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Directed by G. H. Evans
Produced by Ario Sagantoro
Written by Gareth Evans
Starring Iko Uwais
Sisca Jessica
Christine Hakim
Donny Alamsyah
Yusuf Aulia
Laurent Buson
Alex Abbad
Mads Koudal
Ratna Galih
Yayan Ruhian
Music by Fajar Yuskemal
Aria Prayogi
Cinematography Matt Flannery
Dimas Imam Subhono
Edited by G. H. Evans
PT. Merantau Films
Distributed by SinemArt
Release dates
  • 6 August 2009 (2009-08-06) (Indonesia)
Running time
135 minutes (Original Indonesian Version)
112 minutes (International Version)
Country Indonesia
Language Indonesian

Merantau is a 2009 Indonesian martial arts film written and directed by Gareth Evans, and starring Iko Uwais.

It showcases a style of pencak silat known as Silek Harimau (Minang tiger silat) and a Minangkabau tradition known as merantau.[1][2] Evans and Uwais later collaborated again for the Indonesian action film The Raid: Redemption (2011) and its sequel (2014).

The film was released on August 6, 2009. Merantau won the Jury Award for Best Film at the 2010 ActionFest.[3]


The plot follows Yuda, a Minangkabau from West Sumatra and an expert in silat. As part of the merantau (journeying) tradition, he leaves his home to seek experience and success. He plans to teach silat to the children of Jakarta. On his bus journey, he meets Eric, a fellow exponent of the art. When he hears of Yuda's plan, Eric becomes sombre, and warns him that the city is quite different from what Yuda is used to, and also that it is difficult to make a living teaching the art. Yuda finds that the address where he was meant to stay has been torn down, so he becomes homeless. His wallet is stolen by a child named Adit. Chasing the thief, Yuda then encounters the thief's sister, Astri, quarrelling with her boss, Johnny. When Johnny begins abusing Astri, Yuda intervenes. Yuda saves Astri but instead of gratitude, he is rebuked because she had become jobless as a result. The next day, Yuda sees Astri once again being beaten by Johnny. He intervenes again only to be beaten at first by his thugs. He quickly recovers and saves Astri from Johnny, while saving her he brutally scars Johnny's boss, Ratger. Ratger's associate, Luc tries to calm down Ratger, but to no avail as Ratger decides to stay in the city to hunt down Astri and Yuda.

Yuda takes Astri and Adit to where he is staying in the city, a construction site. They talk, and Yuda explains why he came to the city and talks about his older brother, who used to always beat him up. Astri then explains how her parents abandoned her and Adit a few years ago, and how she has been taking care of them ever since. The next day, Yuda, Astri, and Adit decide to retrieve their savings from their home in an apartment complex. Yuda leaves Astri and Adit to retrieve the money, but he is caught in the act by several thugs sent to guard the building. Yuda starts fighting the henchmen while trying to reach Astri and Adit.

Meanwhile, Astri and Adit are seen by several guards as they are chased throughout the area. Astri helps Adit to hide as she is kidnapped by several henchmen. Yuda manages to defeat the attackers as he finds Adit. He promises Adit that he'll find his sister and tells him to hide as he sets off. Yuda returns to Johnny's club and quickly dispatches Johnny's henchmen. Johnny then gives the location of where to find Ratger, pointing to a nearby apartment building. Yuda makes his way into the apartment building as Ratger takes Astri upstairs to his room, telling a guard to wait downstairs in case Yuda appears. Yuda enters the elevator and starts to ride upwards only for the elevator to stop and the guard to enter. Yuda realizes the guard is Eric, the man he met on the bus, and Yuda tries to convince him he doesn't have to fight. Eric is ashamed of what he has become, but doesn't feel he has any way out, and they brutally fight in the elevator.

Ratger rapes Astri and takes her downstairs, leaving two guards to wait for the elevator. Meanwhile, Yuda defeats Eric, but spares him, saying that they are different. The elevator opens as the two guards point their guns towards the opening elevator doors. Eric redeems himself as he pushes Yuda to the side, away from the bullets; meanwhile, he is killed by the barrage of bullets. Yuda then defeats the guards and chases after Ratger. He sees Ratger and Astri in a car as they pull out of the parking lot. Yuda hops onto one of the cars as they drive away. The cars end at a shipping dock, where they put Astri in a storage container with other women. Ratger and Luc then notice Yuda approaching and send their henchmen to defeat him. Yuda defeats all of them as Ratger and Luc prepare to fight. The three fight in an epic showdown as Yuda holds his own against the two attackers. Luc and Ratger then gain the upper hand when they retrieve a crowbar and a metal pipe from the ground and begin attacking. Yuda eventually slams a container door onto Luc, causing him to impale himself with the crowbar.

Luc's death throws Ratger into a rage, and he viciously attacks Yuda, pinning him to a shipment container. Yuda gains the upper hand and defeats Ratger, but spares him from a killing blow. Yuda then opens the container, freeing the women. As Yuda and Astri reunite, Ratger attacks from behind, stabbing Yuda in the stomach. Yuda quickly finishes off Ratger as he collapses to the ground. After telling Astri his final wishes, Astri leaves, returning to her brother's hiding place. Astri and Adit eventually go to the countryside and live with Yuda's family. The story then ends with Yuda's mother standing in the doorway of the home watching Adit go to school; her perspective changes as she sees Adit as her son, Yuda.



The film had a mostly positive reaction from cinema critics.[4][5][6] At the website Rotten Tomatoes, it holds a 62% audience rating, indicating favorable reviews.[7]

Cole Abaius of Film School Rejects calls the film a "Mind-exploding action sequences coupled with genuine emotional impact."[8]

Harry Knowles of Ain't It Cool opines that the film is "a tremendous martial arts film"; noting it as an "outstanding" film.[8]

Moises Chiullan of Hollywood Elsewhere wrote that the film is "one of the more compelling and powerful martial arts films" he has seen.[8]

Andrew Mack, reviewing for Twitch Film, wrote that the film "is the next great martial arts film to come out and one of the best this past decade."[8]

Todd Brown, on another review for Twitch Film, praises the film by saying that it "serves very loud notice that Indonesia is back in the action game."[8]

Mike Leeder of Impact Magazine expresses his excitement toward the film, saying that it "proves Indonesian action cinema can stand alongside the best of the rest of the world."[8]


Merantau has received a number of awards and nominations both local and international. Among these are the Honorable Mention for Audience Award at the Fantastic Fest 2009[9] and Best Film at ActionFest 2010.[10]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result
2009 Austin Fantastic Fest Audience Award Merantau Honorable Mention
2010 ActionFest Jury Award for Best Film Merantau Won


External links[edit]