More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 14.29%
Worth A Look42.86%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad42.86%
Total Crap: 0%

2 reviews, 2 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Brotherhood of Blades by Jay Seaver

Brotherhood of Blades II: The Infernal Battlefield by Jay Seaver

First Cow by Jay Seaver

Old by Peter Sobczynski

Space Jam: A New Legacy by Peter Sobczynski

Out of Death by Peter Sobczynski

Pig (2021) by Peter Sobczynski

Godzilla vs. Kong by Rob Gonsalves

Lansky by Rob Gonsalves

Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) by Rob Gonsalves

subscribe to this feed

[] Buy posters from this movie
by Jay Seaver

"That's silat of action!"
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2010 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Before I started attending genre film festivals like Fantasia, I confess, I had no idea that there were so many distinct ways for people to beat each other up. It's probably unfortunate, from a perspective of how we relate to each other as human beings, that no matter where in the world you go, that land can likely boast its own distinct form of hand-to-hand combat, although it's great for those who like variety in their action movies. "Merantau" is from Indonesia, and thus features silat.

Merantau, the word, is defined for the audience as a journey young people take alone to show that they are self-sufficient prepared for adulthood. As the film begins, Yuda (Iko Uwais) is about to begin his, going from the tomato fields of Sumatra to the big city of Jakarta. He intends to teach silat, although a man he meets on the bus says he will likely wind up using those skills in other ways. And indeed, there are not many teaching opportunities, but when he sees Astri (Sisca Jessica) being manhandled by Johni (Alex Abbad), he can't help but step in. Naturally, it doesn't go over so well; if she can't dance in Johni's club, how will she support her little brother Adit (Yusuf Aulia)? However, when Yuda spots something similar happening the next day - only this time Astri is being kidnapped because Johni promised European gangster Ratger (Mads Koudal) five "fresh" girls... Well, objections to being rescued are dropped.

That's pretty much the plot; once Yuda is in the city, it is basically him chasing Johni's and Ratger's men, or vice versa, depending on whether Astri was last kidnapped or rescued. It's simple and straightforward, with the characters getting just enough depth for audience empathy and providing enough reasons to shuffle locations around so that the fight scenes take place in different environments.

The fights, after all, are why people come, and writer/director/editor/action director Gareth Evans serves them up nicely. Silat, at least as shown in this film, is a style where the fighters are in constant motion, even when squared off before the first blows. It's fun to watch, getting the audience just a bit keyed up in anticipation of the action, and then, when things start to go down, it feels perfectly natural of Yuda to be able to fight multiple opponents off at once, his blows ricocheting from one to another. Evans saves the one-on-one fights with Ratger and his brother/henchman Luc (Laurent Buson) for the end, but in the meantime, he gives us plenty of fights with Yuda taking on superior numbers.

And despite Evans being relatively unheralded, he gives us some great action scenes. He frames the action in shots that are wide enough to show us everything that's happening, without a lot of cuts to hide impacts and stuntwork that, quite frankly, seems ridiculously dangerous. A number of scenes take place a couple stories or so above the streets, and you get to see folks drop all the way. But aside from sheer "that's gotta hurt!" moments, the martial arts is exciting and well-choreographed, and the final scenes are excellent, both driving home the amount of pain fighting with pipes must cause and having a nice contrast in fighting styles between the quick, lithe Iko Uwais and the likes of of Laurent Buson, with his sheer bulk and powerful high kicks.

Buson certainly makes himself noticed in that last fight, but gets somewhat overshadowed in his earlier scenes, as they are all with Koudal, who is perhaps my favorite Evil White Bastard ever to show up in a martial arts film. Sure, he does the basics, showering the Asian guys around him with contempt and having a vague accent that seems to wander from scene to scene, but few have ever hit the sweet spot of rich-brat entitlement Koudal does, especially since the audience sometimes shares his incredulity at what's going on around him. The rest of the cast is good, as well - Uwais, Jessica, and Aulia all give more than adequate performances - but a great villain can't help but stand out.

Indeed, while "Merantau" occasionally seems small-time in terms of story - although that may be different in the original Indonesian version, which runs twenty minutes longer than the version Magnolia is distributing to festivals and theaters - it gets the important things done: The action is excellent, and there's more than passable work between those scenes.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 07/18/10 03:19:58
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: Fantastic Fest 2009 For more in the Fantastic Fest 2009 series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: Actionfest 2010 For more in the Actionfest 2010 series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 New York Asian Film Festival For more in the 2010 New York Asian Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the 2010 Fantasia International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

7/21/12 Sean Harrison Brilliant martial arts action film. 5 stars
3/02/10 Sri Rahayu Mohd Yusop One of the best,if not the best martial art film ever made. 5 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  N/A (R)
  DVD: 28-Dec-2010



Directed by
  Gareth Evans

Written by
  Gareth Evans

  Iko Uwais
  Sisca Jessica
  Christine Hakim
  Mads Koudal
  Yusuf Aulia
  Alex Abbad

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast