Java Heat’s title is not a reference to hot coffee. Now that I’ve gotten that out-of-the-way, it is time for the film review.
Ever been to Indonesia? Java? Ever heard of Borobudur Temple? Well it is these places that form the back drop for the film Java Heat.
The films stars Kellan Lutz as an American Marine/FBI Agent/Grad student/Teaching Assistant. Pick one or pick them all – same result as he is all of the above at one time or another in the film. He’s paired with an Indonesian Muslim cop played by Ario Bayu. They play the good guys in a combo cop/buddy/fish out of water adventure thriller set in Indonesia.
Naturally there’s a bad guy. For the worst of them, look no further than the third billing and we find Mickey Rourke as Malik. Roarke, even when speaking English, requires subtitles. Okay, I get that he’s not playing an American but a European, but still – if ever the expression – a mouth full of marbles – could be used, please consider this performance.
What’s the film about? Kidnapping, jewel theft, and terrorism all show their heads in this one. As I said above – pick one or pick them all as they all fit.
Lutz is the hero per se. Assuming we want to use Channing Tatum and the words acting chops in the same sentence, then we can slot Kellan Lutz as a low rent version of Channing Tatum. Only without the ‘acting chops’.
I liked the Indonesian cop played by Ario Bayo much better.
Okay, what haven’t I mentioned yet? Right. Women. There’s the Javanese cop’s wife, there’s pole dancers, strippers, prostitutes, and before I forget – The Sultan’s daughter. Naturally, we meet her quite early on as Lutz as Jake Wilde hits on her at a swanky charity party. She’s nameless aside from Sultana or Princess. She’s played by the gorgeous Atiqah Hasiholan.
Yes, she is the prettiest girl at the party as Jake describes her and his reasons for chatting her up. That is, until a human suicide bomber appears and blows the place up. Lieutenant Hashim (Bayu) later says to Jake, “You were the last person she spoke to; what did you say and what did you see?”
There’s your set up.
The film has plenty of production values, more than capable action set pieces, hand guns, AK’s, grenade launchers, explosions, car chases, and a hint of sex. It looks like they were very careful about not including any nudity either. Check out the trailer:
The script was a story you’ve scene multiple times before. With the addition of the not often seen in western films – Indonesia. Indonesia is the world’s 4th largest country, and has more Muslims than any other country. So unless you’ve been to Indonesia, the locale will be very fresh.
However, the same cannot be said about the rest of the film. The cops, the bar girls, the hero – all seem so familiar to me, and likely to you, because we’ve seen them so many times.
For location – I can only compare this film to The Year of Living Dangerously (1982). With the difference being that film had Sigourney Weaver and Mel Gibson in the leads.That film was set in Indonesia but was filmed in the Philippines, and Australia. For the mismatched cops – think of Ah-nuld and Jim Belushi in the ever popular Red Heat (1988). And for Americans under fire in an exotic place think of Jamie Foxx in The Kingdom (2007).
I can say, with a minimum of thought, that all of those movies were far better than this one. Still, even though I won’t offer praise, I can’t toss this one into the remainder bin either.
I think it is worth watching the next time you’re stuck at home sitting out a blizzard. It is a 2013 release. Netflix will rent the DVD.
The Jakarta Post concluded their review written by Vandana Nanwani, with this description of Yogyakarta, where most of the film was shot:
Yes, we are talking about a city in the heart of Java that hasn’t been visited by King Kong, survived by Superman, nor invaded by legions of aliens.
For pioneering such vision, this movie is worth a watch.
For contrast, I give you the lead in of the review in Slant Magazine, written by Chuck Bowen:
Java Heat adheres to the reliable guidelines of the buddy-cop movie. The rules are invitingly simple. A white cop, or some other vague official who can somewhat logically carry a gun in public, is paired with a not-white cop, or some other vague official who can somewhat logically carry a gun in public.
I’ll go with a three-point zero rating on the one to five scale.