Vengeance is mine, everyone else pays cash2021.
Directed by Edwin.
With Marthino Lio, Ladya Cheryl, Reza Rahadian and Ratu Felisha.
A man suffering from impotence meets the love of his life, but will his repressed childhood trauma allow him to be the man he wants to be?
One of the catchiest titles for a movie you’ll see for a while, Vengeance is mine, everyone else pays cash is an Indonesian film as difficult to pin down as its main character is to beat in a fight. Apparently it’s an action movie that tries to dispel the myths and stereotypes about action movies and offer some insight into toxic masculinity, which it does in a bit of a long way, because it’s a film with a lot of messages but not always very clear.
The main character is Ajo Kawir (Marthino Lio), an ordinary (rather) guy who likes to fight and takes jobs as a sort of enforcer. He also has a sexual performance issue, which is part of why he is the way he is, as if his need to fight is his way of making up for his perceived lack of masculinity in other departments.
While working on a job that involves cutting off the ear of a local crime lord, Ajo meets Iteung (Ladya Cheryl), who works as a bodyguard for said target, although she do so with some reserve as she doesn’t like him, but he pays her well for her skills. Iteung is a highly skilled martial artist and she and Ajo get into a fight that sees them not only earn each other’s respect, but they also fall in love.
All of this within the first 20 minutes of the film and provides you with your action movie fix as Ajo and Iteung perform an impressively choreographed fight scene, the kind of thing that wouldn’t have felt out of place in a movie. ninja from the 80s (but without shuriken throwing and swordplay). After that, we get more plot as the film moves into romantic drama territory, including an unexpected pregnancy – which is especially unexpected for Ajo – and tested relationships, with little bits of comedy and thriller. peppery detective before arriving at the sudden and vague ending, and a sudden ending after nearly two hours of tonal shifts and genre crossovers is more than a little shocking.
However, despite the confusing delivery of what he is trying to say, Vengeance is mine, everyone else pays cash is a pretty entertaining ride if you’re willing to accept the fact that it’s both tonal and narrative throughout. The most engaging part is the second act where the romance blossoms between Ajo and Iteung, as their relationship feels genuine and the two actors have a chemistry that sells the idea that these two misfit characters would find each other again.
Things only get confusing once the strain in their marriage is apparent and Iteung becomes pregnant, the circumstances why this brings in more characters, flashbacks and writing that just seems weird, bordering on surreal. , and that arty element slows the momentum that the film’s first hour builds up. Yes, it adds a bit of depth and flair here and there, but after the action and comedy, it feels more like a descent than it really should.
Based on a novel written by Eka Kurniawan, who co-wrote the screenplay with director Edwin, Vengeance is mine, everyone else pays cash is a very weird movie, that never quite settles into one thing, and while that might be a good thing because it’s never predictable, there’s too much going on and too many leaps and bounds genre to make it fully function as fully as the filmmakers intended.
It packs a lot into its long lifespan, and it’s easy to see where changes could be made as there are a few too many characters that appear for a scene or two and then disappear, but it feels like that editing and streamlining is anathema to writer and director, which is to be admired but for anyone not familiar with the world of weird Asian cinema then Vengeance is mine, everyone else pays cash is a quirk that will remain just that.
Scintillating Myth Rating – Movie: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★