Sruthi Ganapathy Raman
"Malaikottai Vaaliban" beautifully integrates animals and natural elements into frames, paying homage to Samurai films. Cinematographer Madhu Neelakandan captures the stunning visuals, evoking Japanese cinema's martial arts emotion.
The film follows Vaaliban (Mohanlal), an invincible warrior, in his quest for dominance. Accompanied by mentor Ayyanar and sibling Chinnapayyan, he faces challenges, showcasing prowess in Lijo Jose Pellissery's chaotic yet visually striking narrative.
Lijo weaves symbolism into Vaaliban's arrack-downing introduction, creating a visually rich postcard. The film, a blend of chaos and power, reflects Lijo's distinctive style, though writing underwhelms compared to the captivating visuals.
While the film boasts visually arresting scenes borrowing from Kurosawa and Kobayashi, the writing lacks depth. Action sequences, though visually impressive, leave a sense of emptiness due to insufficient storytelling and character development.
The second half raises intriguing questions about an unbeatable warrior's purpose, voiced by Mohanlal. However, these reflections come late, leaving a focus on Vaaliban's praises rather than exploring his existential crisis.
Hareesh Peradi shines in a climactic scene, offering unexplored dimensions. The film's treatment of women, villainizing a trans character, and underwhelming song sequences contribute to unfulfilled potential in an otherwise visually impressive samurai narrative.