Director Zulkarnain Azhar grew up on a steady diet of action-espionage films, thanks to the influence of his late father. Naturally, it was his dream to make a local film about the journey of a James Bond-like hero.
He had in mind, specifically, to revive Jefri Zain, the suave spy played by the late Tan Sri Jins Shamsudin in thrilling 1960s classic films such as Gerak Kilat, Bayangan Ajal and Jurang Bahaya.
“Unfortunately, I couldn’t secure the rights to do so. So I thought, why not create a new one?” he shared during an interview in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Thus, Jay Zulkarnain was born. Played by Zul Ariffin in the movie J Revolusi, Jay is a decorated soldier under the elite Special Action Unit (Unit Tindakan Khas or UTK).
When his sister Dian (Fazura) is kidnapped by an international crime syndicate, Jay goes to great lengths to rescue her. That includes turning his back on the UTK and going undercover as one of the enemy.
The action-packed movie with a production budget of RM2.7mil also stars Izara Aishah, Azad Jasmin, Farid Kamil and Iedil Putra.
J Revolusi marks Zul’s first time as a lead actor on the big screen. The 31-year-old actor already has a huge following thanks to his portrayal as a romantic hero in TV dramas like Rindu Awak 200%, M.A.I.D. and Istikharah Cinta. He was Zulkarnain’s first choice to play Jay.
“When I wanted to do that Jefri Zain reboot, I could only picture Zul Ariffin as Jefri Zain. He has that distinctive aura and persona. We’re used to seeing him play a lovey-dovey character in dramas but I can see in his eyes that he’s more than that. He could be an iconic action hero,” Zulkarnain shared.
Zul was proud to be considered for the part. The actor, who prefers doing TV dramas, said doing an action film is something that he has always hoped for.
“In Malaysia, we usually just produce romantic films. So, when this opportunity came about, I was surprised. Plus, to get the trust that I could do more than just love stories means a lot. I definitely worked hard to honour the director’s trust in me,” Zul offered.
Zul said he is game for any action scenes as long as the audience is entertained. In the movie, Zul gets his butt kicked by Mixed Martial Arts fighter Peter Davis who plays one of the bad guys.
“I don’t care if I get hurt doing my own stunts. If I fall and break something, just send me to the hospital,” Zul said with a smile. The actor even forked out his own money to purchase a Ducati Hypermotard 821 to be used by his character in the movie – because what is an action hero without a superbike? He didn’t mind when a stuntman trashed the bike in a scene.
“I’ve always wanted to get that bike. When I saw the opportunity to do so, I thought why not. Since it was also my first movie (as lead), I would have something nice to remember the experience.”
However, if there was one thing Zul couldn’t do, it was to be like Jins’ version of Jefri Zain.
According to the actor, he didn’t want to copy anybody. “It would be hard. I just wanted to be myself.”
Zulkarnain even said that the characer of Jay had been tweaked to resemble Zul in some ways. Zul himself maintained that playing Jay in J Revolusi is not about being a tough guy.
“It’s about courage. My character just wants to save his sister. So, he gets hit and hurt a lot but he still has to push forward to save her. Put all the action aside, J Revolusi is also about family.”