Review – Headshot (2016)

‘The Raid: Redemption’ and ‘Mile 22’ star Iko Uwais is a knockout in 2016’s ‘Headshot’!

by Nile Fortner

Star of the action-packed Indonesian flick The Raid: Redemption and The Raid 2, Iko Uwais now stars in the new Mark Walberg and John Malkovich film, Mile 22. The new action thriller directed by Peter Berg (Lone Survivor) once again brings Uwais to the hard-hitting action cinema that has made him a well-known worldwide action-star. While Mile 22 is expected to be a hit at the box-office due to the leading performances, I have decided to go back and think of Uwais as a leading man. Uwais is known for one of the best action films in years, The Raid: Redemption and the sequel The Raid 2, is without a doubt a great leading man in action movies. On the other hand, one film that seems to not have gotten as much praise as ‘The Raid’ films is the 2016 Indonesian film, Headshot.

Much like The Raid movies, Headshot brings back Uwais in a beat-em-up bloodbath brawl action film. This is a movie with an 80’s plot, but directed in a way with more style in fight scenes and cinematography. Headshot focuses on a man suffering from amnesia (Uwais) washing ashore and a young nurse helps him with his health. The man, known as Abdi/Ishmael, has flashbacks of his past, the nurse is kidnapped, and the kidnappers may play a bigger role in the man’s life than he can remember.

Loaded with a ton of kick-ass martial arts and solid cinematography, fans of The Raid and action films will not be disappointed. The reason I say this has a 1980’s plot is that this feels like a film that Schwarzenegger or Stallone would have done at that time. The plot is a little weak, sometimes predictable, and like some 1980’s flicks the characters are somewhat one-dimensional. However, Headshot delivers the goods on the brawls and choreography that fans love so much. The directing duo known as The Mo Brothers, step away from Indonesian horror (Macabre and Killers) and prove they can be more than just exceptional horror directors, but exceptional action directors as well. Even though the action and choreographer aren’t as good as The Raid, it still packs a lot of tension, it isn’t shaky cam, and we can actually tell what is happening on screen during the punching, kicking, and clobbering.

This film has violence you’d see in a gore-fest horror film. While Uwais is trying to save the nurse, he doesn’t just fight the bad guys, it’s more of torture at times. People try to burn him alive, stab him repeatedly, bones have a sickening crackle, and it really keeps viewers on the edge of their seat, clutching their chest, and wrapped in tension. It is a little over the top and unrealistic with the amount of gushing pain these people go through.

Speaking of tension, the choreography and editing create some of the best tension I’ve seen in action movies in recent memory. The editing is quick and cut fast to the point where viewers can’t tell what is happening. It all seems to be one continuous shot of fight scenes. Fight scenes we have seen before of two guys frozen in fear, bad guy smirks even though his tongue is soaked in the taste of blood, and followed by rapid blows.

The cast did a good job, even though as I mentioned earlier some of the characters are a little one-dimensional. Co-star star Julie Estelle, who played ‘Hammer Girl’ in The Raid once again works with Uwais and The Mo Brothers. She gets to shine a little bit more in Headshot when compared to her non-speaking ass-whopping character ‘Hammer Girl’. Another co-star Very Tri Yulisman plays a cool killer hipster and once again proves he can work well in fighting roles.  A lot of fans say that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson along with other cast members of The Fast and Furious franchise are today’s mainstream action-stars, much like how Stallone and Schwarzenegger were back in the day. Even though I do agree with those fans, I also believe Iko Uwais is the same boat as an action icon much like Stallone, Statham, Schwarzenegger, among the many others.

The brutal bloodbath action film Headshot does lack in-depth characters; on the other hand, it’s orgasmic to action-movie fans such as myself. The camera work is well-done, but sometimes you can notice the handheld camera work. For instance, when our main character escapes a burning bus by jumping out the window, the handheld camera work is noticeable and a little dizzy only in some scenes. I’d definitely check this film out if you’re wanting an introduction to Indonesian action-movies or Iko Uwais before you see him in his latest film Mile 22. This is a film I can’t wait to see, add it to my collection, and I can’t wait to give Headshot a…

4.5 out of 5 Hairpieces!

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