Dir.: Mike Wiluan; Cast: Yoshi Sudarso, Ario Bayu, Tio Pakusadewo, Reinout Bussemaker, Happy Salma; Indonesia, Singapore 2018, 102 min.
Mike Wiluan tries hard to make his homeland’s Oscar entry a touchstone for every Western every made. The end result is a stylish but soulless mishmash that reaches new heights of voyeurism, sadism, and violence – with almost continuous sword and gun fights, martial arts, and fisticuffs a plenty.
Even the narrative is over-wrought: Indonesian princes Suwo (Sudarso) and Jamar (Bayu) have been raised in California by their uncle Arana (Pakusadewo), who fled to the USA after his brother Hamza, a Sultan, was killed in Indonesia by Dutch colonial forces, led by the villainous Van Trach (Bussemaker). We are introduced to the brothers learning how to be good cowboys and gun fighters, before travelling with their uncle to Indonesia, to avenge their father in the early 1860s. Siding with suppressed villagers, they soon come to the attention of Van Trach; a pervert who spends his time whipping and raping his servant Seruni (Salma), who turns out to be Arana’s wife. Needless to say, all is resolved in a showdown, when the good ones punish the villains. The less said about this valiant attempt, the better: Performances across the board are one-dimensional and DoP John Radel’s widescreen images are as second-hand as the rest of the ensemble – apart from the sadistic misogyny, which is truly remarkable – even for the Wild West AS
ON RELEASE NATIONWIDE FROM 18 JANUARY