Expectations are high for the upcoming Polis Evo 2 (PE2).
The original took in more than RM17mil in ticket sales and became the highest-earning local film of all-time back in 2015.
Surpassing the success of its original is one thing. But can the sequel also wrest back the top spot from recent local blockbusters who have sprinted ahead – Munafik 2 (RM37mil), Hantu Kak Limah (RM36mil) and Paskal (RM22mil)?
Zizan Razak – whose character is the jovial Inspector Sani who clashes with Shaheizy Sam’s ultra-serious Inspector Khai in Polis Evo – believes the success of PE2 means more than just numbers.
“Getting high returns is not the priority. I want people to be entertained and have an appreciation for the film. I don’t want to have a lot of ticket sales but have people saying the first one was better. That’s no use. Let people say, ‘Although the film didn’t sell well, the story was powerful.’
“Of course, if there’s both (quality storyline and high earnings), it’s a bonus.”
Its makers are pulling out all the stops and leaving nothing to chance.
Joel Soh, who co-directed PE2 with Andre Chiew, shares the great lengths the team went through to get the script right.
“In the original, we took a year to write the script, spending six hours each day. For PE2, we also took a year to write, but we spent 14 hours each day,” he says, adding there were seven writers with different specialities onboard, from tackling emotional sequences to writing action-packed moments.
Asked if being able to spend so much time and resources on the script feels like a luxury in the local film landscape, Soh offers: “I wouldn’t call it a luxury, I call it a necessity. If you want to make films that continue to push the envelope of local cinema, the way we execute has to change.”
Another way the film promises to be a grander affair is its international feel.
PE2 not only aims to win over Malaysians, the film hopes to capture the Indonesian market.
As such, Inspektor Sani and Khai go from taking on local drug kingpins in the original to facing off with a group of terrorists that has held some 200 people in a village hostage in the sequel.
The Malaysian special forces, with the help of reinforcements sent by the Indonesian government, work to stop the terrorists and hostages.
Soh talks about the challenges of writing a more international storyline.
“Police in different countries have different protocols to abide by. The biggest challenge is how to manoeuvre around these protocols realistically and fit them into the Sani and Khai story.
“This film is bigger this time around. There’s terrorism and hostage situations. So, how do you place two narcotic cops in situations where they cross paths with the special forces and the head of police?”
Another significant change in PE2 is the inclusion of prominent, strong female characters.
“The biggest mistake I made when writing the first film was that I created damsels in distress. I’m not proud of it. So when it came to the second film, I didn’t want to have damsels in distress,” Soh says.
Erra Fazira and Indonesia’s Raline Shah play highly-capable cops in the second film.
“I wanted to see female characters who are on par with male characters. For example, Erra is not just Sani and Khai’s boss, she’s one of the highest-ranking police in the country.”
Soh assures, though, there is “an undercurrent of romance” between the female and male characters.
But he is quick to point out: “That’s not the reason we wrote the female characters in. Writing them in as love interests would be equivalent to writing them as damsels in distress.”