“Merantau” Does Not Wander From It’s Concept

by Nicholas Robinson

In Minangkabau, West Sumatera, Yuda (Iko Uwais) a skilled practitioner of Silat Harimau is in the final preparations to begin his “Merantau” a century’s old rites-of-passage to be carried out by the community’s young men that will see him leave the comforts of his idyllic farming village and make a name for himself in the bustling city of Jakarta. After a series of setbacks leave Yuda homeless and uncertain about his new future, a chance encounter results in him defending the orphaned Astri (Sisca Jessica) from becoming the latest victim of a European human trafficking ring led by the wildly psychotic, Ratger (Mads Koudal) and his right-hand man Luc (Laurent Buson). With Ratger injured in the mêlée and seeking both his “merchandise” and bloody retribution, Yuda’s introduction to this bustling city is a baptism of fire as he is forced to go on the run with Astri and her younger brother Adit (Yusuf Aulia) as all the pimps and gangsters that inhabit the night hound the streets chasing their every step. With escape seemingly beyond their grasp, Yuda has no choice but to face his attackers in an adrenaline charged, jaw-dropping finale. – IMDB.com

This is another one of those movies that I saw a trailer for a while back and really wanted to watch it, but fell off my radar due to other movies coming out and just lack of marketing in Jamaica.  Once again, it came back on my radar when I saw it on Neil Miller’s (@rejects on twitter) Top Ten of 2010 List on Film School Rejects.  So I (as usual) took a trip to the DVD rental store and rented a copy and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  The story and acting were very average (not like we expect any better from a martial arts movie), the action was amazing and the music was fantastic.

Like I said the story was just enough so that we could see this dude kick some ass.  He goes to Jakarta hoping to teach Silat for a living when a small boy steals his wallet.  He chases after the boy only to find a man choking a woman and demanding money from her.  He intervenes, which leads to a lot of scenes in which he beats up/kills A LOT of people.  To be honest, even though that it sounds like a bad story, it’s all I need from an action movie.  In fact, when I go to watch an action movie, I don’t need a wonderful plot and amazing dialogue.  All I need is a plausible explanation as to why this dude is kicking ass and I got it.

The acting was average.  Once more,  I don’t watch an action movie for emotional, gut-wrenching, tear-jerking performances.  I watch an action movie to watch one guy or a group of guys kick some ass and I get that here.  I mean it’s not that I wouldn’t mind amazing performances in an action movie, but I don’t necessarily need it to enjoy the movie.

The action in this movie was amazing.  The fight scenes were all well-choreographed and made to look like it could actually happen.  It wasn’t outwardly ridiculous action like in The A-Team or Black Dynamite, but it was good.  The scenes were well-edited and made it flow so it didn’t feel choppy like in Quantum of Solace or just an excuse to blow shit up like in Transformers 2, it just flowed from sequence to sequence, from victory to victory, all leading up to a great fight scene at the end between Yuda and Ragter and Luc.

The music in this movie was fantastic.  It didn’t sound like original score, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was.  Every track fit the scene it was in beautifully.  Drumbeats matched up with connected hits or other things in the scene.  If the fight slowed down, so did the music.  If the fight sped up, so did the music.  If the tone of the scene changed, so did the music.  It was just great.

Overall, this is a fun little action flick that is a good alternative to Tony Jaa’s Ong Bak series.

IMDB says 6.6/10

RT says 59%

I say 8/10


~ by sputnikreviews on January 6, 2011.

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