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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash - Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash(Blu Ray) [Arrow Video - 2022]

Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash is a wonderfully rough ‘n’ ready film which is difficult to fully tie down into just one genre, as it brings together elements of quirky romantic drama, martial arts, revenge-focused action, and adult comedy. The 2021 film is certainly one of the more unpredictable genre films I’ve seen in some time- sure its darting tone sometimes unbalances itself, there are a few pacing issues, and you have to really expect the unexpected- but it’s most certainly an experience. Here from Uk’s Arrow Video is a Blu-Ray release of this one-off picture- feature as we’ve come to expect from the label a great selection of extras.

Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash (Seperti dendam, rindu harus dibayar tuntas) is helmed by an Indonesian director simply known as Edwin, and it's an Indonesian Singapore, and German production. Born in 1978 in Surabaya- the capital city of the Indonesian province of East Java- Edwin has helmed seven feature-length films, as well as a good few shorts too. His feature lengths taking in the likes of a community-at-unease drama Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly (2008), documentary-come-surreal fantasy Postcards From The Zoo (2012), and epidemiologist-focused romantic drama Aruna & Her Plate (2018).

The film is set in the late 80’s/ early 90’s Indonesia, in and around a rural town. It opens with our male lead Ajo (Marthino Lio) doing a motorbike dual, where he & another rider pass each other to snatch up a beer bottle from a straight strip of road. Ajo, who is attired in a grubby and ragged shell suit top wins the dual- but he has a rather big issue, which is first mocked at by the town hooker & then puts his romantic future at fate- he literally can’t get it up. As the film unfolds, we find out he’s also a pretty good martial fighter too- with his first impressive, thorough-a-working- dusty-mine fight, with our other lead Iteung (Ladya Cheryl) takes place. Iteung is a slight/ skinny, but very talented female fighter.

As the film unfolds Ajo is asked by a moustached middle-aged town gangster to take someone out. He goes on several trips in his lorry with his missing two teeth & premature ejaculation buddy, but most important to the film’s flow/ focus- he develops an awkward, at times rather charming romance with Iteung. We also find out what first caused his issues, which ties into the revenge elements of the film later on. 

Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash has a decidedly loose and drifting structure. Yes, we do get some impressive fights and other action, but when it appears it’s largely jarring and fleeting. The main focus here is giving snapshots of the developing, then declining, before returning romance between Ajo & Iteung. With the whole thing been giving subtle touches of 80’s camp/ quirkiness, as well as traces of traditional Indonesian life/ ceremonies. 
 
Both lead actors feel very believable & real in their portrayal of their on ‘n’ off romance, with a real feeling of charming at times crude honest to their story and performance. Their martial art craft is very rapid, and often body twisting. I’m not sure it’s a film that’s going to appeal to either a straight romantic drama fan, though equally it won’t appeal to those who just enjoy martial art film. I guess you’ve got to be like myself an open and very accepting fan of genre film, to fully get and appreciate what we have here.

On the slightly less positive side, the just shy of the two-hour film does have a few pacing issues here and there- and when it first kicks off it does take you a little time to figure out quite what is going on- but this of course makes rewatches worthy. All in all, a most distinctive, largely worthy if slightly rough ‘n’ ready film.

 

Moving onto this Blu-Ray, and boy we get a lot of extras. First, we get a new Q+A with the director (23.12), a thirteen-part behind-the-scenes doc which runs a total of one hour and eleven minutes. The World Behind Vengeance (1 hour 20 mins), Video diaries from each day of shooting (28.29), readings from the original source novel, featuring multiple cast and crew members( 57.38), and eight minutes of deleted scenes. Trailer & image gallery. 
 

Once again, it’s marvellous to see Arrow Video track down and release yet another decidedly original genre film with this release. If you enjoy the idea of where romantic drama, martial arts, revenge-focused action, and adult comedy meet, and battle it out then Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash will be your thing.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Roger Batty
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