Headshot

Review by David Jenkins @daveyjenkins

Directed by

Kimo Stamboel Timo Tjahjanto

Starring

David Hendrawan Iko Uwais Julie Estelle

Anticipation.

Iko Uwais is an incredible athlete, but can the dude act?

Enjoyment.

He gets to reveal his acting chops a little more, but the inexorable fight sequences drag like nothing else.

In Retrospect.

Does what it does very well, and nothing more than that.

Eye-watering violence is the dish of the day in this stylish though ultra-formulaic martial arts runaround.

This is a film whose makers channel all of their creative energies into devising visual variations of men punching other men (and occasionally women) about the body and face. Aside from the occasional dash of excitement, it seems that, when all is said and done, a punch is a punch is a punch. And there’s no amount of physical agility, wild camera twitching or slow-mo bloodletting that can prevent a prolonged fist fight from becoming very boring, very quickly.

Master killer Iko Uwais stars as damaged dullard Ishmael, a confused young man who washes up on a beach with a mysterious surgery scar snaking across his cranium. He then slips into a pair of power blue Vans and loose-fitting camo green singlet, and before he’s had a chance to gather his marbles, a procession of gurning, tattoo-covered minions/punching bags are having at him with guns, knives and telescopic batons.

With its computer game-like narrative dynamic, Headshot sees Ishmael stagger from one boss level to the next, eventually arriving at a stock bunker location, sliced-up and whimpering, where he takes on the really nasty bastard at the end of the trail. Writer/directors Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto string together set pieces with maximum efficiency and minimum drama, teeing up a stock love interest early on to supply the hero with his death-defying drive.

Uwais is best known as star of Gareth Evans’ The Raid films, in which his astonishing martial arts prowess was first revealed to the world. And attempts have certainly been made to parlay his particular set of skills into visually arresting sequences. But following a nifty escape from a burning bus, the film swiftly settles into tedious mano-y-mano match-ups where the same special moves are executed ad infinitum and to seemingly diminishing and anonymous effect. Though for consequence-free screen violence junkies, this will certainly have its charms.

Published 3 Mar 2017

Tags: Iko Uwais

Anticipation.

Iko Uwais is an incredible athlete, but can the dude act?

Enjoyment.

He gets to reveal his acting chops a little more, but the inexorable fight sequences drag like nothing else.

In Retrospect.

Does what it does very well, and nothing more than that.

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