Guardian (2014)

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guardian poster

Director: Helfi Kardit

Starring: Dominique Diyose, Sarah Carter, Tio Pakusadewo, Belinda Camesi

91 Minutes

After the death of her father, Marsya (Belinda Camesi) learns martial arts from her mother Sarah (Dominique Agisca Diyose) despite resenting her for it. With a typically strained relationship between mother and teenage girl, things become much more serious when they find themselves on the run following an attempted killing which may have ties to the death of their husband and father. Pursued by a foreigner (Sarah Carter) and her group of international henchmen as well as a mysterious group of black-suited thugs with an uncanny ability to discover their whereabouts, the two must put their skills to use and remain one step ahead of those who are after them.

An Indonesian action film that seemingly is equally inspired by Hollywood films like the Bourne films and youth oriented teen drama like Abduction and Divergent. We get a maddening amount of shaky-cam and some truly unlikable characters despite a decent bit of action. Belinda Camesi’s Marsya is among one of the most annoying characters I have seen in a film this year; she’s frustratingly willful, undeservedly entitled, and whiny beyond belief. Not a character that is easy to get behind, her mother however, played by the strikingly beautiful Dominique Agisca Diyose fares much better despite keeping secrets a little too close only to reveal them when the film deems it appropriate to inject some fabricated emotion into the story. It is never organic and never subtle, but rather so obvious that it takes you out of the film in an instant. Canadian actress Sarah Carter, has limited screen time but makes the best of it, her gunplay is stylized but believable and her character is mysterious despite all the visual cues left by the filmmakers. Nino Fernandez and Tio Pakusodewo round out the male side of the picture with Pakusodewo hamming it up and showcasing a bit of his singing skills in a performance reminiscent of Simon Yam. Among the best elements of the picture, he was a joy in every frame of the film.

The action itself takes a bit to get into but settles cleanly by the final act. Consisting primarily of gunplay with the occasional bit of hand to hand, the film firmly goes into overdrive for the bloody and action filled finale. Dozens of dead henchmen, hard falls, and some interesting choreography occurs though certain actresses fare better than others. The weakest part of the film, Camesi again fails to deliver with her action either and her Tae Bo fighting stance is lamentable and clearly forced.

Some spotty CG and poor physics in the car chases are forgivable considering the state of Indonesian cinema right now, but nitpickers will no doubt pull apart these elements. What should be addressed though is the generic story, lack of urgency, and an abysmal showing by the lead Belinda Camesi. While the rest of the cast does an admirable job of doing the heavy lifting, this is a simple action film with low stakes and a solidly action filled finale that delivers but hopefully not too late for audiences.

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Long time film lover and occasional writer. I watch anything and everything though I have massive love for the works of Shunji Iwai, Jackie Chan, Johnnie To, and Kinji Fukasaku. POP! POP!

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