Movie News & Reviews

‘Headshot’ is head-to-toe mayhem, Indonesian style

An amnesiac (Iko Uwais) can’t remember his name, but he sure knows how to fight.
An amnesiac (Iko Uwais) can’t remember his name, but he sure knows how to fight.

In the universe of close-quarters brawling where the characters in the appropriately titled “Headshot” reside, telephones, typewriters, desks and, of course, paper cutters are meant to be used for only one thing: weaponry. After sitting through nearly two hours of all the slicing, dicing and head-slamming, you’ll never look at office furniture the same way again.

This lethally brutal exercise in Indonesian martial arts mayhem — featuring the charismatic Iko Uwais (“The Raid” franchise), a living, breathing action figure and Indonesia’s best-known martial arts star — is definitely not for the squeamish, nor anyone who has just eaten lunch.

Uwais plays a man in a coma who is found by a villager washed up on a beach. When he wakes up in a hospital, he discovers he has no memory of who he is, so the doctor who seems to have no other patients, Ailin (Chelsea Islan), decides to cheekily call him Ishmael. Well, he turns out to be her white whale in ways she’s not expecting.

His real name is Abdi, and he has been raised since childhood as a killer by the vicious Lee (Sunny Pang), who, along with his equally bloodthirsty posse, are on the hunt for this memory-impaired prodigal son. Heaven help you if you get in his way, or happen to be his caretaker.

Action fans are going to draw comparisons to “The Raid” because of the setting and the star. Yet unlike “The Raid,” directed with a breathtaking, heart-pumping brio by Gareth Evans, “Headshot” is helmed by the seemingly more sadistic Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto (formerly the Mo Brothers), the Australian-trained Indonesian filmmaking duo known for the wantonly violent 2014 film “Killers.” The brutally straightforward and too-long “Headshot” lacks the brilliant action choreography of “The Raid.”

Stamboel and Tjahjanto instead opt for a close-up intensity, all the better to feel every stabbing, shooting, eye-gouging and head butt. It makes for a sometimes off-putting experience that will make you pine for the long-promised third “Raid” film and jittery the next time you need to pick up office supplies.

(At Screenland Crossroads.)



Not rated. Time: 1:58.

In Indonesian and English with subtitles