Saturday, March 07, 2009

Genius Is Still Named Arizal

I once proclaimed on this blog that Indonesian filmmaker Arizal was a genius. At that time, my only evidence were his films LETHAL HUNTER and THE STABILIZER. Now that I have doubled the amount of Arizal films I have seen, I believe in his genius more than ever.

Logic, continuity, characterization, depth—who gives a damn? This is Arizal we're talking about here. If no stuntman ever died making one of his movies, it wasn't for a lack of trying. Things blow up, cars smash into things, motorcycles fly through the air. Yeah, Arizal is The Man, and 1986's FINAL SCORE may be the pinnacle of his genius.
Robert Mitchum's blond actor son Chris Mitchum, who was also the LETHAL HUNTER, stars in FINAL SCORE as Vietnam vet Richard Brown (Mitchum). Boy, is he livid after he returns home to his 8-year-old son's birthday party to discover his boy and his wife have been brutally murdered. The culprit is Hawk (Mike Abbott), who has a long roster of hoods standing between Brown and his own death. After an hour of running dudes over with a car, cutting them in half with a machine gun, blasting them with grenades, snapping their necks, and just generally kicking ass, Brown finally faces his mortal enemy, who wants to "squeeze the living shit out of (Brown's) rotten life."

If that isn't enough carnage for you, while dressing for battle, Brown has flashbacks to 'Nam, where many bamboo huts explode and Brown rescues a POW from an unlocked cage. At least Brown doesn't let being grief-stricken enough to kill the people who raped and murdered his wife stop him from sexing up the hot ninja (Ida Iasha) who helps him get Hawk. Her job is primarily to get evidence against Hawk to take to the police, but after killing a hundred guys in pursuit of it, I'm not sure evidence means much.

I was not really sure why Hawk was so pissed at Brown, which is what motivated the whole story, but anyone familiar with Arizal's unique brand of insane action filmmaking will agree that FINAL SCORE hits the spot. No film this crazy could get made today in Asia or anywhere else, but I'm not certain anyone would want to.

The earliest Arizal picture I've seen is SPECIAL SILENCERS from 1979. For a guy with great power, Gundar (Dicky Zulkamaen) is surely lacking in ambition. He wants to be mayor of his little Indonesian village, so he acquires some magic red pills—called "special silencers"—by killing his monk grandfather and stealing them. When ingested, the pills cause vines and tree branches (!) to grow inside the person and burst through his or her skin, causing what I assume to be a painful death. Gundar uses the special silencers to kill the mayor and the mayor's cop brother, leaving the mayor's daughter Julia (Eva Arnaz) and a dashing young motorcyclist named Hundar (busy Indonesian leading man Barry Prima) as his main obstacles to the throne. You'd think he'd at least want to be governor.

Gundar himself is a difficult match, since meditation has given him impenetrable skin, but he luckily has a full roster of hired goons to send after Hundar, whose kung fu skills enable him to rip through them like flypaper. He tortures Julia by making her smell some stinky feet, then siccing rats, which he calls "black commandos" on her, which couldn't have been fun for the actress.

A weird combination of fantasy and kung fu, SPECIAL SILENCERS is more lucid than later Arizal actioners like THE STABILIZER and LETHAL HUNTER. It actually has a real story and an interest in its characters. Whether that makes SPECIAL SILENCERS any better than those other pictures, I don't know. Some of the humor is intentional. Screenwriter Deddy Armand also penned many other wonderful crappy Indonesian action movies, including THE STABILIZER, FINAL SCORE, and ANGEL OF FURY with Cynthia Rothrock.


Anonymous said...

Haha. Do you know Christopher Mitchum has been in at least 4 movies with "Lethal" in the title?

If I was an actor, that is the kind of record I'd want.

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