Original film title in Malay: Pendekar Bujang Lapok
English title: The Bachelor Warriors
Directed by P. Ramlee
Written by Madji Lee
(we suspect that the story might have been jointly written by S. Sudarmadji [‘Madji’] and P. Ramlee [‘Lee’])
Starring: P. Ramlee, S. Shamsuddin, Aziz Sattar, Roseyatimah
Produced by Malay Film Productions (Shaw Bros.)
Kranji (Sungei Buloh, Johor Straits)
PENDEKAR BUJANG LAPOK IS SOMEWHAT LIKE A SEQUEL to the earlier P. Ramlee comedy film Bujang Lapok of 1957. The three “over-aged bachelors” descended from Bujang Lapok – Ramli, Aziz and Shamsudin – are still unmarried and easygoing, but this time round, they are more focused on a singular task: to learn ‘silat’ (the Malay art of self-defence) from a master named Mustar Pinang Sebatang. But, there are some distractions from the task at hand, of course; there’s a love interest in the form of Rose, the silat master’s daughter, who is a teacher at the local kampong school. The trio also takes time off to sing, crack jokes, tease each other (while imparting moral lessons to the movie audience) and join a beginner Jawi class that is instructed by Rose.
For us, the major highlight of Pendekar Bujang Lapok is the ‘jetty’ scene at the film’s beginning (shot on location at the Johor Straits, around the vicinity of the mangrove swamps at Sungei Buloh, Kranji). The three “bujang lapok warriors” are in a long queue for sampan ferries to cross the straits, so as to reach the kampong where the silat master lives. The crowd at the jetty grows rowdy and the jetty gangster-staff get physical, leading to a wild but delightful punch-up that ends with the underprivileged pugilists and commoners trouncing the rich jetty owner and his cronies.
The Sungei Buloh vicinity around where the ‘jetty’ scene was filmed used to host many prawn farming ponds that were set up in the mangroves and tidal coastlines of the area (now part of the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve; Sungei Buloh means ‘bamboo river’ in Malay). The traditional method of prawn farming entailed the building of embankments around brackish waters where prawns would spawn, with sluice gates controlling the exchange of water in the pond with those from the sea (seawater with wild prawn larvae in it). Those traditional prawn ponds that once thrived in the middle of the last century were progressively abandoned until there were only ten left when the government made plans in the late 1980s to preserve the Sungei Buloh region as a natural bird sanctuary under the suggestion of the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch; since renamed ‘Nature Society (Singapore)’ in 1991). The abandoned prawn ponds were found to be good breeding and feeding grounds for migratory birds, and the existing sluice gates had helped to make the ponds flooded or less tidal, thus enabling the birds to feed on the mudflats.
1. ‘Luchu, tapi mengandong tiga pengertian besar’. Berita Harian. 16 January 1959, p. 7.
2. Amir Muhammad, 120 Malay Movies (pp. 169-71). Petaling Jaya: Matahari Books, 2010.
3. Sungei Buloh Nature Park. Singapore Infopedia. National Library Board, 2005.
4. Lim Haw Chuen and Colleen Goh, ‘Prawn Farming at Sungei Buloh Nature Park’. WETland Vol. 5 No. 1, April 1998. Singapore: Sungei Buloh Nature Park.
5. ‘Bird lovers submit proposals for 300-ha nature reserve’. The Straits Times. 14 December 1987, p. 14.
6. ‘Strictly for the birds.’ The Straits Times. 19 February 1989, p. 14.
© 1959 Malay Film Productions
© 2002 Music Valley
Digital Map Source:
Great Britain. Ordnance Survey, Singapore Island, National Library of Australia, MAP G8040 1941. [http://nla.gov.au/nla.map-vn1900708]
© 2014 Toh Hun Ping