Merantau, Indonesian movie (2009)

I was introduced to the martial arts movie genre, by watching old Jackie Chan movies. Really, the guy is amazing, and whether or not you like his movies, I don’t think anyone can dispute his skills. Pretty much every martial arts movie I watched in those early days, had it’s origins in Hong Kong. However as my interest in those movies grew, I slowly began to discover that there were other countries that also made some very high quality martial arts films. Indonesia is one of those countries, and it turned the genre upside down with the phenomenal movies The Raid, and The Raid 2. The star from those two films is a man named Iko Uwais. One of the things I tend to do when I really like something is to find out as much as I can about it, or in this case the actor. To my surprise Netflix had one of Iko’s earlier movies on offer, and it turned out to be a hidden gem.

Take it to the bridge….

In Merantau, Iko plays the role of the young man Yuda who is an expert in Silat, a form of martial arts. Yuda lives with his mother and his older brother in the peaceful  countryside. One day however Yuda leaves his home to go on his Merantau, which can best be described as a kind of journey to seek out experience and succes. His plan is to teach Silat to the children of Jakarta, and become a better man by doing so. When he arrives in the city, he soon discovers that things are very different from the countryside. What’s more while enjoying a relatively peaceful meal, his wallet gets stolen by a young boy. Yuda gives chase, and manages to catch the would be thief. Not long after the boy’s sister, Astri, appears who is found arguing with her boss Johnny. When Astri is struck in the face by Johnny, Yuda comes to her aid. From this point on things are beginning to go very wrong. A ruthless human trafficker called Ratger, will stop at nothing to get Astri back, and the only one standing in his way is Yuda. But Yuda finds himself outnumbered as Ratger has an enormous amount of henchmen at his disposal, that soon give chase. Will Yuda be able to save Astri, or will his efforts be in vain?

Don’t look into his eyes unless you want to be brainwashed. 

This movie is a fine example of a film that I expected absolutely nothing from, but which turned out to be an enormous surprise. I thought this would be a fairly standard action flick, with maybe one or two good fight scenes, but not much more on offer. I was completely wrong. The biggest surprise to me in this film, was the amount of touching moments it contained. Yes, this is an actionmovie, but the story itself, while nothing really unique, contains some genuine heart. This is in part because of the amazing chemistry between the two lead actors. Iko really shows that besides martial arts he can also act and his scenes with Sisca Jessica who plays Astri, are some of the best parts of this film. The villain of this movie is played by Danish actor Mads Koudal, and he does a great job in portraying a pretty psychotic human trafficker.

She does have a second eye beneath her hair, no worries. 

But ofcourse a martial arts movie stands or falls with it’s fight sequences, and it is also in this department that it truly shines. We have some seriously amazing fight choreagraphy on display here, and it is hard to pick a favorite scene. Iko sometimes seems to be made of rubber the way he manages to twist his body in almost impossible positions. With all the positive things on offer the movie does lose a bit of credibility near the end. There is one scene in an elevator that really goes way over the top, and is completely unbelievable. But that one scene wasn’t enough to spoil the film though. For everyone who is a fan of martial arts movies, and wants to experience something slightly different from what this genre usually has to offer, I recommend seeing this one. It is a high speed train ride that never lets up, but also doesn’t forget to put some heart into the storyline.

I give Merantau a 8 out of 10 score.



16 thoughts on “Merantau, Indonesian movie (2009)”

    1. Well…talk about coincidence. That one I expect to watch in the weekend, and write a review for as well. After reading the description for it, I’m already looking forward to it 😊 You know your movies: cool ! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Could not agree more. His skills are very impressive. He was very young still in this movie, but even so, his martial arts were absolutely amazing 😊😊 Going to see another of his films (Headshot), this weekend 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Living in America, we have to search to find good foreign films. It isnt like the previews just randomly pop up in the movies or on TV. So I am loving your foreign film reviews! Thanks Raistlin! Also, you dabble in films from all sorts of countries, which I love.

    I am a sucker for old Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan films, so this is what initially got me to click on this review of yours. That and it was written by you so, yeah… I knew it would be great.

    The touching moments seals the deal for me. I am all about a bit of romance in any film.

    Thanks again for the great review, Raistlin! Keep it up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so very much for these kind words 😊 Don’t know what to say 😀
      I really enjoy watching movies from all kinds of countries. Honestly if the movie is good, the language doesn’t concern me at all. I was surprised by this film in a very good way. If you get to watch it, I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did 😊 If all goes well, I will have a review up somewhere in the weekend for Headshot, another Indonesian film also starring Iko Uwais which I plan on seeing this week 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love that you watch so many foreign films, especially Asian films! I’m always looking for new Asian films to check out, but not many people enjoy them. This film sounds like something I’m going to like. Thanks so much!! 😃

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well darn. I wanted to check out this movie after reading this review, but it’s not available here 😦 I don’t say that too often, lol. But I don’t believe I’ve ever seen an Indonesian film, and this one does look very good. Those surprise finds are always the best 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, that really is a shame. Hopefully it will be available to you soon. Really surprised that this one is not available for you for a change, seeing that pretty much everything can be watched on your end. I first saw him in the Indonesian movie The Raid. Also a movie I highly recommend, though that one is really purely a martial,arts movie, and has less story in it.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, thank you very much 😊 Well, he is an up and coming martial arts artist. He has even had a role in Star Wars episode 7, which I think is a pretty big honor. But yeah he hasn’t appeared in an enormous amount of films yet, so I know that not many people know him yet 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Fantastic review, looks like Iko Uwais is on a streak of good action films! I have Headshot queued for this weekend, so I’m really looking forward to that. Indonesia has been churning out some gems, with top-notch fight choreography. I just love martial arts movies, particularly ones done in Asia. Have you seen Ong Bak? 😊


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