Preman is an average gangster movie elevated by diversity

The Indonesian gangster film Preman addresses issues of disability and sexuality in a way that makes its otherwise cliche story that much more interesting.

Whenever there are discussions about diversity in the media, there are always detractors who argue that even having these discussions does not matter. Diversity is not badThese people will say, but that it is “useless” and that you should “focus on the story. Thugs, the first feature film by Indonesian director Randolph Zaini, is an interesting case study and counterargument to this line of thinking. Without its diversity, it would be a completely generic and forgettable gangster movie. However, by adding disability and sexuality themes to this formula, this potentially tired story is more interesting than it would have been otherwise.

Disability issues are more obvious from the beginning of the movie. The main character Sandi is a deaf gangster and single father who tries to keep his son safe from his bosses. Dealing with both internalized and externalized ability gives Sandi a clear personal conflict beyond the standard characterization of “good boy doing bad things.” The movie’s most exciting fight sequence sees Sandi using her deafness as an asset, taking on some three dozen enemy gangsters and killing at least a quarter of them by overwhelming them with sound.

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Preman Dream Fight Scene

Less obvious up front, but even more interesting are the strange twists of the story. At first, this takes the form of playing on the expectations of machismo: a giant tattooed bully turns out to be a musical theater buff, a hairdresser beheads a homophobe. The larger and more meaningful queer plot development constitutes a spoiler, but suffice it to say, it makes the last 20 minutes of the movie more emotional than the entire movie up to that point. This could have been a much more interesting movie if they led with this reveal early on.

The description of the Seattle International Film Festival of Thugs compares him to gareth evans The raid movies, but other than being Indonesian crime movies with Pencak silat martial arts scenes, they don’t really have much in common. The raid it’s all action all the time, while Thugs it’s more of a drama with respite between fights. The father-son story feels more like Road to Perdition anything else. There are also other elements derived from the film, including another imitation of good friends‘long shot of the nightclub and some very Will Graham-style detective work.

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Thugs it’s a solidly made movie, even if it’s clear it was made on a limited budget. Some of the visuals in the action scenes and quieter, more naturalistic moments are striking, though sometimes the color correction is over the top and the narratively solid but downright silly-looking fursuit dream sequences feel like a case of ambition that exceeds the means. Thugs It is a mixed bag, but it is remarkable how much its diversity enhances it.

Thugs it is transmission at the Seattle International Film Festival through April 18. Directed by Randolph Zaini, the film stars Khiva Iskak, Muzakki Ramdhan, Kiki Narendra, Salvita Decorte, Revaldo, Putri Ayudya, Gilbert Pattiruhu and Egi Fedly.

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