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Canadian Premiere

  • Indonesia 2009
  • 112 min
  • 35mm
  • Indonesian with English subtitles
WINNER: Best Film, Action Fest 2010
Official selection, Fantastic Fest 2009


Martial ArtsAction / Adventure

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"Not only Uwais's physical skills are remarkable but he's also a very capable and charismatic actor" – Guillem Rosset, TWITCH

"... that final fight scene is one of the best I’ve seen" – Cole Abaius, FILM SCHOOL REJECTS


Director: Gareth Huw Evans
Screenplay: Gareth Huw Evans
Cast: Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Jessica Sisca
Producers: Ario Sagantoro
Print Source: PT Merantau Films



Yuda, an affable youth of the Minangkabau culture of Sumatra, leaves his beloved mother, brother and hometown behind in order to follow the centuries-old tradition of the Merantau, a rite of passage which dictates that young men must prove their manhood by traveling abroad to face hardships that will strengthen their character. Upon arriving in Jakarta, he is dismayed to find the home where he was to find shelter has been torn down and that he has been left to his own devices. Trouble comes his way quickly enough when he makes the acquaintance of Adit, a young thief, and his sister Astri. The young woman is being taken advantage of by her employer Johni, and Yuda steps in as her protector. The trio find themselves running for their lives when it is revealed that Johni was setting Astri up to be sold to a European sex-slave operation. The only thing keeping the girl and her brother alive is Yuda’s remarkable skill in Indonesian martial arts.

It’s been more than 15 years since a martial-arts movie was made in Indonesia, so the expectations for MERANTAU ran high. The results are now in and MERANTAU delivers the goods. Iko Uwais, as Yuda, proves himself to be a skilled actor and the storyline, simple but effective, builds to a dramatic conclusion. When the action gets going, it’s an almost non-stop rollercoaster ride, with each new battle scene more spectacular than the last. It showcases the impressive and ancient silat harimau (“tiger fighting style”), a variation of the combat techniques of Southeast Asia specific to the Minangkabau. That’s a cinematic first, and the stuntmen involved really earned their pay. Not since the early days of Jackie Chan films have so many obviously real injuries occurred in the action sequences. Heads and limbs make brutal contact with tables, steel pipes and wheelbarrows as the people involved give new meaning to the idea of suffering for your art! By the way, Fantasia team member Todd Brown (also of twitchfilm.net) served as associate producer and co-editor of the international version of MERANTAU.

—Robert Guillemette

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