Wiro Sableng smartly plays out on one of the source material’s finest advantage—exotic world building and exquisite characters—to craft a real blockbuster treat, despite all the flaws.
Review Wiro Sableng 212 Warrior: Wiro Sableng (trans. Crazy Wiro), a character created by Bastian Tito, is one of the most renowned & legendary martial art warriors in Indonesian comic scene—along with Panji Tengkorak (Skull Panji) and Si Buta dari Goa Hantu (Blind Warrior from Ghost Cave). From comic book, Wiro Sableng had been adapted into a several movies and, most notably, long-running television series that had gained cult-following and launched a one-hit wonder status to the star, Ken Ken. In 2018, a latest incarnation of the famous character is brought into existence by Angga D. Sasongko (Filosofi Kopi series, Bukaan 8), backed by Lifelike Pictures and Hollywood mogul, Twentieth Century Fox.
Wiro Sableng: Pendekar Kapak Maut Naga Geni 212 feels special in the development. Penned by Tumpal Tampubolon and Sheila Timothy with senior Indonesian author (and martial-art writer), Seno Gumira Ajidarma, the plot is straight-forward poetic justice action mixed with political turmoil in the background. Partially inspired by classic wuxia stories, the narrative also elaborates a Shakespearian dash and clash that look like Coriolanus and the lots. More enticingly, the fact that Vino G. Bastian, an interesting Indonesian actor who plays the titular role, is Bastian Tito’s son makes a real point as if all stars are aligned for this adaptation.
Kapak Maut Naga Geni 212 a.k.a. The Deadly Fire Dragon Axe 212.
The result isn’t disappointing. Wiro Sableng smartly plays out on one of the source material’s finest advantage—exotic world building and exquisite characters—to craft a real blockbuster treat, despite all the flaws. Production design, costume design and character design, along with the casting, are superb. In many senses, Wiro Sableng has similar feels as live-action of Rurouni Kenshin especially the Kyoto Arc. Characters, as whimsical as possible, are making quite an entrance to the screen not merely as some background decoration. All of the characters have speaking role, albeit minor, and mostly fighting roles, which can always force audiences to the edge of the seat.
Vino G. Bastian has proven his worth—making it as if his father had foreseen the future and then written the role for him. Wiro Sableng, by design, is a happy-go-lucky character full of silly act and puns; and Vino dissolves into the character fluidly. Although, his fighting sequences look stiff (thanks to the film’s stiff editing of the fighting sequences), Vino is utterly agile in portraying the energetic Wiro. The overwhelming energy he brings to every scene is enough to make audiences look away from the film’s most visible flaws—CGI and bothersome deus ex machina.
Speaking of CGI, Wiro Sableng utilizes many renditions of it in creating a close-yet-distant universe of the story. While micro-CGI effects are mostly impressive (including the string removal and Iron Fist-like FX), the macro ones seem obsolete. The creative decision to use those macro-CGI effects is vague. They can change the scene a little and adorn it with a more practical effects, and the result will still be the same.
Vino G. Bastian as Wiro Sableng flies against Yayan Ruhian. Dwi Sasono on the ground.
As Wiro Sableng teases a further exploration to the extended universe, it’s apparent that the franchise is heading to a better direction. Once the flaws are acknowledged, following up on a breakthrough as this will promise a more enticing continuation.
Pendekar Kapak Maut Naga Geni 212
Action, Adventure, Comedy Directed by: Angga D. Sasongko Written by: Tumpal Tampubolon, Sheila Timothy, Seno Gumira Ajidarma based on characters by Bastian Tito Starred by: Vino G. Bastian, Yayan Ruhian, Sherina Munaf, Fariz Alfarizi, Andy /rif, Dwi Sasono, Lukman Sardi Runtime: 123 mins