MAN ON THE RUN Review: The Wolf of Malaysia

Director Cassius Michael Kim documents how Jho Low exploited a fund intended to benefit the people of Malaysia and instead financed 'The Wolf of Wall Street,' among other reported misdeeds.

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas, US (@peteramartin)
MAN ON THE RUN Review: The Wolf of Malaysia

"Let me give you a little legal advice."

Man on the Run
The film debuts Friday, January 5, 2024, on Netflix.

Jho Low. Outside Malaysia, his name may spark memories. Inside Malaysia, his name may spark nightmares.

Directed by Cassius Michael Kim, Man on the Run utilizes modern documentary techniques -- recreated scenes, flashy graphics, informative titles, celebrity name-dropping -- to enliven a tale of financial misdeeds on a grand scale, where the toll ran into billions of dollars. A broad cross-section of talking-heads includes journalist Clare Rewcastle-Brown, who broke the story; politicians from both the opposition and the ruling parties; whistle-blower Xavier André Justo, who speaks about his motives and the subsequent effect upon his family; and investigators in the U.S. Department of Justice who got involved in the case.

The opening scenes are what catch the eye, with images of Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, Paris Hilton, and Miranda Kerr, among other celebrities, who were seen in the company of the mysterious Jho Low, which appears to be preposterous, until the film alleges that the celebs were all paid exorbitant appearance fees to be seen with him. (The celebs declined to participate in the film.) The idea was Jho Low to be cloaked in glossy respectability in order to further his outlandish schemes to rob a sovereign wealth fund in Malaysia.

The film does a good job in assembling the events that led up to the establishment and maintenance of 1MDB (the sovereign wealth fund) and then how Jho Low allegedly stole incredibly huge amounts of money from it in order to fund his jet-set lifestyle, filled with celebrity "friends." It's all rather outrageous.

Cassius Michael Kim goes beyond documenting the outrageous antics to point out that this was not a victimless crime, since it's the people of Malaysia who never benefited from the fund that was ostensibly established to benefit them, and are now stuck with having to repay the debts that were incurred. (It reminds me of a friend whose brand-new car was stolen within days, leaving him stuck making payments for years on the loan that he'd taken out to buy the car in the first place. And he still had to buy another car, a junker, to drive.)

People of Malaysia must now pay for the robbery committed by a mysterious man who disappeared. Man on the Run persuasively argues that the patterns of widespread corruption that allowed for these crimes to be committed still exist, not only in Malaysia, but throughout the world, a sobering message during the first week of a new calendar year.

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Cassius Michael KimdocumentaryJho LowNetflix

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