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Ike Uwais in action

Ike Uwais in action

“HEADSHOT”  My rating: B-

118 minutes | No MPAA rating

With its macho-drenched title, “Headshot” has much to live up to.

Mostly, this Indonesian actioner delivers.

It’s not like the movie is particularly original, but writer Timo Tjahjanto and his co-director, Kimo Stamboel, have the good sense to steal from the best.

At various times this exhausting film — at least half of its two-hour running time consists of amazingly choreographed fights and shootouts — references the early cinema of John Woo, Chan-wook Park (especially the prison break in “Oldboy”), “The Bourne Identity” (an amnesiac hero who doesn’t realize where his killer fighting skills come from), the original “Terminator” (a police station massacre) and even Oliver Twist (a Fagin-like character raises stolen children to become uber-violent gangsters).

A young man (Iko Uwais), shot in the head, washes up on a beach.  He lies for days in a coma, and awakens with no memory of his earlier life.

His young doctor, Ailin (Chelsea Islan), dubs him Ishmael (she’s reading Moby Dick) and reintroduces him to life.

But Ishmael’s past comes looking for him. He’s stalked by ruthless killers who kidnap Ailin.  It all leads to an astoundingly high body count and a final showdown with the master criminal Lee (Sunny Pang).

Silly? Yep. Superficial? Definitely.

But, damn, the action is amazing. Several complicated fight scenes have been filmed in one long take in real time  (a nod, perhaps, to the hospital shootout in Woo’s “Hard Boiled”?).

It’s bloody and super violent, teetering  somewhere between absurd overkill and visual poetry.

Don’t go for the acting (although Pang’s utterly reprehensible crime lord is weirdly compelling) or the half-hearted stab at romance between Ishmael (played as blankly as the character’s whitewashed brain) and his young M.D.

Go for the action. You won’t be disappointed.

| Robert W. Butler

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