Saturday, 10 June 2017


Kimo Stamboel & Timo Tjahjanto, 2016, Indonesia

A man (Iko Uwais) who has lost his memory is washed up on a beach into the affections of a nurse; could he have anything to do with the vicious gangster that has just escaped prison? 

‘Headshot’ follows the action template that the bad guys are irredeemable and cartoonish, but the Mo Brothers (Kimo Stamboel & Timo Tjahjanto) stage and direct with enough flair that keeps things just the right side of trite. Yunus Pasolang's camera circles the fights and sometimes follows people thrown through windows, knowing it is best to stand back and let these guys do their thing. There is a token romantic subplot with Chelsea Islan as Ailin – and the film ends with her face rather than his, implying that this romance is what counts, but what we have come for are the fights. And it is super-violent. 

Due to The Raid’, I am always going to have a soft spot for Iko Uwais who performs and orchestrates the fights, and like that film ‘Headshot’ utilises the idea that, no matter how lethal he is as a fighter, he is essentially a reborn innocent, on the side of the good, even if his backstory is a little murky. Luckily the amnesia will not effect his memory of how to fight. He is just always unlucky that he has a habit of being forced into situations where he has to say, using pencat silat, “Why do you guys keep making me prove I am such a bad ass?” This naturally expressed vulnerability is not a trait of the machismo of many action heroes, but it proves to be a good trick, his seeming defencelessness being easy to empathise with and his fighting skills being the envy of an audience that wants to triumph over all the enemies. Unusually, it does dwell on the toll this finally takes on him, but only to reunite us with his vulnerability and to wring the very last drop of pathos. The success of ‘The Raid’ was to reduce it all just to the fights but to also keep hold of the tension: ‘Headshot’ is a little too baggy with plot and lacks suspense, but the fights take up most of the time and in that it will surely satisfy.

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