Merantau

Went to watch Merantau yesterday with Vivy. I went with much apprehension because afterall it's an Indonesian movie :P Seriously I wasn't planning to watch any movie until 2012 comes out. I found out about this movie because Vivy just casually mentioned it. Even then I don't think any of us give it any thought. What changed was, I saw the picture in GV website and then I read the synopsis which was so not enticing (made me roll my eyes) and then I hunted down the trailer. Saw the website, watched a behind the scene video blog and somehow got mildly interested. I asked Vivy if she wanted to watch it. Somehow she said okay maybe the cheap Tuesday was enticing as well. I can guarantee you that if she had said no, I wouldn't have been bothered to watch this. I think she wouldn't have watched it alone either.

So merantau in my definition is when someone leaves his / her hometown to make a life for himself / herself in another place. In a way, you can call me as merantau in Singapore. However I got it easy here. Afterall Singapore is so harmless. Anyways Merantau the movie kinda made merantau sounds like a rite of passage which me and Vivy are doubtful if there's any community in Indonesia currently which takes merantau as a rite of passage. So anyway, it tells the story of Yuda who hailed from Padang (the place which was badly damaged by an earthquake recently) who went merantau in Jakarta. Here he met a girl with a young brother who were living the hard life. The girl was being sold to some caucasian bad guys and Yuda who is really good in silat fought all the bad guys to save the girl. See, the story is not much of a gem but really the trailer which showed the fighting scenes really attracted me. But seriously though, if this weren't an Indonesian movie, I wouldn't watch it. Action-martial-art movies which purely sell actions without an interesting storyline don't really attract me. Well to say this is a purely Indonesian movie is kinda not necessarily true because the director and writer is actually British. However it was done in Indonesia, produced by an Indonesian company, yes they are some non-Indonesians working on it but I have to say that it is very Indonesian in nature.

For the life of me, I cannot recall ever watching an Indonesian movie in a cinema. There were some good ones that I had wanted to watch but somehow it never happened. So Merantau is actually the first Indonesian movie that I watched in a cinema. The first Indonesian movie that I actually paid money to watch! So it's kinda a big deal and I am happy to tell you I was quite entertained with it. I thought it was not bad. I thought it was really really cool. Yes perhaps compared to Hollywood or Jackie Chan movies, there are many things that Merantau is lacking but to know that this was done by Indonesians in Indonesia is just so awesome. You actually feel so proud about it and feel like clapping :D The story though is imperfect. As Vivy said there were many plot holes. Me being the critical one or perhaps you can say being the nagging girl who went to watch an action movie, is going to write some comments on it. So here you go :P These comments may contain spoilers though.

1. Yuda had the same bus take him from Padang to Jakarta. Padang is in Sumatra and Jakarta is in Java. They are 2 different island. So the idea of going from Padang to Sumatra in the same bus is kinda strange for me. I don't know if this really what happens in Indonesia but it's just strange. I wonder how long it takes if people really take the whole land and water way of going from Padang to Jakarta. By the way, the scenes of where Yuda's village was, is so beautiful. I wonder if those places are affected by the earthquake.

2. The scenes in Jakarta is really so Jakarta. Oshie gave me a new word today, dichotomy. He used this to explain how Jakarta is, which is very true. I thought Merantau captured the Jakarta which belongs to the haves not really well. It was pretty authentic, if I can say. So if you're not Indonesian or from Jakarta and thinking they're doing it just for the movie, it's not really just for the movie, it's a good depiction of Jakarta.

3. Along with how Jakarta looks like, the thugs were pretty authentic as well I have to say. In Jakarta we will call these people as preman. In hollywood movies, the thugs may come across as really strong, well built guys but true to the ones in Jakarta, the thugs in Merantau are not really the best physically looking people. They could come in small short skinny sizes :P and they would really fight with steels or with a cleaver :P

4. Some of the fighting scenes as cool as they were, were kinda too dramatic. One was the one in the lift. I was actually quite excited with the fighting scene in the lift because of the small area a lift present. However the timeline is illogical. The fight was supposed to last from the 5th floor to the 14th. Yes one of the bad guy did pause the lift, but Yuda restarted it. The fight and talking after the lift was restarted was just too long. So that's pretty illogical.

5. The bad guy in the lift was in the end shot by 2 other bad guys when the lift opened. This scene was just too dramatic for me. Too many shots were fired. Too many blood going on and even after that many shots and blood, the guy still didn't die instantly!!! Didn't make sense at all. However this scene kinda reminded me of how Hongkong action movies would have done it as well. Too much drama!

6. I have to add also, no Jakartans will not call the police if there's a major fight going on in the lobby of their appartment or if they hear a lot of shooting going on. Another illogical thing :P

7. The last fighting scene was between Yuda and the 2 caucasian bad guys. One of them was actually a martial art artist who in real life trains in China. I was expecting a lot from the fight between them however the fight between them wasn't that amazing. This bad guy even had to die first :( He was kinda handsome by the way.

8. I hate the ending. I don't like unhappy ending and major spoiler here!!! *alert* Yuda in the end died! The way he died was so dramatic. It reminds me of the movie Tootsie, in which Dustin Hoffman's character was auditioning for a part. He played a wounded person and was asked to move to the center of the stage from the end of the stage to be more dramatic in his dying scene. Dustin Hoffman's character said it didn't make sense, if you were dying why would you walk so far, you wouldn't even have the energy to do so. That's precisely what Yuda did however!!! He walked quite far despite of the major wound he had and his dying scene was pretty long that it doesn't make sense. In real life I think one would faint before dying since he lost a lot of blood. This kinda thing gets annoying, really :P

9. Some of the lines the character said were pretty Indonesian (I feel), some of the acting were pretty Indonesian as well. What do I mean with that, hmmm ... sometime I feel Indonesian tend to get unnecessarily dramatic :P However, I thought the casts were great. Great bunch of people. Everybody did really well. I thought Iko Uwais who played the main character, Yuda, was really cool but I think I like seeing him because of the character Yuda. Yuda is such a nice guy. So even though the guy is not the most handsome guy around, you would just fall for such nice decent guy!

I think I actually still have a lot of things to say but I'm gonna stop here. I am totally recommending this to all Indonesian out there to catch it. Non-Indonesians, well I don't know if you would be as excited as me but I would be very happy if you watch it too :D I thought the movie is a really good production coming out of Indonesia :) As I said, it kinda makes me feel proud that Indonesia can come out with something like this :D

:) eKa @ 9:45:00 PM •

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