Review: HEADSHOT (2016)
Headshot was the final film The Mo Brothers, Kimo Stamboel (Dreadout) and Timo Tjahjanto made together. The writer and directors of Killers teamed up with Iko Uwais the star of The Raid and The Raid 2. The result, while lacking the scope of the second Raid film, was a nice mix of high action and gritty violence. It was also an omen of what Tjahjanto and Uwais would deliver with The Night Comes For Us.
Crime lord Mr. Lee (Sunny Pang, Buffalo Boys) is sprung from jail in a violent rescue. On the same day, an unconscious man (Iko Uwais, Triple Threat, Beyond Skyline) washes up on a nearby beach. Dubbed Ishmael by Ailin (Chelsea Islan, May the Devil Take You) The doctor taking care of him, he has no memory of who he is, how he ended up floating in the surf, or who is responsible for the bullet fragments in his head. News of this gets back to Lee, who orders him killed. When that proves difficult, he has Ailin kidnapped to flush him out. Now Ishmael has to figure out who he is and why he’s marked for death while rescuing Ailin.
The amnesiac hero is an old plot device, and it’s really not given much to us in the first half of Headshot. The plot moves Ishmael from fight to fight as much by circumstance as anything. It’s only towards the end, as he faces people from his past, that it really has an effect on the plot. Particularly in his fight with Rika (Julie Estelle, Kuntilanak, The Raid 2 ). He remembers their shared past as she tries to kill him. But overall, it’s more of a red herring and a plot device to allow a relationship to develop between the two leads.
But what matters in a film like Headshot is the fight scenes, and there are plenty of them. Nasty, brutal and hard-hitting with plenty of blood and broken bones. The brutality of the violence is pushed up several notches, probably because of the directors’ background in horror. Anyone who’s seen Killers or their segments in ABCs of Death or VHS 2 know they have a dark sensibility, and it shows here.
Not only in the brutality of the fights. But plot details like Lee’s kidnapping of children and dropping them in an old well. He leaves them to fight to the death over the occasional gift of food or water until only one survives. Killer instinct fully developed and ready to become a trained assassin. That’s also about as much background as we get on any of the characters. But again, that’s not what Headshot is about.
It’s about fights. There’s a nightmarish fight on a burning bus full of dead people. An epic battle in a police station that invokes memories of The Terminator. And on beaches and underground lairs, among other places. Fights with fists, guns, knives, and clubs. Headshot more than delivers on that level. As long as you can deal with the plot’s shortcomings, (and if you’re a fan of action films you probably can), then this will be a lot of fun.
Headshot is available via streaming and DVD.