Hmmm… Rambu… Why does that name sound so familiar? Could it be because it sounds eerily similar to that Sylvester Stallone character? What’s his name? Rambo you say? Yeah, if you saw the box for this movie sitting in your video store, you’d think it probably had something to do with Rambo, right? I’m pretty sure the makers of this movie were banking on that. They even tried to make the characters somewhat similar. This guy Rambu (played by New Zealander Peter O’Brian) holds an eery resemblance to Sylvester Stallone, except he’s lanky, and a little less muscular. One of the characters actually calls him Rambo, and he dons a red headband to try to capture the look. Unfortunately, all the toughness that headband provides is offset by the wet, saggy speedo he’s sporting in the same shot.
The name Peter O’Brian doesn’t really sound like the name of an Indonesian action film star does it? Well guess what, IT IS! In Rambu (aka The Intruder, or Pembalasan Rambu), O’Brian plays the title character, a unemployed hard ass who doesn’t let anybody give the local villagers any shit. When a local gangster rapes and kills his wife, he goes on singularly focused journey to put the man responsible away for good. That man is the totally originally named John White (played by Craig Gavin), a local crime boss and heroin kingpin fronting as a philanthropist. Rambu teams up with Mr. Andre, another local businessman who wants John Smith to spend his remaining time behind bars. With Rambu supplying the brawn, and Mr. Andre supplying the brains, this combination should have no problem pinning down John White, and taking his crime syndicate down for good!
One of the first things you’ll probably notice when watching this film is the sound. Something’s just not right about it. It doesn’t take long for you to figure out that everyone in the entire film has been overdubbed. I’m not just talking about the Indonesian actors who probably have thick accents that might be hard to understand. When I say everyone, I mean EVERYONE, including the American star, O’Brian. Maybe they did it to give the film a uniform sound, but they ended up going way overboard, because even the music and ambient sounds in the film sound like they were recorded in one sitting at a studio. It gives the whole soundtrack a really surreal quality that I haven’t seen too often. Let’s forget about the sound though, and get to what this movie is really about… ACTION!
Rambu is basically a catalog of action scenes that are loosely held together with a threadbare story. The action features O’Brian showing off his moves, which resemble an orangutan raising both of it’s lanky arms and thrashing them wildly against his foes. While he’s not the best fighter, Rambu has one thing working for him and that’s his speed. Every fight looks like it’s been either sped up, or O’Brian was on a constant cocktail of cocaine and crystal meth throughout each scene. Rambu also features two of the funniest fights I’ve seen in a while. The first one is actually the opening sequence, where he goes to town on some local gangsters car, and then finishes them off by bouncing a red rubber ball off of their heads. The other is a 50’s style rumble featuring a gang on dirt bikes versus a group in 3 wheeled cars bashing each others heads in.
Unfortunately, Rambu suffers from the cliche of “too much of a good thing”. The fights are great and all, but it never really gives you a break to let you process them. It’s too busy moving onto the next fight, or the next predictable twist. It’s one of those movies that’s only an hour and a half long, but because the pacing is off, it feels like it’s twice as long. This would be the perfect movie to get drunk with your friends and watch, but you’d each down a six pack trying to keep up with the action, and end up passing out before you see the entire anti-climactic ending. Instead, you’d be better off watching one of Peter O’Brian’s other movies, The Stabilizer, which we’ll be reviewing in the upcoming weeks.