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Thunderstruck: A TIFF Review of ‘Gundala’

September 18, 2019Ben MK

For North American audiences, Gundala might not be a household name. But for fans of Indonesian comics, the character has a long and storied history going back to 1969. Now, thanks to writer/director Joko Anwar, Gundala is making the leap to the big screen — and it's the beginning of a whole new cinematic universe.

Orphaned at a young age, Sancaka (Abimana Aryasatya) didn't have a easy childhood. But now that he's a man, life isn't that much better. A security guard at a factory in Jakarta, Sancaka has bore witness to the crime and corruption that permeates the city, and although he's trained in the martial-arts, he's lacked the true power that he needs to stop it — until now. Struck by lightning and granted the superhuman power of Gundala, Sancaka dons the costume of a hero and sets out to take down the villainous Pengkor (Bront Palarae), whose evil scheme involves an army of orphan assassins and a drug designed to corrupt future generations before they're even born.

Drawing inspiration from Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy and Thor, Gundala may seem like a rip-off of the Western superhero genre — and maybe it is. But if that's the case, it's at least an entertaining one, setting up the character as just the first of many similarly larger-than-life heroes poised to take the cinema world by storm.

Gundala makes its international premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 59 min.

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