Sometimes a film comes along that defies explanation. Writer-director Edwin’s Indonesian thriller Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash is like the everything bagel of genre flicks. VIMAOPC, pulls from several genres—Kung fu films, crime flicks, horror movies, melodramas—to deliver one of TIFF 2021’s most audacious movies.
VIMAOPC is about a young man named Ajo Kawir (Marthino Lio). I’ve got to be blunt here. Ajo can’t achieve an erection, which is the ultimate shame in his macho society. Ajo’s impotence is the root of much frustration, and he deals with it by acting tough and starting fights. When Ajo meets a lady badass, Iteung (Ladya Cheryl), she accepts him despite his insecurities. But Ajo may be too set in his ways for Iteung’s love to sway him from his self-destructive path.
The big question here is do all VIMAOPC’s disparate influences work together? Almost, but not quite. Edwin’s freewheeling style is a sight to behold, but the film suffers from significant pacing issues. Clocking in at an unnecessary 114-minutes, VIMAOPC could trim quite a bit of fat. The film features kick-ass fights, but not enough to call it a legit action flick. And the supernatural elements don’t come into play until late in the story. What’s left is a lot of drawn-out melodrama which, won’t please viewers lured in by the promise of an ass-kicking ghost story.
At least the gorgeous cinematography (shot on 16mm film) and vibrant colour palette offer some eye candy whenever the story drags.