PREMAN: SILENT FURY – Review
PREMAN: SILENT FURY is a subtitled Indonesian action film that is a relative novelty among the mostly high-octane martial arts and shootouts that cross the Pacific from several Asian countries for our entertainment. This one features a deaf character (Farell Akbar) who is a member of the eponymous criminal organization, who tries to quit and change his ways, mainly so his young son (Muzakki Ramdhan) can grow up in a better environment than he did.
According to the filmmakers, “Preman,” which is Dutch for “free man,” is a real type of Indonesian gangsters “who claim to be motivated by a deep sense of justice but are despised by society of their bullying and violent behavior.”
When they witness their gang’s leader (Kiki Narendra) killing a respected elder, that’s the last straw for the duo, and they try to get out of Dodge ASAP. But that puts bull’s-eyes on their backs as annoying loose ends to be eliminated. Narendra summons a skilled contract killer, Ramon (Revaldo), to track them down and finish them off. Ramon becomes the film’s most interesting character, as a fey salon owner who sidelines in stylish, graceful executions on demand. He would have fit beautifully in a comedy like KUNG FU HUSTLE, based on both the humor and serious action he brings to this vehicle.
Impaired protagonists are not new to the genre. The 1970s Hong Kong martial arts factories cranked out dozens of flicks with blind, deaf, mute or one-armed heroes. But this one is more somber and low-key in its tone than those were. The fights are a relatively small part of its running time, with the father-son bond, and the hero’s flashbacks to seminal events in his youth holding sway. Writer/director Randolph Zaini aimed more for dramatic character depth than most of his contemporaries. His success depends on the viewers’ expectations.
Those seeking a pure adrenaline rush can do much better elsewhere. The fights in PREMAN are relatively realistic – no wires or CGI effects – but not particularly well-staged. The camera and editing combo left us with sequences of lesser clarity, duration and impact than most. Those who want a larger dose of heavy-duty drama in the mix will find more cerebral and non-visceral emotional nourishment. As a bonus, Ramdhan’s contributions to the effort show considerable promise for such a young actor, and the film’s 92-minute running time completes the mission with admirable efficiency.
PREMAN: SILENT FURY, in Indonesian with English subtitles, is available streaming on Hi-YAH! and in DVD, Blu-ray and digital formats starting Tuesday, Sept. 27.
RATING: 2 out of 4 stars