Directed by Lu Min/ Reviewed by Antonio Rozich
In some Burmese villages, there’s the legend of Milk Ogre. Villagers believe if a woman is cursed by the milk ogre, she’s not able to feed her newborn child. If she does, the baby will die. To avoid the death of her newborn, the mother refuses to breastfeed and gives her newborn for adoption. Lu Min explored this strange tradition in The Milk Ogre, a movie filled with drama, action, tragedy, and love.
To start, the movie has a fantastic story development. Although written by Shwe Aye Ko, with the screenplay created by Nyein Min, Lu Min does a fantastic story of bringing the story to the screen.
The movie opens with an immersive shot of a temple. Although it’s just an introductory shot, it does create the foundation for what to expect. The shot is professionally filmed with great lighting and overall ambiance. The scene tells the audience what they can expect in the next 2 hours.
With the intro shot, the story untangles and starts to build the world of The Milk Ogre. Although completely linear, the story has a very dynamic way of moving forward. Meaning, although it keeps true to the time flow, it jumps around from the protagonist to other supporting characters. This ensures the story staying fresh and opens doors to various possibilities.
For example, although initially a drama, Lu Min doesn’t shy away from creating action scenes. This goes especially for fight scenes that are choreographed in a way that will make the audience think it’s some high-budget Hollywood movie or a lost piece from the Bruce Lee filmography.
One moment you’re immersed in a tragic story of a son gone wrong because his mother had to sell him to a monk. You sympathize with the mother and reject the son. But in the very next scene, you see the son making the right decisions and entering a fight where you can’t help but cheer him on.
Average movies create one-dimensional characters that are easy to sort into good and bad personality folders. But great movies create villains you end up supporting and heroes you end up resenting.
Lu Min takes the audience for a long rollercoaster ride that showers you with thrill, fear, hate, happiness, and every other emotion in between.
Many scenes come as a shock — something you’d never expect. This doesn’t necessarily have to do with the story, but just the way the scene is filmed. So it’s fascinating how Lu Min manages to control the dynamic without it feeling broken or out of place.
For many filmmakers, when they attempt to cram too much in a 90 or 120-minute movie, it ends up a mess. An unsuccessful mesh that’s obvious to any viewer. But every now and then, a movie manages to make it work. It’s even suitable to say, the movie manages to reach the level of an epic.
Now, does that mean everybody will love The Milk Ogre? Certainly no. Some viewers might find the movie boring, others might find the scenes cliche and cringy. Nevertheless, there’s no denying the “massiveness” that constantly circles around through the movie.
Obviously, all the drama/action juice would be for nothing if it wasn’t for solid acting to keep everything flowing.
The cast in The Milk Ogre certainly delivers — from the young protagonist to the old woman that appears for a mere minute to deliver a single scream and a couple of words. Every single actor is on the same professional level and not for a second, do the emotions feel out of place or an action unnatural.
It’s a complete package as some would say. And although not for everyone, it is a package that if you dare to open, you’ll get a movie that’s not only entertaining, but it also has that dash of educational filmmaking. Meaning, a filmmaker watching The Milk Ogre can learn a lot about making a drama or a hero’s journey story if that’s what they’re looking to create.
Either way, it’s fairly unlikely that you won’t like the movie. No matter if you’re a filmmaker or a film enthusiast looking for the next treat.