Indonesia was colonized by the Dutch Empire for 3,5 centuries before Indonesia gained its Independence Day on 17th of August 1945. During the colonialization many urban legends appeared to cover the pain of the people or just to hope that freedom would came soon.
The era of colonialization is a great narration for a lot of movies, including Indonesian movies. There, some fantasies and urban legend can be created just to satisfy our imagination about the what-if situation of the past. That’s how Buffalo Boys recreates the era of colonialization in Indonesia.
Buffalo Boys is the what-if situation of a sub-plot narration under the grand narrative of Indonesia during colonialization. Even though it is a what-if situation but Buffalo Boys offers a very interesting premise, it is almost considered as a wild idea to have two boys who are Javanese royal descents come back to the country from the USA when they grow up. It is mad but it is a very interesting and exciting idea.
But unfortunately, the movie has some serious flaws in almost all of the elements.
The story began with Jamar (Ario Bayu) fought an American man in the train with oriental mix-and-match beat as the BGM. Suwo (Yoshi Sudarso), Jamar’s younger brother, acted as the referee for the match. Henceforth Jamar, Suwo, and their uncle Arana (Tio Pakusadewo) came back to Indonesia to take revenge to Van Trach (Reinout Bussemaker).
During the journey to find Van Trach, they met Kiona (Pevita Pearce) and Sri (Mikha Tambayong) who lived under the cruel rule of Van Trach, there in a village they had a chance to revenge Van Trach.
The movie has a stunning production value with its location setting, costume, and the music score that make the movie an ambitious blockbuster which has an excellent blend of Indonesian and Western. And here things gone seriously wrong.
Despite the time background, the movie doesn’t feel like an Indonesian movie with colonialization era background but the movie feels like completely western movie, to be exact it’s very American and there is almost no the taste of Dutch. It’s more into a wild west’s civil war movie instead of colonialization.
It’s not the costume of the titular protagonists that is wrong but other things beside that such as architecture, details, music score, CG, and even the accent. There is a sign board written ‘White Only’ at café, seriously? They are Dutch, why use English words?
All the bad guys also do not have Dutch accent and the more ridiculous thing is Kiona talks about equality in decision making. Who talk about that during colonialism? And then the CG, the CG is bad especially those which appear in the early scene such as port background and dessert background during the train scene in the USA.
A lot of characters also are underused just like the Van Trach who is overshadowed by his henchmen, and then Kiona who supposed to be a femme fatale with great archery skill, and then Sri who did nothing instead only captured by the bad guys.
The storyline also feels like a storyline of an RPG game. The heroes are on journey and then find a quest to save a girl who soon to be raped, they saved her and they got their MP and HP restored and some other inventories. There they met an elven-like girl whose archery skill is great. Henceforth, the heroes went into the city where they found a clue about the last boss. They chased the last boss but en route the elder character passed away.
But thanks to the action choreography and epic final showdown, the tired and exhausting storyline is paid off. The incredible and well-choreographed action gives the movie a professional look. The epic final showdown is also very well-crafted that makes the movie is a top-notch of action genre.
Buffalo Boys is a movie that should exist and we should have. Well, because there are not many films like this, trial-and-error is a must and Buffalo Boys is a good process to the wild side of creativity that breaking traditional boundaries of classic Indonesian war movies or Indonesian movies as a whole. Despite its serious flaws, Buffalo Boys is a great leap that gives a great experience.
Our Score (6/10)
Title : Buffalo Boys
Production : Infinite Frameworks Pte. Ltd., and Zhao Wei Films
Directed by : Mike Wiluan
Story by : Raymond Lee, Mike Wiluan
Casts : Ario Bayu, Yoshi Sudarso, Tio Pakusadewo, Pevita Pearce, Mikha Tambayong, Reinout Bussemaker