Based on old Indonesian folklore during the times of suppression by the Dutch, BUFFALO BOYS is a an east meets west sort of film with all of the badassery of martial arts and gun slinging. Swords and bullets and fists, oh my! BUFFALO BOYS is the directorial debut from Mike Wiluan, a producer the cultural phenomenon CRAZY RICH ASIANS.
In 19th century Java, following the murder of Sultan Hamza by Dutch Captain Van Trach and his men, the sultan’s brother Arana was forced to flee the country with the sultan’s infant sons.
The movie begins with a brawl happening on a train in California whilst an instrumental that sounds suspiciously like Katy Perry’s Dark Horse plays, drumming up the drama. Jamar is participating in that brawl while his brother Suwo takes bets. After some sore losers break out the guns and a brush with death, our protagonists realize it is time to go back home and avenge their father’s/brother’s death. The brothers had been raised in the way of the cowboy life in the west, and they bring that with them back to their homeland.
There’s a solid backstory and motivation set in place, and it burns strong all the way through to the end. It’s a wild ride and a lot of fun! The brothers Jamar and Suwo are accompanied by their uncle Arana, whose actor is not great...I thought that perhaps he gets better throughout the movie, but then I realized that they just gave him less and less lines as the movie progressed.
At times, this movie gets rather brutal. There’s a recurring character that attacked the brothers, and wound up with a knife in his eye that clearly went all the way into his brain. Astonishingly he survives, and the next time you see him he his clearly affected with brain damage but somehow still functional. We see mutilation, decapitation, rape, flagellation, stabbings, throats slit and so much more.
One of the things that really stuck out to me in this movie: I have never seen such a brilliant killing face in a movie before. There is a scene where one of the brothers is blind with rage over the death of a loved one. His eyes were wide and psychotic, I would have believed he was in true bloodlust in that moment as he strangled the person who caused the death.
BUFFALO BOYS wasn’t the best movie, but there were a lot of great elements to it that perhaps could have been executed better. Overall the action and backstory is great, but perhaps was missing something? I’m not sure just what. You certainly won’t regret seeing this movie, and will have fun along the way, but it has only been a few days since I saw it and I’m already forgetting it. It was great action, but nothing we haven’t really seen before.
In theaters now.
~Eva Snail aka Big Eyes