have to respect a film that knows martial arts and Moby-Dick. Well, at least it knows the first page—and plenty of
ways to administer a good beat-down. While he has amnesia, an attractive intern’s
mysterious patient will be known as Ishmael, but his true self might not be so
pleasant to meet. Nevertheless, he will do whatever it takes to rescue her from
his former associates in the Mo Brothers (Kimo Stamboel & Timo Tjahjanto)’s
Headshot (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
Lee, as he is simply known, is about to break out of prison—and the carnage
will be breathtaking. Around the same time, a comatose body with a cranial
bullet wound washes up in a fisherman’s net. During her residency in a provincial
clinic, the Jakarta-based Ailin nurses him back to health. She dubs him Ishmael
because she is reading Melville and takes a liking to him when he comes to. Ishmael
remembers little, but periodically he gets violent flashbacks, featuring Mr.
Lee and his loyal lieutenant Rika. Even though he suspects he is kind of a bad
cat, Ishmael (or Abdi as Mr. Lee and his men knew him) is determined to protect
Ailin. He is therefore somewhat bent out of shape when Mr. Lee’s thugs kidnap
her to flush him out.
here on out, it is essentially pedal-to-the-metal butt-kicking. Of course, the
cops are no help. They even cuff him up, making him even more vulnerable to Mr.
Lee’s hit squads, but it hardly matters. This is a man who could shake off a
bullet to the head—and he wasn’t even that motivated at the time.
action choreography credited to “Team Uwais,” Headshot is an adrenaline shot through the breastplate very much in
the tradition of his breakout hit franchise The
Raid. Although Yayan “Mad Dog” Ruhian is absent this time around, Julie “Hammer
Girl” Estelle is on-board as Rika, one of the deadliest of Mr. Lee’s henchfolk.
fight scenes offer no quarter, incorporating all sorts off back-breaking, skull
crushing moves. It gets brutal, in a spectacularly cinematic way. Although it
represents a departure from the Mo Brothers’ previous horror films (like the
disturbingly vicious Killers), Headshot most likely boasts a higher
body-count. In fact, they stage two flat-out massacre scenes (at least one of
which is admittedly somewhat unsettling).
there is no denying Uwais’s skills. He also builds some appealing chemistry
with Chelsea Islan’s Ailin. She is quite a discovery, playing the prospective
doctor with warmth and intelligence. As Rika, Estelle still keeps pace with
Uwais, even showing some dramatic range this time around, while Sunny Pang
chews the scenery with fierce conviction as Mr. Lee. Plus, several dozen supporting
players and stunt performers sport some impressive chops of their own as they
put themselves through the meat grinder for our entertainment.
Some might confuse the Mo Brothers’ Headshot with Pen-ek Ratanuang’s Thai
crime drama Headshot, which is also a
terrific film. Basically, our position is any Asian action film called Headshot is probably worth seeing. In
the case of the Indonesian Headshot,
nobody was taking half-measures. The Mo Brothers, Uwais, and Estelle throw it
down with authority. Highly recommended for martial arts fans, Headshot opens this Friday (3/3) in New
York, at the Cinema Village.
Labels: Iko Uwais, Indonesian Cinema, Julie Estelle, Martial arts cinema, Mo Brothers