Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Nyi Ageng Ratu Pemikat (Indonesia, 1983)



Nyi Ageng Ratu Pemikat is an odd film. Odd not just because it is an Indonesian action fantasy directed by Sundel Bolong’s Sisworo Gautama Putra and starring Suzzanna and Barry Prima, which are characteristically odd, but also odd in contrast to the expectations that such films typically raise. The best I can put it is that, for a large part of its running time, Nyi Ageng Ratu Pemikat is like a steamy plantation romance with all of the sex taken out. Its most erotic moment sees Suzzanna felating her own finger, followed by a shot of two frogs fucking.

I’ve often said, though perhaps not out loud, that Suzzanna and Barry Prima deserve a place alongside Tracy and Hepburn in the pantheon of great screen couples, even if they were usually cast in opposition to each other. Such pairings usually featured Prima as the righteous muscle farmer pitted against one of Suzzanna’s patented wild eyed devil women. In Nyi Ageng Ratu Pemikat, however, we get the rare treat of seeing both cast as protagonists, a pair of star-crossed lovers who come up against obstacles both worldly and otherworldly in their quest to be together.



Nyi Ageng Ratu Pemikat, which I watched bereft of the sweet mercy that subtitles might have provided, is based on an Indonesian comic book called Nyai Rangsang, which in turn might be based on the life of Indonesian national heroine Nyi Ageng Serang -- though, if it is, I feel comfortable in saying that it is very loosely based on same. In any case, the first act sees Suzzanna’s 19th century heroine, as we are so accustomed, repeatedly subjected to the worst depredations of men. In most Suzzanna films, this would be balanced out by her becoming some kind of blood thirsty vengeance demon in the second half, but in Nyi Ageng Ratu Pemikat, well… perhaps I should just continue with the summary.

We open on a triple tragedy, with Suzzanna’s long suffering mom, neglected by her cruel husband (H.I.M. Damsjik), dying in her bed as, meanwhile, her pregnant sister, abandoned by her unborn baby’s father, performs a violent abortion on herself with a pointy bedpost (Nyi Ageng Ratu Pemikat don’t mess). Afterward, the grieving Suzzanna is cast out into the stormy night by her father. Later, she is forced to marry a wealthy plantation owner who attempts to rape her on their wedding night. Suzzanna flees and, rather than be captured by her husbands’ pursuing minions, throws herself from a cliff into the raging river below. Her husband, attempting to catch her, plummets after her and dies. Later, a passing sorceress saves Suzzanna by levitating her out of the rapids using spooky hand gestures. She takes her back to her magic cave and performs a number of rituals on her which include making a diamond disappear into her forehead and sticking a needle into her cheek to seemingly no effect. Suzanna also appears to place a red hot ember against her vagina. From my vantage point, none of this had any bearing on what occurs throughout the rest of the movie.





Suzzanna eventually ends up as the kept woman of Sastro, the troll-ish plantation supervisor played by Soendjoto Adibroto, whose name we will never spell out again. The posh lifestyle attendant to this role is reflected by Suzzanna in her many amazing costumes and ornate head adornments. Unfortunately, her heart truly belongs to Broto, the studly young farm boy played by Barry Prima. Suzzanna first meets Broto when he saves her from a gang of workers who are attempting to rape her, and defends him when Sastro almost runs him and his mom down in his carriage. Suzzanna soon falls into a passionate, Vaseline lensed romance with Broto. And who can blame her? Young Barry Prima is looking especially delicious here, as we will now contemplate:





Ha ha, bros! Now you’re all gay. (While 4DK continues its long standing effect of making its straight women readers even more heterosexual.)

Sastro eventually becomes aware of Suzzanna’s dalliances and turns to a completely other sorceress for help, who has a female chorus line at her beck and call to perform the necessary disco dancing aspects of her rituals (it’s telling that, in a movie where Suzzanna plays a mortal protagonist, we need two fiery eyed witch women to compensate). Potions are devised and voodoo dolls are pricked and, just to pick up the strays, Sastro takes to roaming the plantation grounds with a deadly blowgun.


One day, Broto follows Sastro as he carries the corpse of one of his victims to the sorceress’ cave, where he turns it into a gold plated zombie. Sastro sees that the walls of the cave are lined with poor souls who have similarly been turned into such creatures. Then a quarrel breaks out between Sastro and the sorceress which ends with him tearing off her head, which flies away of its own accord. A black cat then bursts out of the sorceress’ entrails and attack Sastro, which is extremely gross and legitimately surprising.



I should also mention that, just in case Sastro doesn’t seem reprehensible enough to you at this point, he also hobnobs with those bastard Dutch. (Be forewarned that I fully intend to use my one quarter Dutch heritage as license to malign that people at every opportunity. However, should you who are free of my native blood dare to call my people “tulip chewers” – which I’ve just learned is one of the only extent slurs for Dutch people – you will taste my fists. “Tulip chewers” is our word!) This leads to Suzzanna receiving the unwanted attentions of a Dutch nobleman played by an actor whom, due to my not knowing his name, I will simply refer to as Indonesia’s Tom Alter.


Nyi Ageng Ratu Pemikat roars to a close with the desperate Sastro taking Suzzanna hostage and Barry Prima’s Broto risking all kinds of death traps to save her. This section also offers us some nice martial sequences as both Barry and Suzzanna fight their way out of the cave, sending golden zombies and evil minions alike flying hither and thither. Oh, and then we get some nice exploding lair action to put the icing on the cake, which is not the kind of ending I would have expected from this film given the tear-plumbing melodrama that it started out with.

Nyi Ageng Ratu Pemikat is one of those films about which there appears to be a lot of information on the internet, until you find that each site simply re-pastes its meager Indonesian Wikipedia entry. What I did learn from that entry is that Nyi Ageng Ratu Pemikat was Indonesia’s third highest grossing film of 1985. Despite arousing suspicion that the author of that entry suffered some confusion around the movie’s actual release date, I can totally understand it being that popular. I admit to being baffled by Nyi Ageng Ratu Pemikat at first, but, by the end, I was so on board with it that no amount of counter-hexing could break its spell. Score one more for Indonesia.

5 comments:

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Todd said...

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Timothy Paxton said...

mind-blowing as usual! thanks!!!

Todd said...

You're very welcome, Timothy. Thanks for reading!

MUSHADILA said...



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butuh angka
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jika anda
butuh angka
tembus langsung
dari DUTA BESAR SINGAPURA
silahkan hub
BU LIN di NO:082=333=735=226

DI JAMIN TEMBUS
TRIMA KASIH