* Viewed at the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival
Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto (aka The Mo Brothers) the writer and directors of last year’s Killers team up with Iko Uwais, star of The Raid and it’s sequel. The result, while lacking The Raid films scope is a gritty and satisfying thriller.
Crime lord Mr Lee (Sunny Pang) is sprung from jail in a violent rescue. On the same day an unconscious man (Iko Uwais) washes up on a nearby beach. Dubbed Ishmael by Ailin (Chelsea Islan) The doctor taking care of him he has no memory of who he is, how he ended up floating in the surf, or who is responsible for the bullet fragments in his head. News of this gets back to Lee who orders him killed. When that proves difficult he has Ailin kidnapped to flush him out. Now Ishmael has to figure out who he is and why he’s marked for death while rescuing Ailin.
The amnesiac hero is an old plot device and it’s really not given much use here as the plot moves the hero from fight to fight as much by circumstance as anything. It’s only towards the end as he faces people from his past that it really has an effect on the plot. Particularly in his fight with Rika (Julie Estelle) as he remembers their shared past as she tries to kill him. But overall it’s more of a red herring and a plot device to allow a relationship to develop between the two lead.
But what matters in a film like this is the fight scenes, and there are plenty of them. Nasty, brutal and hard hitting with plenty of blood and broken bones. The brutality of rhe violence is pushed up several notches, probably because of the directors background in horror. Anyone who’s seen Killers or their segments in ABCs of Death or VHS 2 know they have a dark sensibility and it shows here. Not only in the brutality of the fights but plot details like Lee’s kidnapping of children and dropping them in an old well to fight to the death over the occasional gift of food or water until only one survives, ready to become a trained assassin. That’s also about as much background as we get on any of the characters, but again that’s not what this movie is about.
It’s about fights, fights on buses full of dead people, in police stations and on beaches among other places. Fights with fists, guns, knives and clubs and it delivers on that level. As long as you can deal with the plot’s shortcomings, (and if you’re a fan of action films you probably can), then this will be a lot of fun.