In Minangkabau, West Sumatra, Yuda a skilled practitioner of Silat Harimau is in the final preparations to begin his 'merantau,' a century's old rites of passage carried out by the community's young men which will see him leave the comforts of his village and make a name for him in the bustling city of Jakarta. After a series of setbacks, Yuda is left homeless and uncertain about his new future. Later on, he encounters an orphan named Astri and protects him from becoming a victim of a European human trafficking ring led by Ratger and his right-hand man Luc. With Ratger injured in the melee, he seeks both the boy and bloody retribution. Yuda is then forced to go on the run with Astri and her younger brother Adit. In the end, he has no choice but to face his attackers in an adrenaline charged finale.
Review By Nur Safina Othman
This is one movie that's worth waiting for from Indonesia! Featuring the art of self defence known as silat, the story is based on a Minangkabau tradition called merantau about a boy who must go on a trip far away from family to gain experience, good or bad, to mould him in becoming a real man. Yuda (Iko Uwais), a young man who studies Silat Hraimau and travels to Jakarta to start his own merantau. However, rather than finding a job there, Yuda instead tries to save a girl's life named Astri (Sisca Jessica) who is almost kidnapped by a group of criminals for sex trade purposes.
What's interesting about this movie is that it's directed by a British director and that the main character is played by a newcomer who has no experience in acting whatsoever. Gareth Evans, a martial arts fan was given a chance to direct "Merantau Warrior" after he directed a documentary for the same production company, Christine Hakim Films which was also about silat, "The Mystic Arts Of Indonesia: Pencak Silat". Still a newbie in the film industry, Evans managed to pull off a good first feature film. Moreover, it's the action sequences would have you in awe even though the pacing for the first half an hour is slow and dull.
Before being given an opportunity to act in the movie, Iko Uwais studied Silat Tiga Berantai since he was 10 years old. Although "Merantau Warrior" marks his film debut, this ex-lorry driver's acting does not disappoint and he is able to execute his action stunts convincingly. This reviewer believes that with this movie, he's able to launch his career as a full-fledged action star. Overall, the line-up of other cast members such as Yusuf Aulia as Adit, Mads Koudal (Ratger), Laurent 'Lohan' Buson (Luc) and Sisca Jessica do not disappoint, as they are all able to play their roles effectively. Respected actress Christine Hakim is also involved in this movie, playing Wulan, Yuda's mother. However, it's disappointing to note that there are not that many scenes involving her in this movie.
Classified as 18PL, viewers will not be disappointed with this action movie. Even though both director and star are newcomers, this is only the beginning of their careers. What's confirmed is that this won't mark as Iko and Evans' last collaboration together, as Iko has revealed to be starring in Evans' next film project, "Berandal".
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