I've been looking forward to this DVD for quite a while having seen the trailer back in 2009. I have to say this film doesn't disappoint delivering some very good action sequences plus a little more heart than the usual martial-arts film.
The beginning is slow as the characters are introduced as they prepare for the rites of passage journy called Merantau, the real name of the film by the way. It is something that when a young man of a certain age leaves home to make his own way in life. The lead character, Yudo, then heads for Jakarta to become a teacher of the Indonesian martial-arts form Silat.
Yudo, through means I shall not spoil, ends up helping a girl in distress (a young stripper named Astri -Sisca Jessica ) and tries to help her. At this point the martial-arts action begins featuring some very different and exciting skills from that talented lead Iko Uwais. I personally felt to begin with the martial-arts lacked power but it's as if as the movie progressed and Yudo, who didn't seem to want to hurt any one, gradually unleashes his talents. Leading to ever more increasingly thrilling displays of martial-arts, with ever more power. it is all Very exciting with a hightlight fight set in a lift!
Fortunately this film features a more grounded martial-arts display and seemingly different from the usual Chinese, Japanese and more recent Thai techniques, that works very well on screen.
While I would say the action is plentiful I would not call it completely action-packed. However I do feel the drama aspect which while not hugely time-consuming makes you care for the characters more. I found the film very satisfying from that point of view and as someone who highly enjoys his martial-arts action, it's a winning combination even if the story is not hugely original.
I'd definitely recommend this movie, without a single doubt, but if you're looking for something that little bit more hardcore try Broken Path starring Johnny Yong Bosch. Excellent. BUT don't pass this movie by.
I would also keep an eye out for the director and star of this film's new effort, probably not due until 2011, entitled Berandal. Any new film starring Iko Uwais is definitely worth keeping tabs on! He's a future star of the genre.