Valentine: The Dark Avenger (Indonesia 2017)

Rating: **
Review Date: 5/27/19
Cast: Estelle Linden, Arie Dagienkz, Matthew Settle

A filmmaker named Bono (Matthew Settle) wants to make a super hero movie, but no one wants to produce it. In an attempt to raise awareness for his cause, he recruits an attractive waitress named Sri (Estelle Linden) to don a costume and fight crime while his fashion designer friend Wawan (Arie Dagienkz) captures it on video. It's a good thing she learned silat from her dad, or else this ridiculously dangerous idea would have ended very quickly and poorly for her. As she upgrades her tools, costume, and fighting skills, she continues to upstage the police and eventually comes face-to-face with a villain called Shadow, who has been plaguing Batavia City with brazen acts of terrorism.

It's certainly an ambitious project, but the CGI and green screen effects are embarrassingly awful. The most hilariously terrible scene comes right at the beginning, when some people are pretending to vape and the smoke is added in post. That definitely sets the bar for what to expect throughout the film. The story is ridiculous and it quickly becomes apparent that Bono has no intentions of making a movie and is just using Sri to try and cope with a past trauma. Even though Sri demonstrates that she can handle herself in a fight, Bono takes irrational risks and clearly has no interest in her safety or well-being. It's unclear why she continues to work with him, and even less clear why Wawan stays involved. It's also immediately obvious who the masked villain is, and the drama is tedious and overplayed. And finally, there are a couple of silly and pointless post-credit scenes that just reek of self-indulgence and self-importance.

On the plus side, Estelle Linden is a gorgeous and capable actress. She appears to do a lot of her own stunts, and her form and execution look great. Unfortunately, the fight scenes are pretty weak due to soft hits, over-exaggerated sound effects, and poor editing. The costumed villains are also a bit too much, and are hard to take seriously. Matthew Settle's grating character is a constant nuisance, and the film would be much better off without him. It's also odd that he's the only American and English speaking character in the film. My only guess is that it was a deliberate attempt to attract an international audience? "Throw in an annoying American and we can sell it overseas!" If you can get past the absurd premise and the bad visual effects, and just focus on the charming Estelle Linden, it can be a somewhat entertaining outing.