What a day for Indonesian cinephiles, as action/black comedy film Seperti Dendam, Rindu Harus Dibayar Tuntas (Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash) is finally having its nationwide cinematic release today.
Adapted from the best-selling novel by Eka Kurniawan of the same name, the anticipation has been high for the movie due to its international recognition as well as its star-studded cast.
Vengeance Is Mine is directed by Edwin, who also wrote the screenplay together with Eka. Back in August, the film premiered internationally at the 74th Locarno Film Festival and went on to win Best Film — becoming the first ever Indonesian film to take the top prize of Golden Leopard. In addition, Vengeance Is Mine was also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival in the Contemporary World Cinema section last September.
During the Locarno Film Festival 2021 awarding night, the festival’s jury president Eliza Hittman said that the film “playfully and artfully pays homage to pulp revenge drama from the ‘80s and ‘90s,” and that the jury were touched by “the sensitive and subversive exploration of masculinity and femininity in a violent and macho world.”
Playing out over the aforementioned two decades, Vengeance Is Mine tells the story of Ajo Kawir (Marthino Lio), a fighter who fears nothing, not even death. Ajo Kawir’s raging urge to fight is driven by his impotence, which he keeps a secret. In the story, he is accompanied by his childhood best friend, Tokek (played by singer-songwriter Sal Priadi in his feature film debut).
One day, he crosses paths with a tough female fighter named Iteung (Edwin’s frequent collaborator Ladya Cheryl), who then beats him black and blue. Despite their violent encounter, love blossoms between the two fighters. Will Ajo get to live a happy life with Iteung, and eventually lead him to his own peace of mind?
Vengeance Is Mine also features other top-billing Indonesian actors including Reza Rahadian, Lukman Sardi, Christine Hakim, Cecep Arif Rahman, and Ratu Felisha.
Watch the trailer for Vengeance Is Mine below — which is more hilarious if you speak Indonesian — below, and remember, this film is strictly for 18+ audience only:
Edwin’s filmmaking career can be traced back to 2003 through a short film titled A Very Slow Breakfast, though the director first rose to prominence through Kara, Anak Sebatang Pohon in 2005, which earned him the Best Short Film award at Indonesian Film Festival (FFI) that same year. His feature film debut came in 2008 with Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly, while his latest films prior to Vengeance Is Mine, Posesif (2017) and Aruna and Her Palate (2018), earned him consecutive Best Director nominations at FFI, which he won for the former.
Edwin was the first Indonesian filmmaker to be in contention for Berlin International Film Festival’s prestigious Golden Bear trophy back in 2012, as his sophomore feature Postcards from the Zoo was selected to compete in the main section of the festival. It’s worth noting that Ladya Cheryl starred in Edwin’s earlier works including shorts Kara, Trip to The Wound and Hulahoop Soundings (2008), as well as Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly and Postcards from The Zoo.