I saw Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash because of my inherent curiosity for Indonesian cinema. And then my interest wavered in and out of watching it because it competed with two other Indonesian films. What pulled me back in was when my boss described it as a Western, which sure, there are some elements of that in here, but it’s more like an action and adventure film with a few other genres in the mix. It centers on doomed lovers Ajo Kawir (Marthino Lio) and Iteung (Ladya Ceryl), whose complex love language includes fighting. Physical fighting. Other aspects of that language involve measuring each other for wedding suits and gowns. But of course, other issues, like Iteung’s past, try to keep them apart.
Edwin directs Vengeance with a certain vision, some of its aspect feel frustrating to watch. Choosing the late 80s and early 890s feels gimmicky despite of how accurate they portray the time. He drags out Ajo and Iteung’s separation for three whole years. Other action films normally use the passage of time to brew tension, but instead, some parts come to a standstill. This is also one of the few instances where a director doesn’t need to flesh out more back stories and subplots for secondary characters. Cutting ten minutes would have made this film flow much better. Nonetheless, the Indonesian culture that he displays feels adjacent to mine, thus bias. Even if he makes you wait for the action scenes, they’re worth it.