Sunday, August 13, 2017

'Headshot' Is Another Intense, Enthralling Indonesian Martial Arts Film

In Headshot, Iko Uwais, the star of The Raid movies, plays a mysterious man that is washed ashore a rural Indonesian island.  After being in coma for two months, he wakes up with no memory of his identity.  He adopts the name “Ishmael” and becomes friends with the doctor that took care of him, Ailin (Chelsea Islan), and the local fisherman that found him, Romli (Yaya Unru).  But soon, his past catches up with him, as the syndicate he used to be connected with – led by the cruel crime lord Lee (Sunny Pang) – have come looking for him, leaving carnage in their wake.  This leads to the abduction of Ailin and the death of Romli.  Now, Ishmael has to go war against former comrades in order to rescue Ailin and stop Lee’s evil once and for all.

I loved The Raid movies.  So, obviously, what drew me to Headshot is the fact that Iko Uwalis is its star.  And, by that, I was expecting for the same intense, mesmerizing pencak silat action from this movie.  Now, though the fight scenes aren’t as glorious as those in The Raid movies, it does deliver the goods.  It has plenty of brutal, exciting, eye-popping close-combat set pieces.   And, as expected from Uwalis, he demonstrates his skills superbly.
Julie Estelle, Uwalis’ co-star in The Raid 2: Berandal, is in this movie, too, and she’s as wonderful here as she had been when she was “Hammer Girl.”  The other actors and stuntmen did a great job, as well, in selling the violence and fights – most notably, Sunny Pang and Very Tri Yulisman.

The story, however, is nothing special.  It has a couple of clichés and some dumb writing.  Still, it makes use of its predictable structure to create something legitimately impactful and poignant.  There’s depth and drama that makes the movie more than a single-minded showcase of splendid, visceral martial arts choreography – which it mainly is and doesn’t hide.
Despite its flaws, Headshot is well-paced, well-shot, well-executed, thrilling, and enthralling in general.  It’s not as enjoyable and tightly constructed as The Raid movies.  But it still is a sufficient fix for some kickass Indonesian action until they get around doing the long-overdue third Raid film.

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