film Festival[18][19] Best Picture Apparat Sdn. Bhd Won
Best Director Dain Said Won
Best Actor Faizal Hussien Won
Pekin Ibrahim Nominated
Zahiril Adzim Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Husyairi Husain Nominated
Amirul Affendi Nominated
Best Screenplay Dain Said Won
Best Story Dain Said Won
Best Original Score Tan Yan Wei Won
Best Production Design Dain Said Won
Best Sound Editing Raja Ahmad Shahidaly Won
Best Poster Design Apparat Sdn. Bhd Nominated
Anugerah Skrin 2012[20][21][22] Best Film Apparat Sdn. Bhd Won
Best Screenplay Dain Said Won
Best Director Dain Said Nominated
Best Actor Faizal Hussein Nominated
Kuala Lumpur Film Critics Society Awards 2012[23] Best Director Dain Said Won
Best Actor Faizal Hussein Won
Best Supporting Actor Wan Hanafi Su Nominated
Pekin Ibrahim Nominated
Hushairy Hussein Won
Best Screenplay Dain Said Nominated


  1. ^ APPARAT official website, APPARAT official website.
  2. ^ a b "Malaysia film "Bunohan" wins NETPAC award". Citizen Journalists Malaysia. Retrieved 2017-11-03.
  3. ^ Weisman, Jon (8 October 2012). "Foreign-language Oscar entries set record". Variety. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  4. ^ Atak, Feride Hikmet (3 March 2013). "'Bunohan' Bolot 5 Trofi FFM25". mStar Online (in Malay). Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  5. ^ "Filem Bunohan bolot 3 anugerah pertama pada FFM Ke-25". Utusan Online (in Malay). 27 February 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  6. ^ "Bunohan jadi tarikan pada PRK Pengkalan Kubor" [Bunohan becomes attraction for the Pengkalan Kubor by-elections]. Astro Awani (in Malay). 14 September 2014. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  7. ^ "Bunohan Prod Notes Dec 2011 Eng". apparation.com. Malaysia: Apparat Film. December 23, 2011. Retrieved November 3, 2017. The idea of BUNOHAN had been germinating in Dain’s head for a long time. Originally the working title of the film was Bunga Lalang, the fighting nickname for Adil. In the course of his research, Dain met some guys in Kelantan who told him to go to place called “Bunohe” – as they say in Kelantanese. Startled with disbelief, he recounts doing double take: “’There’s a place called Bunohan (meaning murder)?’ I asked. They said ‘Yes, Kampung Bunohan.’ It was really fitting.
  8. ^ a b Macaulay, Scott. "Five Questions with Bunohan Director Dain Said". FilmMaker. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  9. ^ "Bunohan Prod Notes Dec 2011" (Press release). Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Apparat Sdn Bhd. December 23, 2011. Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  10. ^ "Easternlight Films". arclightfilms.com. Retrieved 2017-11-03.
  11. ^ "Bunohan gains Traction, sells to Universal". Screen. Retrieved 2017-11-03.
  12. ^ "OSCILLOSCOPE ACQUIRES MALAYSIAN HIT FILM 'BUNOHAN: RETURN TO MURDER' «  Oscilloscope". www.oscilloscope.net. Retrieved 2017-11-03.
  13. ^ http://ecentral.my/news/story.asp?file=/2011/11/24/movies/20111124205223&sec=movies[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ Raziatul Hanum A. Rajak (27 January 2013). "Pelakon harap Bunohan diiktiraf sewajarnya". Sinar Harian (in Malay). Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  15. ^ "Nominees & Winners 2012". Asia Pacific Screen Academy. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014.
  16. ^ Chua, Dennis (27 November 2012). "5 Malaysian films to enter the 55th APFF 2012". New Straits Times. Archived from the original on 27 November 2012.
  17. ^ http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2013/2/17/lifefocus/12710869[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ Ai (19 February 2013). "FFM 25 : Grand Brilliance Dominasi 'Anugerah Perdana' Melalui Filem Songlap". OHBULAN! (in Malay). Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  19. ^ Teoh El Sen (19 February 2013). "Bunohan, Songlap and 29 Februari competing for FFM25 titles". Astro Awani. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  20. ^ Nur Aqidah Azizi (10 November 2012). "'Bunohan' Wins Best Film Award". New Straits Times. Archived from the original on 14 November 2012.
  21. ^ "Anugerah Skrin 2012: 'Di Telapak Kaki Bonda', 'Bunohan' Terbaikkk!". Malaysian Digest (in Malay). 2012-11-10. Archived from the original on 2012-11-11.
  22. ^ Mohd Al Qayum Azizi (10 November 2012). "'Di Telapak Kaki Bonda' & 'Bunohan' Ungguli ASK 2012". mStar (in Malay). Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  23. ^ "Kuala Lumpur Film Critic Circle Awards". DramaticDurian. 2012-09-22. Retrieved 2016-06-10.

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