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||IMDB Rating: 6.8/10 from R votes
||Release: 26 May 2011 /
||Director: Asun Mawardi,
||Synopsis: After making a brotherly bond with a fellow orphan and reunited by tragedy they fight to save Verdy's fiancée and stop the international crime scandal together.
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Like many folks, I'll always remember Robin Shou for his role in MORTAL
KOMBAT - not only because I like the movie, but because he hasn't had
too many notable parts since then. It's surprising that he went about
fifteen years without a starring role, when I'm certain I wasn't the
only fan eager to see him cut loose again as a martial arts superstar.
Well, it's finally happened: after languishing without a wide release
for about three years, MORTAL ENEMIES is finally out in North America
and sees Shou receive both top billing and screen majority.
Disappointingly, it's not exactly the full return to form I had been
hoping for, and not a perfect movie in other aspects either.
The story: twenty years after being separated and seeing their
brotherhood shattered, Sunny (Shou) and Verdy (Imade Bhawanta) meet
again as pirate and businessman. Necessity and retained loyalty drive
them to combat a plot that puts Verdy and his fiancée in danger.
While Shou's name and experience likely helped the film, he sort of
puts himself into a vulnerable position by appearing alongside younger
and fiendishly athletic stars. His co-lead, Verdy Bhawanta, is not only
twenty years Shou's junior but also a noted capoeira practitioner, and
I think it's safe to say that he outruns Robin for the money. But even
with a lot of exceptional talent in the credits, the action content is
in trouble. There are about seven fights here, and I think only two are
particularly good. The camera consistently hugs the action, providing
too little room to appreciate the choreography, which ends up being on
the bland side too often. Slow motion is slightly overused. Shou looks
quick and strong but doesn't do too many exciting things, whereas Verdy
occasionally shines through the use of some smooth dance-fighting and
pro wrestling moves. Curiously-cast Brazilian fighter Marcio da Silva
does well enough for his role but his end fight isn't that spectacular,
whereas a seemingly indestructible enforcer played by Ryan Adriant is
A lengthy backstory ends up providing the two leads with 50% more
character than is the norm for these pictures, which is fortunate
because as soon as the movie kicks into full action mode (about 40
minutes in), the drama this one had going for it promptly dies. Sunny
and Verdy take turns being inconsistent in their resolve and feelings
towards each other, and the screenplay attempts to tell too much of the
story too fast by rapid-firing the plot twists into your lap with
little chance to digest anything. Everybody does well enough when it
comes to acting, though only when speaking a language they're
comfortable with: about 60% of the film features Indonesian dialogue,
with the rest being English, and whenever Verdy goes from the former to
the latter, it's a bit uncomfortable to listen to. The soundtrack,
however, is surprisingly atmospheric and fun.
If he manages to seize more prominent roles, Verdy Bhawanta has a
chance of being mentioned in the same breath as Iko Uwais. Robin Shou,
on the other hand, seems to have been out of steam here. I'm pretty
disappointed that he doesn't make more of an impact in MORTAL ENEMIES,
especially with the level of freedom that independent films like this
are afforded. Maybe he was trying to make his costars look good, but
for me, Shou was the main reason to see the movie and he just doesn't
make it entirely worth it. Bored martial arts fans should still feel
free to give this a watch, but don't count on it to become a new
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