• Melissa Kartini

Movie Review: Wiro Sableng the Hero Who Has Gotten Indonesians in a Craze

Updated: Sep 27, 2018

  • Genre: Action/Adventure/Fantasy

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Language: Indonesian

  • Starring: Vino Bastian, Sherina Munaf, Marsha Timothy, Fariz Alfarizi, Happy Salma

If there is one film that has gotten Indonesians excited, it is "Wiro Sableng: Pendekar Kapak Maut Naga Geni 212", a film that is based on the Wiro Sableng novels by Bastian Tito, late father of actor Vino Bastian who plays Wiro Sableng in the film.

As though the fact that a well-renowned novel has been brought to the silver screen isn't exciting enough, "Wiro Sableng: Pendekar Kapak Maut Naga Geni 212" is also the first collaboration between an Indonesian studio and Fox International Production.

With so many big names already thrown into the mix, what can one expect from this Indonesian blockbuster?

What is it about?

It is the 16th century in Nusantara, and Wiro Sableng (Vino G. Bastian), who is a carefree young man in the mountains, is content to live his life training under his questionably sane mentor, Sinto Gendeng (Ruth Marini). One day, however, the life he has always known changes when he is tasked by Sinto to capture her treacherous former student, Mahesa Birawa (Yayan Ruhian). She also gifts him with a mystical axe, having decided that he is worthy of its powers.

Wiro accepts this task (and the magical axe, even more so) readily, unsuspecting of the fact that it was because of Mahesa that he does not have parents.

As he sets on a journey of a lifetime, Wiro not only discovers valuable friends, but also his true calling as a hero.

And like all heroes on such a journey, he is joined by his newfound friends, Anggini (Sherina Munaf) a cool ass warrior-in-training, and Bujang Gila Tapak Sakti (Fariz Alfarizi) a crazy guy who has no qualms about hitting on someone who is so obviously out of his league, or farting in front of everyone. Either one would do.

That said, even with Wiro's undeniable fighting capabilities and the combined strength of his faithful companions, is he ready to face the man who murdered his parents?

Is it worth a watch?

"Wiro Sableng: Pendekar Kapak Maut Naga Geni 212" starts off promisingly enough, with Mahesa and his band of black-hearted warriors attacking a village. It is during this killing spree that he murders Wiro's parents in cold-blood- even going as far as throwing young Wiro, still a mere child at the time, into a gulf of flames. Mahesa's evil intention fails, however, as his former mentor, Sinto, steps in at the very final moment.

She saves Wiro, and with that, effectively begins the story of our hero.

Now, I'll be honest with you, I'm not the biggest fan of "Wiro Sableng: Pendekar Kapak Maut Naga Geni 212". There, I said it. This feels painfully obvious too whilst standing in the midst of so many of those who ardently adore the film. Why don't I love the film as well? Everyone else does.

But hear me out, because I do have my reasons.

First of all, "Wiro Sableng: Pendekar Kapak Maut Naga Geni 212" is not without its gems. It is laden with a beautiful fantasy setting, a breathtaking landscape and many characters that just have so much potential. There is Anggini, who again, is a cool tomboy warrior-in-training with nifty cloth wraps that can strangle you if she wants them to. There is Bujang Gila Tapak Sakti, who is a stumpy guy who provides plenty of humour to the film- most of which are fart-related, much to the dismay of Anggini and Wiro. There are also plenty of other side characters with intriguing backgrounds that speak for the richness of the setting of "Wiro Sableng: Pendekar Kapak Maut Naga Geni 212".

But all of this is for naught due to poor execution. The dynamics between most of the characters seem pretty forced and therefore awkward, and there are lots of improvements that could've been done in terms of camerawork. "Wiro Sableng: Pendekar Kapak Maut Naga Geni 212" is also laden with many scenes and jokes that seem really out of place, resulting in the disruption of the story flow. These could have been done away with, or at least done in a way that is more natural.

If you ask me, the one shining beacon in "Wiro Sableng: Pendekar Kapak Maut Naga Geni 212", other than the setting itself, is Anggini, who seems to be the only character that makes sense in the film. She is grounded, has depth and unlike the majority of the other prominent characters, is driven by logic.

Oh, and there is also the existence of Raja Kamandaka (Dwi Sasono), who is basically the Indonesian version of Aquaman, but I digress.

BONUS: Gratuitous picture of the Indonesian Aquaman

Are you still interested in watching "Wiro Sableng: Pendekar Kapak Maut Naga Geni 212"? Let me know in the comments below!

"Wiro Sableng: Pendekar Kapak Maut Naga Geni 212" is in cinemas 27 September 2018!

Showing at select cinemas near you

Written by Crunch's Melissa Kartini

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