Tough GuysOh Indonesia, where have your action movies been all my life? A few months ago I reviewed eponymous director Arizal’s The Stabilizer and I was totally won over by its crass dialogue, silly plot and complete disregard for the safety of stuntmen. I knew there was a follow up, but without the name Arizal attached, I was somewhat apprehensive.

I was a fool.


aka: Rambu
original title: Pembalasan rambu
Indonesia, 1986, Jopi Burnama

In an unnamed tropical location, fear runs amok as crime lord, Mr. White (Craig Gavin), and his gang of thugs violently demand money from the poor while littering the streets with prostitutes and drugs. It seems that things couldn’t be simpler until an “unemployed bum” walks into town. An unemployed bum with an attitude. This unemployed bum is called Rambu, and he’s about to go on his own personal mission to smash everything in sight. And by everything, I mean everything.

Played by the magnificent Peter O’Brian, Rambu is either a deeply complex character or a very simple one. O’Brian plays the character as complex while the rest of the cast play him as simple. I’m with the cast on this one, because it seems like Rambu’s sole reason for living is to be the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time, getting involved in things that are none of his business and seriously endangering the people he loves in the process. At one point, late in the movie, a villain tells him “No, Rambu, you’ve got guts but no brains.” I couldn’t agree more.

It’s unusual for an action film of this type to have a protagonist fighting for no reason, but that’s what we get here. There is seemingly no driving force for Rambu’s one man mission to destroy Mr. White and his organization until Mr. White, rightly, retaliates at Rambu for meddling in his business. This provides for plenty of hilarious exposition early on, but as the movie develops and the fights get bigger and more ridiculous, Rambu’s intensely focused mission starts to look less like the actions of a vigilante, and more like the actions of a man who’s suffering a serious mental breakdown.

I know the character is supposed to be a rip off of Rambo, but where Rambo seems to have legitimate reasons for his breakdown in First Blood – suffering from post-traumatic stress after being tortured in Vietnam – Rambu’s only real gripe is that he’s been unemployed for six months and has to rely on a woman to provide for him. Tough break.

Even as the people close to him, friends and lovers and even villains, try to reason with him, Rambu is having none of it. He won’t stop until everything has been smashed. The man is a menace, using the excuse of vigilantism to kill everything in sight. Peter O’Brian will never be called a fine actor, but here he plays his character with stone-faced perfection.

Also returning is Craig Gavin playing pretty much the same bad guy character he nailed in The Stabilizer. He was having fun in that movie, but you get the impression he was having an absolute blast in this one.

He snorts cocaine at every opportunity, kills hookers for no reason, and indulges in some of the least sexy sex scenes I’ve ever seen. The guy is just too damn likeable to hate, making his retaliation towards the insane actions of Rambu all the more understandable.

As this game of tit for tat escalates into bigger and more elaborate set pieces, it’s no surprise when Rambu finally decides to tool up, go shirtless and Rambo the fuck out of everything in sight, effectively ending the movie once there is nobody left to kill.

Released in 1986, the same year as The Stabilizer, The Intruder shares more than a few similarities including writers, actors and even music. It’s not entirely clear which movie was released first but The Intruder is generally considered the sequel. Knowing a little of the Indonesian movie industry at this time, I’m guessing they finished shooting one movie and went straight onto making another before The Stabilizer was even released. This would explain a number of things.

For one, there is next to no budget here for the action scenes. The stunts are still pretty good, but not as nuts as the previous effort, which is a shame. I’m also fairly convinced there was no working script as characters and subplots come and go like no tomorrow. This isn’t really a problem as it gives the film a real unpredictable edge as ideas are thrown around. It also makes sense that the cast (even down to the smaller roles) would return so eagerly to work again, as the sudden boom in productions during the late 70s to mid-80s would have provided plenty of jobs for a seemingly unestablished industry. However, I would like to think that they returned because they enjoyed themselves so much. That would certainly ring true in the cases of O’Brian and Gavin in the leads.

This makes it all the more baffling that Arizal didn’t return too. But looking at both directors’ filmographies, Arizal also directed a sequel to Burnama’s Ferocious Female Freedom Fighters (1982). I’d wage a bet that directors, like crew, simply moved from one project to another like a great big hilarious action movie knock off factory. Hell, 1986 must have been a great time to be making movies in Indonesia. Unless you were a stuntman. I mean just look at this action scene and tell me these guys aren’t having a ball?

I could go on and on about this movie. There’s not a single scene that doesn’t have something worth writing about. It’s just amazingly entertaining from first frame to last. Where The Stabilizer occasionally stumbles and becomes bogged down by a tiresome narrative, The Intruder only slows down, ironically, once Rambu goes all nuts at the climax and apes John Rambo. And even then, it’s chock full of death of destruction.

Put simply – The Intruder delivers.

I’m not sure what it delivers, but I was deeply satisfied with it. Whatever it was.


Sadly, I don’t think The Intruder is available the purchase anywhere, legally. You can, however, purchase a copy from Cult Action.