Merantau Warrior: a young rural martial artist must head to Jakarta as part of his coming-of-age ritual, but when his plans fall through he soon gets caught up in some grotty business. The story takes its time to warm up, but from the first frame the it looks great, with guerrilla location use of the vivid & vibrant countryside, and the city's graffiti, buildings, clothes etc. The film really comes to life when the fighting starts - it remains intricate, innovative and entertaining through all of the set-pieces; and nothing beats a good-old showdown in an industrial shipping container yard!
Iko Uwais shines brightest when kicking and punching his way through every extra in the country, but he can also hold a scene; If there's any justice he will be the next action mega-star in the vein of Tony Jaa / Donnie Yen. An added benefit is that Silat is such a visual fighting style, and with no-nonsense, non-shaky camerawork it's a treat to watch. Other than the slow-start, gratuitous cheesy love angle and a sloppy undercurrent of Western people taking liberties, Merantau Warrior lands every punch.
Between this and The Raid - that Gareth Evans is now 2 for 2 in my book, and with the obvious improvement between the movies, I'm super-pumped for the final installment of this trilogy.
Score: 7.5/10 - from ParagraphFilmReviews dot com