One of Indonesia’s biggest 2018 cinematic events, 212 Warrior is one of the most ambitious productions made in the archipelago in recent years. Above all, it marks the return to the screen of one of the most beloved heroic icons of the Indonesian imagination: Wiro Sableng, a character created in the sixties by Bastian Tito in a series of novels which are among the most prolific and long-lived in Indonesian publishing history, with 185 volumes published between 1967 and 2006. Predictably, the figure of this warrior armed with an axe has already made the jump from page to screen in a series of films in the late eighties, as well as in one of the most celebrated sinetron (television series) ever, broadcast for almost a decade from 1994 until 2002, but the production of this new version of his adventures marks the first collaboration between the American major 20th Century Fox and a company from South East Asia: Sheila Timothy and Luki Wanandi’s Lifelike Pictures, known for innovative productions like Joko Anwar’s dazzling The Forbidden Door, which was screened at FEFF 2009. Another exciting aspect is the choice of the protagonist: the actor lending his face and body to Wiro Sableng will be Vino G. Bastian, an Indonesian movie star FEFF audiences will remember for Radit & Jani (2008) and The Last Wolf (2009), his films for director Upi. He is the son of the same Bastian Tito who created the character.
Set in the pre-colonial 16th century island of Java, Wiro Sableng’s adventures begin with the barbaric slaying of his parents by a gang of bandits who invade his village. Little Wiro Sableng, who is only four years old, is saved by an eccentric old warrior woman, Sinto Gendeng. She brings him up and introduce him to the practices and secrets of silat, the traditional Indonesian martial art. This apprenticeship will be the basis of his search for justice, when, after 17 years of training, Wiro Sableng is given axe 212, making him 212 Warrior. He sets off to battle Mahesa Birawa, a disciple of Sinto Gendeng who betrayed her wise precepts and used her teachings for evil: he was responsible for the massacre that deprived Wiro Sableng of his parents. The story of the Warrior 212 is therefore an adventurous journey of initiation, and along the way, he meets other warriors who will join him in his fight against evil Mahesa Birawa.
Already the youngest director to win the Citra Award (the Indonesian Oscar) for Best Film with Cahaya dari Timur: Beta Maluku (2013), Angga Dwimas Sasongko directs this blend of fantasy and martial arts with a skillful balance of dramatic development and powerfully choreographed action scenes. He expertly uses the exotic settings, historically accurate costumes and set designs and the special effects to create a mythological world that is both classic and contemporary, inspired equally by international fantasy and the Indonesian action movies of the past and present. A duality that is also thanks to the precious contributions of action director Chan Man Ching, who has worked with the great Jackie Chan, and fight scene choreographer Yayan Ruhian, who worked on Merantau (2009), The Raid (2011) and The Raid 2 (2014). An incendiary combination whose fuse Vino G. Bastian lights with heartfelt conviction and which we hope will make FEFF audiences explode with enthusiasm too.