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Showing 1-10 of 60 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 82 reviews
on March 4, 2015
My husband had read of very good reviews for the movies The Raid and The Raid 2, with the same 2 principle actors and director, Welshman Gareth Evans. Merantau was made before those movies and could be considered to be a prequel. Poor country boy goes to big city, Jakarta, to spread his wings and make some money but runs afoul of the local thugs. Intro the pencak silat, an Indonesian martials arts form, drug running and white slavery lords from the West, a girl and a kid and our hero, all tossed together in an urgent, violent, bloody, boy-meets-girl fight for life.

I didn't enjoy it as much as the 2 later movies and found myself bored by the plot at times. I prefer my action films to be packed, cartoonishly bloody and damn the plot, lets blow things up sorts. It was better to see the later 2 movies and then Merantau, because I probably wouldn't have watched the Raid movies had I watched Merantau first. Iko Uwais had never acted before, Gareth Evans had filmed only documentaries, which lets you see them begin to become actor and director. My husband thought it was just fine on its own.
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on October 7, 2016
Iko Uwais in his first major role, which is a very good start to his movie career. Also making an appearance is another martial arts great, Yayan Ruhian. A good, but re-hashed plot of good vs evil, but the hero doesn't use guns, grenades or knives as his weapon of choice, but his martial arts of Silat. I recommend this movie for martial arts fans.
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on August 26, 2015
This could have been the Raid...if the Raid didn't exist. The fight scenes are just as good, & if you thought the Raids' "story" was way too simple but in a good way then you'll definitely like this movie. Granted the amount of blood & gore is extremely toned down, but I didn't see that as a bad thing at all. I never appreciate gun play in films that's supposed to be mostly if not all about the hand to hand combat skills anyway. It's just not necessary & this film definitely proves both points beautifully.
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on September 3, 2017
I like this movie. It had a great story line - undergoing Merantau, a traditional rite of passage. They grow up practicing their martial arts and it is action galore when the bad guys show up. The never ending story line of good versus evil. I enjoyed this movie very much.
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on July 22, 2014
I am a big fan of The Raid and The Raid 2, so I decided to check out their earlier work and I was not disappointed. This movie is stylish((not to mention gorgeous to look at)), very well acted, and surprisingly emotional. As in The Raid 2, I greatly appreciated the small touches with the main antagonist to give them depth and humanity.

As always, Iko does not disappoint as a leading man and the supporting actors are simply amazing, especially the actress who plays Astri, who has several key moments where she must carry the weight of a scene without using dialog. Be sure to watch this movie with the Indonesian track, as the dub does not do these performances justice.

And finally, the fight choreography is stunning. It starts out rather small and slowly builds until you find yourself wincing in sympathy every 6 seconds as the fights get more and more vicious as the stakes grow higher. These guys know how to film a fight scene.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon November 12, 2011
Should you learn that the guy you're about to brawl with hails from some humble village in the boonies, it's best to back away slowly. As demonstrated by characters played by Tony Jaa and even Bruce Lee (in WAY OF THE DRAGON) and now by newcomer Iko Uwais, them farm boys from the sticks are not to be trifled with. Here's MERANTAU, Indonesia's try at getting relevant on the martial arts scene. And while the asskickery is noteworthy, the actual story predictably lets you down. What, can't William Goldman pen a kung fu screenplay? Get off your high horse, William Goldman!

But William Goldman did not write the screenplay for MERANTAU. Instead, it was some dude named Gareth Evans (who also directed the film). And so what we get is pacing that is lethargic and plot points that have been beaten down to death. The narrative essentially acts as a framing device for the fighty fights. But if you're a fighty fight fan - and who isn't? - then you can probably shrug off the sluggish storytelling. In rural West Sumatera an age-old rite of passage called "merantau" is observed. In a custom of self-discovery, the young adult male must depart from home and venture abroad to prove his worth. Yuda (Iko Uwais) embarks on his merantau, making a beeline for the bustling city of Jakarta. But, once there, he learns that his intended digs has been burnt down to the ground, the rest of his pre-arranged plans shredded away. In the big city Yuda had hung his hat on teaching the local martial arts of Silat. Hard to do that when you're abruptly homeless.

Things really go south when Yuda rescues a young dancer/stripper named Astri and he ends up caught in a running battle with an over-the-top Euro-nasty (Mads Koudal) plying the skin trade. As the film's big bad, Mads Koudal is such a relentless ham that fellow actors of Danish heritage like Viggo Mortensen and Scarlett Johansson are hanging their heads in shame. Even Brigitte Nielsen is mortified.

One problem is the imbalance in pace. The film's deliberate first hour crawls along as the screenplay writer (who isn't William Goldman) insists on immersing the viewer into Yuda's culture and local customs. Conversely, the second half dispenses with plot altogether and is pretty much one sequence after another showcasing Iko Uwais' smooth application of Silat. Iko Uwais handles himself okay with his dialogue but he shines most when he's doling out the asswhippings. No, his style isn't as visceral or acrobatic as Tony Jaa's bonebruising Muay Thai. But he brings his own sense of grace and elegance to the table. It helps that the combat sequences, which are damn entertaining, are staged to feature Uwais in as many full body shots as possible so there's no doubting that it's him performing all the moves. My favorite is probably the no-holds-barred tussle held in the confined space of an elevator. It adds a measure of believability that Uwais doesn't emerge from every skirmish unscathed. He absorbs his own share of punishment; he doesn't duck every blow. With Jaa's having fled to become a hermit in the wilds, the slot for the world cinema's most dynamic martial artist is wide open. I will say that, during the bits where you actually have to act, Iko Uwais exudes a more charismatic presence than Jaa. MERANTAU also features the calling card of the meager-budgeted, practical effects-heavy martial arts picture: we're treated to several wince-inducing collisions between Uwais's opponents and hurtful surfaces such as cement floors and wheelbarrows and the ubiquitous glass table. Good times.
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on December 12, 2016
One of the best martial arts movies ever...probably looked over by most. Great plot and story as well as action packed.
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on July 4, 2015
Good first go around movie for Gareth Evans. It's not as wonderfully chaotic as The Raid movies but as I said it's his first go around. The story is reminiscent of Ong Bak 1, however he is on a rite of passage (meaning of 'Merantau') instead of looking for a stolen item. I was surprised how skilled the main villains were at the climax because there were no, if any, hints on their knowledge of martial arts during the movie. Still, great ending fight! ***Spoiler: I had a problem though with Yuda's resolution.
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on June 19, 2017
Decent movie.
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on May 12, 2016
Awesome movie with plenty of Peking Silat. Good story-line and a good movie to watch to learn about Indonesian culture.
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