Directed by Frans Totok Ars
Expectations: Low, but hopeful.
On the general scale:
On the B-movie scale:
While I was working my way through the Superman films, I was inadvertently exposed to this largely unknown, low-budget Indonesian film called Rama Superman Indonesia. It all happened when I visited this post on Ruth’s blog Flixchatter, where she relates her love of the Man of Steel and shares that her father produced and wrote a superhero film in the ’70s… Rama Superman Indonesia. The whole thing is on YouTube, so since I just did all those Superman movies, I figured now was a better time than later and dove head first into my first low-budget offering from Indonesia.
I did so without the aid of subtitles, but thankfully, subtitles were mostly unnecessary. Rama Superman Indonesia features a simple story easily told through its visuals. Our film begins with Andi — who reminded me a lot of Sammo Hung — selling newspapers on the street. He is established as a kind soul, helping hungry children and defending bullied kids by punching their attackers into the river. His random acts of kindness pay off later that day when he finds a dying old man laying beside a bush. Andi buys him some food and drink, assisting the old man the best he can. The old man rewards the boy with a golden butterfly pendant and then disappears into thin air.
What I always find interesting about these low-budget, foreign superhero films is where they go beyond the “normal” realm of Western film. You’d never catch a random vagrant taunting an elephant statue with a machete in a traditional Superman film, nor would he then cartwheel off-screen and try to steal Lia’s car. But in Rama Superman Indonesia this does happen, and it’s for moments like these that I wait for. This one features quite a few good ones too, which more than make up for any boredom that sets in during the talking sequences that I couldn’t understand. Little things like Lia’s dad’s friend looking strikingly similar to Jonathan Winters also help make the film’s swift 69 minutes fly by.
Which reminds me: the music is this movie is pretty bumpin’. As long as you like raw ’70s funk with a good amount of thick organ grooves, that is. According to the credits the music was done by a group called The Disc, but good luck finding any discs or info about them. One of my side interests is ’70s funk from around the world, so I was pleasantly surprised to get a smooth organ slow jam to accompany a butterfly hunt in the park, and an especially thick groove during one of the many kidnap/attack sequences. I made an mp3 of this song in particular, both for my own purposes and for the review. Bump it below.
Being an Indonesian film, there’s also a martial arts component to the film. Virtually every encounter between good and evil is settled with punches and kicks. None of the movements or choreography is very good, but it is enjoyable in a low-budget way. My favorite of the fights was when a group of three henchmen roll up in a station wagon and Rama picks up the car. He throws it about five or six feet away and then readies his karate fists (or would they be silat fists?) to thwart these evildoers. Again, none of the fighting is especially good, but I never expected it to be.
Watching these low-budget superhero films is always a crap shoot, but I’m happy to report that Rama Superman Indonesia was a lot of fun. It features a good amount of light heroics and imagination, and its slim runtime and easy-to-understand story make it a brisk watch. It’s available in its entirety on YouTube and that’s probably the only way Westerners will ever be able to see it, so check it out!
Start your Rama party here!