dxtCEuN7 Buffalo Boys 2018 15
Buffalo Boys 2018 15
Yoshi Sudarso as Suwo

Buffalo Boys: Western with a difference

Riley Riley

Like Westerns? Looking for something different? Then check out the 2018 film Buffalo Boys.

Described as an action western, the Indonesian–Singaporean production is a no holds barred mix of six guns, knives, tomahawks, machetes and bows and arrows, as the protagonists go head to head in the lush jungles of Java.

Directed by Mike Wiluan, it stars Yoshi SudarsoArio BayuPevita Pearce.

Wiluan is also known for The Night Comes for Us (2018) and Hitman: Agent 47 (2015).

The action unfolds in the 1860s American West, where brothers Jamar (Ario Bayu) and Suwo (Yoshi Sudarso), have just finished working with their uncle on the Transcontinental Railroad.

As they are leaving on the train, they get into a shootout with some baddies after Jamar wins a fist-fight on which they were betting.

Their uncle is wounded in the encounter and asks to return home to Indonesia from which he fled many years ago with the brothers as babies.

On their return Jamar and Suwo, now packing six guns and other assorted hardware, are drawn into the conflict between a villager and the oppressive Dutch regime led by administrator Captain Van Trach (Reinout Bussemaker) and his lieutenant Drost (Daniel Adnan) who also packs a pistol.

Together they must do battle against the ruthless Van Trach and his henchmen to free the native Indonesians from colonial oppression.

Mixing the Western genre with other genres is not new.

Cowboys & Aliens (2011) springs to mind, Red Sun (1971) to a lesser extent Billy Jack (also 1971) and of course the 1972 TV series and spin off movies of Kung Fu.

Wiluan said he he had become tired of traditional colonial-themed Indonesian films, which he likened to being in a classroom.

He came up with the idea of a cowboy film set in colonial Java.

The initial script ran to 150 pages, before it was condensed.

Buffalo Boys is a little rough around the edges, but Wiluan deserves a pat on the back for having a red hot go.

The production values are high and the fight scenes are the highlight of the film as the brothers using machetes and hand-to-hand duels that combine Indonesian silat techniques with other forms of martial arts.

And any review of this film would be remiss without mentioning the buffalo riding scenes, from which the film takes its title.

In the early part of the film we seem a masked riding firing a bow from the back of a buffalo.

Later the brothers mount buffalos as they speed towards town and the final showdown.

Facing off in the street, Van Trach taunts them.

“What are you? Cowboys of the Wild West?

“Cowboys ride horses, not buffalo. And if I can’t call you cowboys, I will call you . . . the Buffalo Boys.

“So what’s it going to be? War. Or peace? I think this is what they call a showdown.”

Wiluan explained he thought riding a water buffalo would be similar to riding a horse and easy.

But they found it to be one of the most difficult tasks of the whole movie.

However, the biggest problem was the weather; when it rained they were forced to find shelter, making it difficult to film outdoors.

Buffalo Boys is not the worst film I’ve ever seen. It’s not the best either — but it’s entertaining and definitely not like being in school.
It’s a refreshing take on the Western genre thanks to the culturally significant setting and the awesome action sequences, even if other aspects of the film fall short.
You can catch Buffalo Boys on Prime Video.

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Time out score

Final thoughts . . .

It’s different, but in a good way.


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