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Buffalo Boys

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“Buffalo Boys,” an Indonesian action movie hybrid, is essentially made up of two different movies that barely go together: a thrilling martial arts film and a lurid revisionist Western. The plot is pretty standard for an action film: sometime in 1860, Indonesian brothers Jamar (Ario Bayu) and Suwo (Yoshi Sudarso) return to Java and avenge the death of their father, kind-hearted Sultan Hamza (Mike Lucock). There doesn’t need to be more to “Buffalo Boys,” but there is, as an introductory title crawl teases. We are told that “accounts of suppression, brutality, and tragedy are often lost in tales of folklore. This is one story where the world of facts and fiction collide.” That foreword over-promises what writer/director Mike Wiluan and his co-writer Raymond Lee eventually deliver. Because for the most part, “Buffalo Boys” is a decent folk tale, despite Lee and Wiluan’s periodic application of “Game of Thrones”-style sensationalism. 

Wiluan and Lee are, for the most part, content to populate “Buffalo Boys” with familiar characters. For starters: Jamar and Suwo are the kind of siblings that you only meet in action movies. They have a moral code, as we see when they return to Java and spend most of their time deciding which bad guys to beat up.

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