Headshot (2016 – Review)


Written by Timo Tjahjanto
Directed by Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto

A late night screening at the Roxie let me see martial arts film Headshot, it’s got Iko Uwais, Baseball Bat Man (Very Tri Yulisman!!!) and Hammer Girl herself, Julie Estelle! There are some other martial stars and a whole slew of fight scenes that keeps things entertaining even when part of the plot threatens to snatch that away.

The world of Headshot is a world where it takes dozens of bullets to kill someone, leading to many many scenes where characters are basically emptying clips from their machine guns into people before they finally die. It gets a little ridiculous. Okay, it gets very ridiculous. Insanely ridiculous. I had to assume it takes place in a universe where bullets only hurt as much as a bee sting or something. The violence and gore helps paint Headshot as more of a martial horror movie, it even opens in a filthy prison where dozens of characters machine gun each other down, only seemingly collapsing from the weight of the shear volume of bullets they pump into each others bodies.

Even the plot is set in motion because Iko Uwais was shot in the head and didn’t die, washing up in a coma on the beach and awakening in the hospital weeks later with amnesia. He’s then dubbed Ishmael by the local incredibly young Dr. Ailin (Chelsea Islan), who is infatuated with him and reading Moby Dick at the time. Any further parallel to Moby Dick is accidental beyond Ishmael’s determination to stop the villain Lee sort of like how Ahab was obsessed, but not in a self-destructive way that gets everyone dead, only a bunch of random innocent people. We know from Steven Seagal movies that coma victims are irresistibly attractive to women, so she couldn’t help it.

Ishmael wakes up, remembers nothing, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t still looking for him (or the former him, who was named Abdi), and soon Ishmael is violently getting his memory back and has to save the now kidnapped Dr. Ailin by punching and kicking his way through the army of villains. The main thing we are here for is the fights, to see Iko Uwais beat the snot out of people, and there is plenty of beating! The fight sequences are fantastic, and while they don’t measure to the top tier stuff from The Raid or the sequel, they are still worth your time, even if the rest of the plot is about as bad as The Raid 2‘s boring gangster drama.

The fight with Very Tri Yulisman is the best in the film, and they save it towards the end. Earlier fights have mixes of martial arts and gunplay (a fight in a police station seems to reference a scene in Die Hard before going in a completely different direction) A fight on a bus full of murdered people while goons are trying to burn it and all the evidence on it (and hopefully Ishmael as well) is a good highlight, the increasing danger as the fight progresses does a good job of building suspense while still giving plenty of nice fight choreography and brutal hits.

The boss villain Lee (Sunny Pang) gets several scenes that all do the same job of showing how he’s just an evil force of nature. His prison escape (from which he purposefully got himself captured just so he could escape?), his taking over of local drug gangs by killing anyone who dares resist him, and his history of kidnapping children after he raids villages, raising the children to be killers that he later uses as enforcers. As most of these kids are now in their mid-20s, this is like 20 years of investment into a bunch of powerful soldiers, all of which he sends against Ishmael in slow trickles so they can be defeated. Lee is more of a collection of villain tropes than an actual villain or even an evil father figure. They try to touch on the bad father figure part, but only spend a limited amount of time with, most of which is divorced from affecting Ishmael directly and instead hits Julie Estelle’s character more than anything in explaining why she won’t leave with Ishmael.

For Headshot you need to come for the fighting and wait for the next fighting. Luckily things start going by at a fast pace after the plot gets started, but it would be nice to once again recommend one of these Indonesian action films for the plot in addition to the fighting. I just want more, and I’m not going to settle for less.

SFIFF 2017

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Siluman Teluk Gonggo

Siluman Teluk Gonggo

Siluman Teluk Gonggo
Based on work by Bastian Tito
Directed by Lilik Sudjio

Siluman Teluk Gonggo
A giant martial arts fighting spider, a mad rapist with an evil parrot, a giant bird that has seen better days, and a bamboo flamethrower are just part of the fun of Siluman Teluk Gonggo. This fantasy martial arts adventure (since it is Indonesia, it is silat) is one of a series of films about pulp hero Wiro Sableng.

Wiro Sableng’s serialized martial arts adventures gained fame in Indonesia and turned the character into one of their most famous pulp heroes. The world of Wiro Sableng is best described as similar to the Jianghu “martial world” of wuxia fantasy, with different clans and martial sect that have different fighting techniques and local drama. Wiro spends much of his time wandering from area to area learning from the various masters and getting involved in local drama. Author Bastian Tito actually spent time traveling around Indonesia to the places Wiro was visiting, so he could write first-hand knowledge of the area. This also occasionally caused the stories to be delayed.

Siluman Teluk Gonggo

A planet of me!

This is the sixth movie in the series starring Tony Hidayat as Wiro Sableng. This series is comprised of Empat Berewok Dari Goa Sanggreng, Dendam Orang-Orang Sakti, Neraka Lembah Tengkorak, Tiga Setan Darah Dan Cambuk Api Angin, Sepasang Iblis Betina, Siluman Teluk Gonggo, and Khianat Seorang Pendekar. There were two television series that portrayed the further adventures of Wiro Sableng, first starring Sukendro Herning (also known as Ken Ken) and then Abhie Cancer.

As you can imagine, there isn’t that much information in English. But I have determined the names of the two men who help Wiro Sableng are Lor Gambir Seta (K. Supranto) and Dewa Tuak (Piet Pagau), though I’m not sure which one is which.

But it’s not the actors that give our attention to Siluman Teluk Gonggo, it’s the monsters. Yes, there are Indonesian giant monsters! We get not only Wiro Sableng’s faithful giant bird companion, but a giant spider, a human-sized monkey creature, and some monster so large we only see it’s eyes and huge King Kong-sized hand. Exactly what it is, is a mystery to the ages. Or at least to people who don’t speak Indonesian, as they probably explain what it is.

Siluman Teluk Gonggo

Spider will be appearing in the next The Raid sequel

Director Lilik Sudjio has a prolific career pumping out lots of Indonesian genre film that has gone barely noticed in the West for far too long. For every The Queen of Black Magic that gets a cool DVD release, there are a dozen Siluman Teluk Gonggos that sit around on vcds. Before his film work he was an actor, and then spent some time in film school in the US before returning to Indonesia and producing a lot of cool stuff. After 1990, he turned to directing television, as that was the way of the future as the film industry was collapsing.

Pulp hero Wiro Sableng has a tattoo that reads “212”, and carries around a variety of weapons. He has an ax that has a dragon-head hilt, and a throwing weapon used like a shuriken, in the film it has a sort of boomerang power and looks like a take on the weapon from Krull, but with just two blades.

The fighting choreography isn’t half bad, either. It’s not The Raid, but it isn’t The Bumbling, either. Though many of the actors are terrible at playing dead, they just casually drop to the floor like they’re going to sleep. The pacing and lack of subtitles (Here at TarsTarkas.NET, we don’t need no stinking subtitles!) might drive some away, but stay for the last 20 minutes, that’s where the real fun and most of the monsters are.

Siluman Teluk Gonggo

How’s about a little fire, Scarecrow?

Wiro Sableng (Tony Hidaya) – Super martial arts master who wanders around being arrogant, though occasonally battles evil people like Sonya. Has a flying blade weapon
Sonya (Arthur Tobing) – Sonya first appears as a family man who leaves his sad wife and young son to go visit the Witch Doctor for reasons unknown. After given powers and the Evil Parrot, Sonya turns into a mad raping wizard, roaming the countryside killing and raping everyone he sees. He has powers of teleportation, invisibility, and boob grabbing.
Evil Parrot (himself) – Evil Parrot given to Sonya by Witch Doctor. If Evil Parrot is just Witch Doctor in animal form, I do not know, but he does seem to shout commands from time to time.
Witch Doctor (???) – A scarred old witch doctor who lives in a spooky valley. People come to see him to ask for things, but he just turns them evil. Evil!!! He explodes after making Sonya evil, perhaps transfering his power to the Evil Parrot.
Giant Flying Bird (puppet) – Wiro Sableng’s loyal ride and companion, who is barely in the film despite how useful he would be to scout around the huge countryside looking for signs of Sonya. The bird is ratty and half falling apart, but it is a hero just the same.
Giant Spider (puppet) – One of the beasts that guard Sonya’s base, this giant spider spits rockets and knows martial arts. But the Giant Spider neglected to make himself flameproof, much to his doom.
Giant monster (Cardboard eyes and rubber foam hand) – A giant beast who guards Sonya. He’s so evil and so big, all we see is his eyes and a huge hand that grabs at the heroes.
Stone Monkey (guy in suit) – Yet another layer of defense of Sonya’s lair. You’d think with all these creatures, Sonya would have vast gardens of food for all of them. But he doesn’t, yet another failure for Sonya.

Siluman Teluk Gonggo
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Mr. Bean Kesurupan Depe (Review)

Mr. Bean Kesurupan Depe

Directed by Yoyok Dumprink

Mr. Bean Kesurupan Depe
He’s hopping his way to a lawsuit!

Could it be true? Could Rowan Atkinson be reprising his role as Mr. Bean in an obscure Indonesian pocong comedy? This thought rattled around the internet for a few hours, perpetrated by the producer behind Mr. Bean Kesurupan Depe, until the hoax unraveled and everyone realized this was too crazy to be true, even though it was just crazy enough to maybe be true. After having finally watched Mr. Bean Kesurupan Depe, I am left to wonder why they even bothered with the whole Mr. Bean hoax. In fact, I’m wondering why they even bothered with the film at all! It’s a very quick and dirty half an hour of story stuffed with some pointless filler and jokes that aren’t funny even if you’re Indonesian. The Mr. Bean plot has almost nothing to do with the rest of the film, aside from Mr. Bean occasionally leering at DePe’s character. This is after they’re both dead and pocongs, and while she’s a very very pregnant pocong. But let’s first give a bit of background.

Mr. Bean Kesurupan Depe
When you think Catwoman, you think skimpy-dressed schoolgirls!

Pocongs are a type of Indonesian folklore, bodies that are wrapped up in their kain kafan (burial shrouds.) They cannot move their legs, so they get around by hopping (like certain other Asian movie monsters) and spend their time spooking people. Recently, there have been a bunch of pocong comedies that have invaded the theaters of Indonesia, the local audience treating them much like how we in America treat the Seltzerberg (Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer) Movie “comedies”, by ignoring them as much as possible, but also wondering how they keep making enough money to justify more. Everyone from Indonesia I have mentioned these films to has had a reaction of utter disdain for the films and sad amazement that they’re beginning to get play outside of Indonesia.

Mr. Bean Kesurupan Depe
Too late, this is already messed up!

Besides using Mr. Bean for promotion, the main “plot” of the film centers on attending a concert by Catwoman, who in this universe is a famous Indonesian singer on par with Lady Gaga. She’s also played by DePe for added confusion, and also because DePe is an actress not afraid to run around in a skimpy Catwoman costume. As DePe was involved in some of the marketing without shooting down the rumor of Rowan Atkinson’s involvement, many consider her culpable in the fraud they accuse producer KK Dheeraj of. It’s also interesting that the most common comments on Indonesian movie blogs (besides calling this movie garbage) is saying not to blame Indonesian movie producers because KK Dheeraj is Indian. KK Dheeraj’s only attempt to keep from being sued seemed to be not including the title screen on the vcds and DVDs, even though the guy playing Mr. Bean is still credited as “Mister bean”! (Either that, or they just forgot to include the title!) The controversy did serve a purpose, as thousands of people who had never heard of the pocong comedy genre (or even pocongs!) now have a film to look out for. This review calling it awful will only increase the desire to watch it.

Make no mistake, Mr. Bean Kesurupan Depe is terrible. The plot is so thin, it is worshiped as an idol by those anorexia blogs. The actual “story” involving Marni and Parmin takes maybe 30 minutes total. To beef up the running time, Mr. Bean wanders around being “funny” for a bit. and even that wasn’t enough to fill up the running time so there is another pocong couple who add nothing to the film either. The entire movie is filler made to fill running time for filler. It’s like the Twilight Zone of pointless stories. I do give them props for being in focus.

Mr. Bean Kesurupan Depe
Oh, Knockoff Pocong Bean, you can do one charming thing.

Marni (DePe/Dewi Persik) – Hot young wife of Parmin who is very pregnant. She is a big fan of the famous singer Catwoman and begs Parmin to take her to see her. He relents, and they end up murdered on the way. As a pocong, she’s somehow still pregnant and they expect to have a bouncing baby pocong in a few weeks. Dewi Persik/Perssik is an Indonesian singer and actress who can’t seem to keep out of the scandal headlines. Between risque pictures, dance moves that offend conservative morons, physical altercations with other actresses, multiple marriages, and “secondary virginity” surgery, she’s almost constantly in the news.
Parmin (Doyok) – An older one-eyed rickshaw operator who married Marni despite every guy in town chasing after her, because she knew he was capable of doing good things. And as we find out in the end of the film, he does. Doyok is a comedic actor who has been active since 1985 in Indonesian movies and television. He’s also crossed over into more serious roles during times where comedies were less successful. Doyok once spent time in prison on drug charges.
Catwoman (DePe/Dewi Persik) – The most famous singer in the entire universe. You’ve obviously heard of her so there is no point is talking about her more.
Mr. Bean (William Ferguson) – It’s Mr. Bean! Except not. At all. This “Mr. Bean” is dead and a pocong, but periodically escapes to wander around the living world and cause trouble.
Mr. Bean Kesurupan Depe
Looks like someone saw the trailer for The Dark Knight Rises just in time for filming!

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The Raid: Redemption

The Raid: Redemption

aka Serbuan maut

Written and directed by Gareth Evans
Serbuan maut
One man, one building, hundreds of potential opponents. A police raid gone wrong, way wrong, sets up The Raid: Redemption, as the cops are wasted, leaving only a few stragglers to be slowly picked off. There will be no rescue, no backup, thanks to layers of corruption so thick they have to make the sequel about them. But no one counted on Rama being the best fighter in the universe.

The Raid was hyped as the most actiony action film that ever actioned, and then it actions some more. Well, I don’t know about all that, but it was pretty actiony. The fighting is intense and hardhanded, and quickly devolves to hand to hand combat. As the surviving cops’ numbers shrink and they are slowly hunted, the tension mounts up, keeping pace with the action.
Serbuan maut
The biggest problem with The Raid is the lack of good character development. The rudimentary structures are there, but aside from falling into some templates, the characters aren’t that rounded out. Rama is the good cop and son because he just is. Andi says he was a disappointment and is better at being a criminal…because he says so. If anything, only Mad Dog and the corrupt Wahyu have any sort of build beyond their templates. And while we don’t really need everyone to be fully nuanced, it’s nice to have some depth occasionally.

But still, the fighting is furious, the action is intense, and The Raid is one martial arts film you will watch again.
Serbuan maut

Rama (Iko Uwais) – Good cop and new member of the SWAT force enlisted to raid Tama’s building. Will do the right thing even if his supervisors disagree. Is also secretly searching for his brother Andi to take him back home.
Andi (Donny Alamsyah) – Rama’s older brother, who was a disappointment to his father and ran off to become a criminal boss. Is one of Tama’s chief lieutenants and handles the business aspects of the operations. No one besides Andi and Rama knows they are related, because it could be bad for both of them.
Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian) – Tama’s brutal enforcer who lives to fight and kill. Gets pleasure from ending the lives of others. Fiercely loyal to his boss. Both Andi and Mad Dog rightfully see each other as threats.
Tama (Ray Sahetapy) – The big baddie who controls the entire building and runs his drug operations through the city from there. Ruthless and demanding of loyalty to him above all others. Is also deeply invested in the corrupt police force and knows more about what is going on that actual police.
Jaka (Joe Taslim) – The Sergeant of the team that’s sent in to raid the building, he quickly realizes things are not what they seem and desperately tries to get as many of his men out alive as he can.

Serbuan maut
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Ferocious Female Freedom Fighters (1982)

Ferocious Female Freedom Fighters


Directed by Jopi Burnama & Charles Kaufman


Ferocious Female Freedom Fighters (1982)

Well, this is fun.

“Have you ever heard that little voice inside you say that there’s more to life than slamming another woman to the mat with incredible force?”

We continue our journey through the depths of Troma’s catalog this week with Ferocious Female Freedom Fighters, which contains two reliably Troma staples:

  1. The movie’s cover is a beautiful, buxom woman who appears nowhere in the film.
  2. The movie rips off a better known source but sprinkles in a lot more self congratulation and jokes about bodily functions.

Here we have the minds behind the scenes ripping off Woody Allen’s What’s Up Tiger Lily? If you don’t know that movie, a simple summation should suffice: Allen took a Japanese spy film and dubbed new dialogue and sound effects over the action.

That’s a pretty great way to make a cheap movie. Charles Kaufman seized upon this and decided to do the same. Since Charles Kaufman is the man who wrote and directed When Natures Call and not the man who wrote and directed Sleeper, the results are less than stellar.

Litmus test time: here’s the film’s signature joke. “What is brown with holes in it?”

If your response was “Swiss shit”, congratulations, that’s right. Now tell the joke about a dozen more times and you’re basically reenacting a large portion of the film.

That violates copyright laws. You could go to jail. (But I won’t tell.)

Bambi (Eva Arnez) – This is the main character. She doesn’t want to fight. But she does.
Barney (Barry Prima)– A kung fu fighter who talks like Elvis and fights kung fu. These are deep characters, you see.

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Mr. Bean hits Indonesia for Mr. Bean Kesurupan Depe!

Shockingly enough, this looks like it is either true, or producer KK Dheeraj has been pulling off one of the most elaborate hoaxes ever since March. I first saw the poster pop up on Twitch with their obvious confusion as to what is going on. But Mr Bean Kesurupan Depe (Mr Bean Possessed by Depe) appears to be real. Rowan Atkinson plays a pocong (those ghosts that wear sheets), while Depe (the nickname for actress Dewi Perssik) will be a catwoman-type character. Though Mr. Bean is in the title and the poster shows the Mr. Bean teddy bear, there is no way of knowing if this is an official Mr. Bean film (though I doubt it) or if Atkinson is just playing a Mr. Bean type character who also happens to be a ghost.

Beritasatu.com has been reporting on this since at least March, and has a very tiny photo of the two in costume (both dressed as pocongs) Depe also took tot he streets dressed as Catwoman on a motorcycle with a fake Mr. Bean pocong being dragged behind her. Yes, this actually happened somewhere.

Very little else about this film is available at this time. But we’ll keep you posted, because this is awesome.
Mr Bean Kesurupan Depe
Mr Bean Kesurupan Depe
Depe Catwoman
Mr Bean Kesurupan Depe

UPDATE: This turns out might not be Rowan Atkinson after all! Twitch user soimah has linked to posts on this Indonesian forum showing a picture of a guy dressed up as Mr. Bean that is decidedly NOT Rowan Atkinson. The posts on the forum have a weak argument back and forth as to if it is a hoax, though the general consensus seems to think it is. This means that KK Dheeraj managed to get actual hoax press articles published over months to build up interest in this film. It’s also bad for me, because I now have to apologize. I’m sorry I got anyone’s hopes up that this was real. Maybe there is a miracle and it is, but it’s probably not. It will still be crazy insane, though!

Fake Rowan Atkinson Indonesia