OldKingClancy posted a MOVIE REVIEW item: 18 days ago



Directed by: Kimo Stamboel
Written by: Timo Tjahjanto
Cast: Iko Uwais
Genre: Action, Comedy, Drama, Foreign Film
Official Site:
Plot: [Insert any 90s Action Film Plot Here]


Headshot was always going to have an uphill battle, using the same main actor, the same fighting style and the same ultra-violent action scenes as The Raid franchise while not actually being a Raid film was always going to work against it. Without Evans signature touch behind the camera, all Headshot needed to do was be entertaining and well-made, while it serves its purpose as a fun action film it falls to too many genre problems to be as memorable or as visceral as the franchise it’s aping.

The film starts with a man awaking from a coma suffering from amnesia, with not even his name on hand he gives himself the moniker of Ishmael, due to his carer Dr Ailin reading Moby Dick. When recently escaped mob boss ‘Lee’ learns of Ishmael’s awakening, he sends his goons out to take care of him, resulting in Ishmael’s muscle memory kicking in and beating them with skills he didn’t know he had. With Ailin’s help he tries to recover his memory and of his supposed past with ‘Lee’, but when ‘Lee’ kidnaps Ailin, Ishmael has to fight to save her, without even knowing if he can fight.

That’s pretty much the entire basis of the story, once Ailin is kidnapped the film basically becomes a video-game with Ishmael having to fight increasingly difficult boss battles to try and save the girl. On a simplicity level that’s enough for an action film but that’s really all there is to it, the amnesia angle adds something extra but that’s almost as worn as the damsel in distress card. It’s a shame because the opening act which hinted at Ishmael and Ailin working together to unlock his memories did feel like a stronger, more investigative story as opposed to the done-and-dusted cliché it ends up being.

Because Ailin is kidnapped she’s absent for most of the film, which again is a shame because her near immediate wish to help Ishmael and her fascination over who he is endeared her enough to want to see her grow rather than just be relegated to love interest.

‘Lee’ – not his real name but the only one he’s given – did have some solid villain moments, clearly relishing in his ability to control a room without lifting a finger, but for like the rest of the film we’ve seen this type of bad guy before. Of course none of that takes away from his performance which is one of the better aspects of the film and he does have the physical prowess to back up his confidence but he was definitely a villain that was portrayed through their goons but for the amount that Ishmael fights, there’s actually only a couple to stand out, the first being Besi who uses a baton to beat people’s face in, the other being Rika (played by The Raid 2 star Julie Estelle) the lone female goon with a heart even colder than Lee’s.

Iko Uwais is the star of the film as Ishmael and I already knew his proficiency with martial arts from The Raid and that’s clearly on show again here but I’ll give him credit for his acting chops. He’s not channelling Daniel Day Lewis but he adds enough to Ishmael to give the character more depth, little things like how he trembles to keep from going too far with hurting someone or how effortlessly he’s able to take the upper-hand with realising it, all elements that added to his amnesic character and the training he didn’t know he had. It’s not a tough role but Uwais pulls it off well.

The film is directed by The Mo Brothers who had admitted to never directing an action film before and that does show mainly in them copying The Raid’s style but to their credit they capture most of what made The Raid work, no quick-cuts, fluid camera movement with the action and plenty of Hard-R brutality. On that front alone if you’re looking for something quick, easy and violent then this is pretty much what you need, nothing as iconic as what The Raid managed of course but enjoyable in their own right with a fight on-board a burning bus and Ishmael’s escape from a police station being two highlights.

If I sounds like I’m lacking the effort to review this film it’s because there’s really only so many ways I can say ‘It’s not The Raid’ before even I get bored of reading it. The fact is that on its own merits, Headshot is an entertaining but ultimately forgettable and clichéd entry into the action genre, worthy of checking out once then forgetting about the week later, its story has been done in every action film from 1983 to 1997, it hits the same beats that have been done before and better and even the best thing about it, the fight sequences, are basically lesser versions of what The Raid did before. It was always an uphill battle but they don’t quite make it.



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