Rating: 6.5 stars
Seen 2 times
Seen on: 01/08/2021, 02/03/2011
In Minangkabau, West Sumatera, Yuda a skilled practitioner of Silat Harimau is in the final preparations to begin his “Merantau” a century’s old rites-of-passage to be carried out by the community’s young men that will see him leave the comforts of his idyllic farming village and make a name for himself in the bustling city of Jakarta.
Length 106 minutes
I decided to follow up yesterday’s disappointing Raging Phoenix with Merantau, another martial arts movie, this time from Indonesia.
The story follows a young man who leaves his idyllic country village on his rite of passage to manhood, i.e. Merantau, by traveling to Jakarta, the capitol of Indonesia. Of course he runs into the criminal element abusing a girl, whom he rescues. And from there on it’s fight, fight, fight.
I liked it a lot, though not as much as I could have. The movie was more darkly themed and grittier than I expected, which was fine. However, it got to be overly melodramatic for my taste. The camera lingering around for effect on especially dramatic scenes in order to make damn sure you recognized how heavy things were getting got to be tedious at times.
It really could have used a tighter edit to bring the running time down a bit.
Another irritation was the overacting of the principal antagonist, Ratger, played by Danish actor Mads Koudal, who is so outrageously vile and outlandishly violent that it takes away from the drama and realism of the rest of the movie.
Despite these setbacks, Merantau is heads above Raging Phoenix, though steps below Chocolate and the Ong Bak movies. The fight scenes are pretty brutal, not showy, and mostly well staged. These guys looked like they were really beating the shit out of each other. There were some especially brutal moves involving taking out bad guys mid-jump that had me cringing!
Out of 10, I’d give Merantau a solid 6.5. Maybe 3.5 stars out of 5. Well worth a watch if you love more recent martial arts movies like Ong Bak and Chocolate.