“Headshot” | Movie Review

TIFF-2016-HEADSHOT-PosterGrade (B+)

“Headshot” stars; Iko Uwais, Julie Estelle, Sunny Pang and Chelsea Islan. It is an Indonesian martial-arts action movie that made the film festival rounds late last year, and finally had a limited release in the states earlier this month.

The story is about a young man with a severe head-wound who washes ashore with no memory of his past, or who he is, after waking from a coma months later. Under the care of a doctor he becomes emotionally attached to, this young man will find his past searching him out, to finish the job they left incomplete.

Now I will warn you, action films do not get much more violent that this one does, and with a great use of many practical effects it comes off unrelentingly realistic. For fans of the “Raid” films, or martial-arts themed action movies in general, there will definitely be some enjoyment in this story.

If you do not prefer so much brutal violence, then I would suggest something from the Jason Statham collection. Because over the course of this two-hour film there is massive amounts of unnerving gun-play, fighting, and just pure violence, that does not hold back.

We’ll get back to the action later but now let’s get into the story-line. It was a decent one. It had enough layers in it to fill the run-time, there are many characters and elements to it that weave an intriguing plot that manages to fill in the time between the action-sequences.


The story does take a while to develop though, and there were some pacing issues, leading to some lulls in the middle. The characters were also a little underdeveloped, and the story forces you to simply take things at face value. The hero is this type of guy, the villain it that type, she is the love interest and plot-device, I’m sure you get where I’m going with that, but despite not really being able to connect with the characters, it was still a very enjoyable movie.

The performances were all pretty good for what the roles required. There were some moments of overacting, and some of the dialogue did sound scripted in its delivery, but nothing to the point of hindering the entertainment.

I thought Iko Uwais was great in this one, more for his action that his character performance but he was enough to carry the film along despite his, and most of the character arcs, being a little on the routine side. I also really liked the performance of Sunny Pang as the villain, Lee. He was not imposing at all visually but his mannerisms, delivery, and his expressionless lack of fear, made him a solid addition.

Now let’s get back to the action, which was the main star of this movie. The sequences were not quite at the level of the “Raid” films but they were not far off. There were some awesome fight-sequences and they felt primal, grounded, and very realistic given the circumstances.


Most of the action-sequences were displaying some sort of fight for survival, and they all captured that tone perfectly. They were fast-paced, gory, and loaded with amazingly cringe worthy moments. The choreography was excellent, there were many long, bloody battles, fights, shootouts, and with the speed, and velocity of the sequences, you are pulled up on the edge of your seat.

Admittedly there were a few scenes that felt slightly over-choreographed but with a two-hour filmed loaded with action it’s not a deal breaker at all, given the amount of fantastic action it also does deliver. There was also a scene out on the beach that could have been left out, and it also felt like one of the weaker edited scenes as well. But as far as the cinematography as a whole, it was amazing in my opinion.

Two directors worked on this film and you can see two styles of directing in this movie, both of which were pretty good, with one being a little better. Overall though, the sequences were extremely well shot, using some elements you don’t really get to see in western cinema and it resulted in a great experience. “Headshot” was not a perfect film but it was a very good one and the effort on many levels if very clear and I definitely recommend checking it out.