With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

GUNDALA comes to Digital, Blu-ray™ and DVD today, July 28, 2020

Well Go USA
Written and Directed by Joko Anwar
Based on the comic by Harya Suraminata
Indonesia, 2019, 124 minutes

Gundala is a superhero origin film based on a popular Indonesian comic book first published in 1969. It debuts today, July 28th, on Digital, Blu-ray™ and DVD from Well Go USA Entertainment. This review is based on watching the Blu-ray version.

As a young boy, Sancaka (here played by Muzakki Ramdhan) is orphaned and forced to struggle to survive on the mean streets of Jakarta. He is saved from a beating by a gang of other youths by the somewhat older Awang, who proceeds to train him in the martial arts. Awang also advises Sancaka to not get involved in other people’s affairs and problems, warning him that if he does, his life “will be shitty.” Alas, the two are separated when Sancaka can’t get on the moving train on which Awang is leaving the city.

Years later, as a young man, Sancaka (now portrayed by Abimana Aryasatya) works at the printing house of The Djakarta Times. The political and economic scene is controlled by Haidas Subandi, the head of the underworld and, like Sancaka, an orphan. In flashback we learn how Subandi, better known as Pengkor, lost his family and fortune, and how he received the burn scar on the side of his face.

Seeing the effects of injustice and corruption on people he has come to care about, the adult Sancaka finds he cannot continue to embrace Awang’s advice, but must intervene on behalf of the downtrodden victims. Fortunately, as it turns out, he and lightening have an affinity for each other, and being struck by lightening gives Sancaka superpowers to fight evil.

There is plenty of action in this fine film. The dominant fighting style is Silat, a class of martial arts from the Indonesian archipelago that includes many styles and schools, which tend to focus on either strikes, joint manipulation, weaponry, or a some combination of them. Street fighting is also in evidence, as are some other Asian martial arts.

There’s a coda mid-way through the end credits that sets the stage for the next film in what is planned as an eight film franchise. (Think Marvel Universe, only in Indonesia.) Given what a fine beginning the series has in Gundala, one can only hope that the series continues to a satisfying point, even if all eight films are not made or distributed in North America..

Disc Specs:
— Audio:
  — Indonesian DTS-HDMA 5.1
  — Indonesian Stereo
  — English DTS-HDMA 5.1
  — English Stereo
— Subtitles:
  — English
  — Off
— Bonus:
  — Behind the Scenes
  — Production Vlog
  — International Trailer
  — U.S. Trailer
— Previews:
  — Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula Teaser
  — Cut Throat City
  — Enter the Fat Dragon

AsianCineFest Rating: 3 out of 4 stars; good film

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