Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Headshot Review 2016 Indonesia

Year: 2016
Director: Kimo Stamboel, Timo Tjahjanto (The Mo Brothers)
Writer: Timo Tjahjanto
Cast: Iko Uwais, Julie Estelle, Chelsea Islan, David Hendrawan, Epy Kusnandar, Zack Lee, Sunny Pang, Very Tri Yulisman
Running Time: 118 minutes

If you take The Raid, multiply the violence by 100 and chuck in some Kill Bill and Jason Bourne. You get Headshot!

A young man with a head wound (Uwais) washes up on the shore of a small Indonesian village. He’s taken to a local hospital and cared for by kindly doctor Ailin (Chelsea Islan), who dubs him Ishmael after the book she’s reading, Moby Dick. When he wakes up two months later, he has no memory of his real name or past life. Ailin suggests they go to Jakarta to get the bullet fragments removed from his skull, and she goes ahead of him on a bus ride. However, gang members working for the sinister Lee (Sunny Pang) ambush the bus and kidnap Ailin to draw out “Ishmael”. Ishmael then goes on a rampage to rescue Ailin while flashes of his past life begin returning to his memory.

Directed by Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto(Mo Brothers) this is their follow up release to their 2014 hit 'Killers'. The plot is relatively thin in Headshot, but it's enough to keep you emotionally invested. The story is actually more compelling than The Raid, although it is almost your typical damsel in distress plot. There's also a cheesy love story between the leads which surprisingly almost always works. They even manage to deliver some sentimental moments between Ishmael and Ailin which gives some key scenes a better emotional payoff.

The violence is on another level from any action film in years, it actually puts The Raid to shame. While Gareth Evan's action films have shock moments or "punchlines" during fight scenes to break it up, Headshot seems to have fight scenes to break up the shock moments and gore! No object is safe as bus seats, windows, bullets, chopsticks and even typewriters are used as weapons during extremely bloody brawls. There is definitely more than one moment that will leave you wincing in your seat! In fact, there is probably about 10!

The Mo Brothers use a different style of filming action from most Asian directors which has its positives and negatives. During the tightly choreographed fight scenes the handheld camera is often shaky or spinning around the actors which can actually mask how intricate the Silat fight scenes are and it doesn't let you digest every move you see. However, sometimes these unconventional camera techniques work in the action's favour to deliver exciting scenes such as Iko jumping out of a window while doing a somersault and the camera follows him by also doing a somersault...

Iko Uwais delivers a really good performance, taken out of his comfort zone he has some emotive acting to do this time which he performs effectively. Julie Estelle and Very Tri Yulisman who are more commonly known as Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat Man from The Raid 2, show up as a pivotal part of the story and both deliver great fight scenes against Iko. Sunny Pang stars as the main villain Lee and although he manages to be chilling and intimidating, some of his dialogue scenes are odd as he talks in English and Iko replies in Indonesian. Chelsea Islan is decent as the love interest in her butter-wouldn't-melt role, and she even manages to get you rallying behind her when she is in distress.

Being an action film there are a fair few silly moments. The villains appear to have a very bad aim, even when they are close to an unarmed Iko Uwais they still manage to miss him. There are also some characters surviving punishment which doesn't seem humanely possible. The love story seems a little contrived at times with Ailin seemingly falling for Ishmael rather quickly and under odd circumstances. These can be overlooked though as the plot takes a backseat to the action!

This new Indonesian martial arts thriller can't quite match The Raid, but it does come incredibly close!
Will certainly entertain fans of the action and martial arts genres, although if you are squeamish be prepared to cover your eyes.


See this if you liked:
Merentau Warrior
The Raid

Headshot is getting a limited release in the UK and USA on March 3rd 2017. So hunt this one down!
If you are in Scotland, it will be shown at the Glasgow Film Theatre from the 3rd to the 9th of March.

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