Merantau (Blu-ray) (2009)
Deleted Scenes-x 2
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-x 10
Featurette-Fight Scene Comparison
Featurette-That Bamboo Stunt
Trailer-Eastern Eye Trailers x 4
|Year Of Production||2009|
|Running Time||111:47 (Case: 107)|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Gareth Evans|
Fajar Yuskemal Tamin
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
Indonesian DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Indonesian Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Yuda (Iko Uwais) is a skilled practitioner of the Indonesian martial arts called silat who lives with his mother Wulan (Christine Hakim) and older brother Yayan (Donny Alamsyah) in West Sumatra. In West Sumatran culture there is a rite of passage called Merantau; young men leave home and go to the city to prove themselves before returning. It is now time for Yuda to go and he bids goodbye to his mother and the idyllic rural life and travels to Jakarta planning to teach silat for a living. But things don’t go according to plan; the house where he was to stay had been demolished and Yuda has little money and nowhere to stay so he sleeps rough in a construction site.
When street kid Adit (Yusuf Aulia) steals Yuda’s wallet, Yuda chases him through the alleyways and is on hand to see Adit’s sister Astri (Sisca Jessica), a dancer in a cheap nightclub, being slapped around by her employer Johni (Alex Abbad). Yuda rescues her, but that is only the start of their troubles: Johni was procuring girls for white slavers Ratger (Mads Koudal) and Luc (Laurent Buson) and Ratger is in no mood to let Astri escape. With an army of thugs looking for them on the street, Yuda is attacked and Astri recaptured. The stage is set for a violent life or death confrontation as Yuda takes on all comers in the explosive climax.
Merantau is an oddity; an Indonesian martial arts film by Welsh director Gareth Evans. But don’t let that deter you because this is a wonderful martial arts film, full of dynamic fight sequences using wires and real fighters, where the moves, kicks, punches and blocks are clearly shown without the slick quick intercutting that plagues so many action films these days. There are fights in a nightclub, across rooftops and bamboo scaffolding, in a lift and finally in, around and on top of shipping containers. The fights are inventive and varied using a number of different styles, but are mostly hand to hand. The film is really quite old fashioned, reminiscent of the wonderful Hong Kong Golden Harvest martial arts films of the 1980s when Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Yuan Biao where in their fighting prime. More recently, of course, Tony Jaa and Ong Bak have been the inheritors of this martial arts tradition; now they are joined by Iko Uwais.
Uwais is fabulous. He looks great, has screen charisma and is athletic with genuine fighting skills. He is helped by the fact that Merantau takes its time to set up the Sumatran background which provides both the grounding of Uwais’ character and the contrast to the teeming, jumbled back streets and alleys of Jakarta. If Mads Koudal is rather cartoonish as the main villain, the remainder of the Indonesian cast are natural and convincing, including Sisca Jessica, Yusuf Aulia, Christine Hakim as the mother and Yayna Ruhian in a small but vital role as a rival silat practitioner.
Other plusses for the film are the atmospheric music and the Jakarta locations. Aria Prayogi and Fajar Yuskemal Tamin use a combination of Asian and Western instruments to provide a haunting accompaniment to the film, loud in the action sequences but atmospheric in the quieter moments. The film uses only a few indoor sets, which is just as well as the nightclub and various offices looked particularly poor and flimsy. But once the film moves out into the streets, alleyways and tenements of Jakarta, teeming with traffic and life, it looks great, and the scenes with Yuda in his hide in the pipes of the construction site, with the high rise buildings of Jakarta in the background, are beautiful.
With a charismatic star, intense fighting sequences, good acting, great locations and a wonderful score, Merantau is new Asian cinema in the raw. If you liked Ong Bak or the classic Hong Kong martial arts films you will love Merantau. The release of The Raid, the more recent collaboration between Gareth Evans and Iko Uwais, has been taken as an opportunity to release Merantau on Blu-ray. I previously reviewed the DVD on this site here. If you missed this one on DVD, and like martial arts done well, seek it out, you will not be disappointed.
Merantau is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the original ratio being 1.85:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.
The picture is occasionally soft and some shadow detail was lost. The DVD had quite garish colours in a number of sequences and these seem to have been boosted further by the Blu-ray’s greater resolution. One expects garish colours in the nightclub, but the outside night scenes in Jakarta have a blue overlay. The result is some beautiful colour, such as the blue on the construction pipes, but the black hair of the cast also takes on a blue hue as well. In the climax, a battle on red containers, the red is also boosted, which gives skin tones an unnatural mottled look (see 101:35). The boosted colours also lead to colour bleed in some places. In contrast, the Sumatran scenes were very green.
Marks were not present. There was however motion blur against a number of vertical lines (such as 67:59) and some aliasing, such as the red curtains at 46:38.
The film has sections in English. For the Indonesian dialogue, English subtitles are provided in a clear yellow font that contained no obvious spelling or grammatical errors.
Audio is a choice of Indonesian DTS-MA HD 5.1 at 1626 Kbps or Indonesian LPCM 2.0 at 1536. The dialogue is clear amid the action effects; punches and kicks thud into bodies and the surrounds were constantly in use for music and effects, with occasional panning effects in the rears such as doors closing. The sub woofer mostly supported the music.
The music by Aria Prayogi and Fajar Yuskemal Tamin uses mainly percussion in the action sequences but utilises both Asian and Western instruments in the slower interludes. This is a great, atmospheric soundtrack and comes across nicely in the mix.
I did not notice any lip synchronisation issues.
|Surround Channel Use|
All the extras on the DVD are carried over to the Blu-ray with a few minor additions.
Fairly superficial. A bit about the story, some comments on Indonesian culture and silat martial arts with some behind the scenes footage and interviews with cast and crew. Interviewees were Gareth Evans (writer / director), Ario Sagantoro (producer) plus cast Iko Uwais, Christine Hakim, Alex Abbad, Donny Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian, Yusuf Aulia and Sisca Jessica.
A comprehensive and interesting look at diverse aspects of the making of the film. Included is rehearsal footage, storyboards, behind the scenes and interviews at various times with Gareth Evans (writer / director), Ario Sagantoro (producer), Edwel Datuk Rajo Gampo Alam (fight choreographer), Didin Syamsudin (special effects make up), Moty (art director) plus cast Iko Uwais, Christine Hakim, Donny Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian, Mads Koudal, Laurent Buson and Sisca Jessica. The various sections are:
A couple of sequences. The longer develops the character of Adit, the other is an extended cut of the bad guys carrying Astri to a lift. There is no commentary or explanation of why they were deleted. And indeed there are other scenes not in the film, such as the recruiting centre sequence shown in the Production Blog section. Presumably this was in the longer Indonesian cut of the film.
Comparison of the rehearsal footage and the finished film of a number of fight sequences.
All 13 takes of the bamboo pole stunt – they used take 7!
A funny group of mistakes, including various unintended slips and the action director getting into a scene.
Trailers for other films from Madman: Gantz 2: Perfect Answer, Reign of Assassins, Grandmaster Ip Man and A Million.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region A US release seems similar to ours but includes an English language dub for those who just cannot handle subtitles. I don’t think that is a reason to go past our excellent local release. The IMDb notes that the Indonesian director’s cut is 134 minutes long, thus adding about 20 minutes, but I cannot find a record of a release of this version anywhere.
With a charismatic star, dynamic fight sequences, good acting, great locations and a wonderful score, Merantau is new Asian cinema in the raw which now gets a Blu-ray release. If you liked Ong Bak or the classic martial arts films of Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Yuan Biao, you will love Merantau.
What if you have the DVD already? The audio is an improvement on an already good track. The video has greater detail, but the greater resolution also brings some issues with boosted colours. There is a diverse selection of genuine extras, but only a few are new. On balance, I think this is a good enough film to warrant an upgrade.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|