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|Directed by||Bongsu Bertukang|
|Written by||Deang Tembam|
|Produced by||Elyas Tinggi|
|Starring||Kembara Seniman |
|Edited by||Sabtu Askar |
|Music by||Perang Kunci|
The Brotherhood (Pelangi: Perabangan) is a 2023 Surubonese neo-noir science fiction psychological thriller directed by Bongsu Bertukang and starring Kembara Seniman, Ng Sau, Rene Siang, Seroja Puspasari. The story follows Kemangi, a prizefighter with a prosthetic arm, and Margeaux, the girlfriend of the crime boss, Kejam. Initially they meet as acquaintances but soon develop a relationship fueled by drugs, after Kejam discovers the relationship, the two must escape in a world where reality and delusion blend together.
Kemangi (Seniman) is performing at an underground prizefight. Inside the room with a few dozen other men, the announcer introduces the last man standing fight, and its previous champion, Mouzou. Kemangi is made to take off his prosthetic arm, and insert eye drops, which cause his eyes to dilate and turn bloodshot. A melee ensues as the men are thrown blunt weapons, pipes, chairs, and such. Ultimately Kemangi and Mouzou are left and the two battle one another. Kemangi is forced to the ground, a man comes forth and empties the contents of a tool box onto the floor. Mouzou grabs a pipe wrench and prepares to strike Kemangi. Kemangi kicks Mouzou in his genitals, causing him to fall in pain, then grabs a screwdriver and stabs him in the ankle, Kemangi gets up, then the referee calls the contest, preventing any more harm to Mouzou.
Kemangi is declared the winner, he looks up to the rafters where the cheering crowd watches. In a small booth he can see a man dressed in a pristine suit and tie, and a woman dressed in a provocative black dress. They stand up and descend from the booth down to the floor, Kemangi bows and addresses him as “Che Wirasatya”, the man hands him his winnings, $450. He instructs Kemangi that he can now call him Kejam (Siang). He instructs him to watch his girlfriend, Margeaux (Ng), while she goes out to the city with friends, he must attend to other matters.
Kemangi has his arm returned and while still bruised and bloody, cleans up and wears a black suit and tie on loan from Kejam. He joins her friends through the neon soaked streets of the city. They eat at an upscale Sernian restaurant. Margeaux asks Kemangi about himself, to which he gives sparse details. When asked about his arm he declines to answer, calling it a “battle scar and nothing else” The group eventually leaves and Margeaux returns to her hotel with Kemangi. While in her suit, she uses the eye spray, and downs multiple pills, implied to be Barbiturate. She offers them to Kemangi, he takes the eye spray, his eyes dilated and bloodshot once again, but pockets the pills. Margeaux dances around the room, until she collapses onto the floor, Kemangi checks her pulse, and then leaves the room and stands outside the door until daybreak.
The next day Margeaux has Kemangi guard her while they go to an open air market in the city. After shopping for odds and ends they arrive as a small food booth. They sit down, the eating area surrounded by clear plastic curtains. They order their food and start eating. Margeaux confesses that she is unhappy in her relationship with Kejam. Revealing she used to be a Casino Girl (euphemism for a prostitute) before she caught Kejam's eye. Now she's trapped in the underground with him. When Kemangi asks why she is telling him this, she explains that she feels they come from the same background, that she can trust someone who came up from the gutter like herself. She then asks about his arm. Kemangi tells her that during one prizefight, his arm was shattered, and the healing process was botched, so his arm was amputated. His stable boss at the time bought him his new arm, as a way to make money on his investment in him. The two eat their food.
Kemangi escorts Margeaux back to the car. However he notices that they're being trailed by a group of three men. Kemangi forces Margeaux down a series of winding side streets. But they are ambushed as a man runs from a corner in front of them, gun drawn, as the others run in after the two. Kemangi punches the man with his prosthetic, killing him instantly. Kemangi takes his gun and turns around to confront the men closing in on them, a gun battle follows. The two run through the streets, Kemangi shoots one of their assailants. Margeaux car Jack's a small motorbike, margeaux drives while Kemangi sits in the back, shooting at the men following them.
Margeaux clumsily navigates the slums of the city, they get distance from their assailants and she ditches the bike in front of a destitute tin shall and runs in. Inside the dimly lit shack are various slot machines, mangy drug addicts, and young women dressed in scant clothing. Margeaux talks to an old lady who runs the operation, Cik Siti. She ushers them to an upstairs room, a small 3×3 with a single mattress on the floor. The two can hear the men run in and say they're looking for someone, the old woman tells them that two people ditched the bike here and ran east on foot. After an argument, the men relent and leave, following the false trail. Cik Siti comes up to tell them they have left, and Margeaux gives her a hug.
Cik Siti is the owner of this small casino/brothel and knows Margeaux, although their connections remain murky. Cik Siti allows the two to stay the night, Margeaux inquires about a "serampang", Cik Siti nods, and leaves, grabbing an object from a desk drawer and returning. She hands a small metal tube, with 6, long, and thin prongs coming out the end. Cik Siti leaves them be. Margeaux takes off her top, back facing Kemangi, revealing a metal port between her shoulder blades. She lays down on her belly and instructs Kemangi to insert the device into the port, tears running down her cheeks. Kemangi does so, as the device is inserted it makes a whirring noise, then Margeaux is overtaken by convulsions. She enters a dream state, where she envisions a family in the sleep fog-covered mountains of Surubon. The home is traditional, she remarks that it feels just like the home she grew up in. She explores it, every small space she can find. Eventually she steps outside to admire the surrounding nature. She feels a presence and quickly turns, standing next to her is Kemamgi. Margeaux abruptly wakes up, her face covered in sweat, snot, and drool. Kemangi enters, and passes her a small towel to clean herself up. Kemangi pulls out the pills from his pocket he had kept from the night before, they split them and swallow them dry. They kiss, and Margeaux and Kemangi have sex before the effects of the pills set in and they fall into a deep sleep. Through a crack in the door we can see a figure looking in at them through the crack.
Kejam is at his desk, on the phone talking to an unknown person. A man walks into the office, Kejam finishes his call and starts to talk to the man. The men have a conversation about the attack on Margeaux, Kejam is disappointed the attack failed, impressed that Kemangi took his task so far, and expresses admiration for his loyalty. The other man reveals that Margeaux might be cheating on him with Kemangi, showing him a picture taken of the two mid coitus through the door gap. Kejam smiles and shrugs it off, laughing to himself. The man claims they are probably still at the same location and that they could send men into the building to kill them, Kejam declines, he claims he has a better idea.
Kejam is at a small fine dining establishment. Dressed in a suit and awaiting his company. He is met by Daut. The two sit down and enjoy a bottle of Gaullican wine together over a course of Etruro-Zorasani cuisine. Kejam opens up and offers to buy Kemangi from Daut. Daut initial protests, claiming he's still $127,000 in debt for his arm and neural-links, and his contract still has another 8 years. Kejam puts an offer of $5 million for Kemangi, Daut, initially speechless, agrees to the deal. They shake hands and after dinner Daut transfers Kemangi's Technical Data Package to Kejam. He is then driven to a small warehouse, where he enters and is met by several company officials. Kejam discusses with them that he needs a new bodyguard. The men bring him to a sterile white lab room, and introduce him to a prototype Gynoid. It is dressed up as a stereotypical Senrian Geisha, alluding to its role as a "service and security model". The men claim that it comes stock with a 8 gauge Slag shotgun and 5.7mm machine gun.
Kemangi and Margeaux leave the hotel after an undetermined time. Kejam calls Kemangi asking about his location, he says that a situation occurred and they were laying low for a while. Kejam says he understands and offers them his apartment in the city if needed. Kemangi agrees and the two make their way to the apartment. There they meet Kejam who asks about the situation, and upon hearing it from both Kemangi and Margeaux says it's probably the work of a rival gang. The two then meet Rinin (Puspasari), the geisha server and hostess of the apartment. Kejam leaves and the three make themselves comfortable. Rinin serves the two tea and food, and Margeaux and Kemangi talk about the implications of their time at the casino. Kemangi is regretful of their encounter, margeaux retorts by saying "I've never been allowed choice, I slept with you not out of obligation, but because it was the first time I could choose to." The two share a kiss in the bedroom and go to sleep. In the night Kemangi wakes up to use the bathroom, and Margeaux gets up to smoke on the balcony. When Kemangi returns he is confronted by Rinin in the darkness of the hallway. But drifts back into the darkness.
The next morning Kejam returns, and says that Margeaux must come with him. She leaves with Kejam and now it is just Kemangi and Rinin in the apartment, something he feels deeply uncomfortable about. Me makes sure to keep his gun on him, out of fear. Kejam leads Margeaux to another building. He sits her down and confronts her with the picture of her and Kemangi having sex, and a hidden camera photo of them kissing in the apartment, along with an audio recording of her talking about choice just beforehand. He pulls out a device similar to the serampang from earlier. Kejam declares that in this device is a collection of every memory, and every thought she has ever had, the entirety of her own understanding of herself. Her identity. And if she does not cooperate, he will place it into her port, and overload her neural-link, causing a sort of cybernetic psychosis. She will forget everything, and never be allowed to form new memories or a new identity ever again. Kejam demands that she lure Kemangi as part of a trap. She agrees under duress, sobbing as she does so. Kejam then goes to his computer, and uploads Kemangis technical data package, where he adds in an interference signal to his neural-link.
That night, Kemangi is in the apartment when Rinin calls for him. He follows her voice to the living area where she stands in the middle, she proclaims him a sinner, who must be punished. At that moment, Kemangi senses a strange feeling, the world around him starts to warble and distort, as if everything is dissolving into the air. Rinins arm opens up to reveal the shotgun hidden in her forearm, she shoots, striking Kemangi in his prosthetic, blasting it off his body and shredding it to pieces. He flees, attempting to reach for his gun with his weak hand. As he bolts out of the apartment he gets his gun and starts shooting at Rinin, missing his shots. As he runs through the apartment complex the walls and stairs shift around him and are ever moving in a non-euclidean fashion as the world around him is still heavily distorted. He shoots back as Rinin switches between their shotgun and machine gun to fire at him, missing in all but one instance, where Kemangi's leg is hit by her machine gun fire. He finally hits and kills Rinin just as he runs out of bullets and throws his gun away, running in a frantic manner. He then hears Margeaux's voice, she beckons him to follow her voice, he does so and eventually finds her. She leads him down a long and dark set of stairs, Until eventually they reach a door, upon opening it, they arrive at the building's roof, overlooking the ocean and skyline. It is here that Kejam confronts him.
Kejam pulls a gun on Kemangi, when asked what is going on, Kejam explains that he knew what him and Margeaux were up to, disappointed that his trust in him was misplaced. Kejam reveals his true intent, after seeing his performance at the prizefight, he intended to buy him for security work, but wanted to test him first. He had grown tired of Margeaux and wished her dead. She had learned about aspects of the business, and of certain sexual fetishes of Kejams's that he did not want to get out. So he set up the ambush, hoping to kill Margeaux but to also see how Kemangi would do as security. He then tells Kemangi that he used Margeaux as bait, so he could personally punish Kemangi for his betrayal. The two stare each other down, Margeaux sobbing violently behind Kejam. Margeaux apologizes to Kemangi, then Kejam pulls the trigger, shooting Kemangi in the head, killing him instantly. Afterwards, Kejam has Margeaux back in his office, where a large padded massage table has been placed in the middle of the room. He places the item containing her memories back into the shelf on his desk. He says he is going to get ready, and instructs her to stripe naked for him. He leaves the room and Margeaux does so, but she also rushes to the desk and grabs the device, almost caught as Kejam returns, naked himself. He lays down on the table face down, revealing that he too has a port on his back, he instructs her to give him a massage. As she does so, she places the memory device in his port, he starts to convulse, and in his dream state we can see his and margeaux memories meld together, distorting and dissolving into one another as his Neural-link is overloaded. His identity is scrambled and then destroyed. In his convulsive state, Margeaux chokes him to death. She gets dressed and leaves the office, the final scene is her returning to the roof, looking over Kemangi's body
- Kembara Seniman as Kemangi: A drug addicted and impoverished Prizefighter with a robotic prosthetic for a right arm. He is taken up as a bodyguard for Kejam after a victory in a secretive underground fight club. His sullen and aloof personality hides a violent and traumatized loner.
- Ng Sau as Margeaux: A prostitute and Kejams girlfriend. After a night out with Kemangi as her bodyguard she trusts him dearly, and as she shows herself useful in the criminal underworld she shows Kemangi her usefulness.
- Rene Siang as Kejam Wirasatya: Crime Boss of the Telu Pedang Organization, A swave and smarmy man who dresses exclusively in expensive suits and wears his ties in flamboyant knots, seen mostly with a pair of gold lensed round rimless sunglasses. His motives are mysterious and his actions are seemingly erradic. Yet his plans are made with spectical in mind. He is both one of the most repected, wealthiest, and deadleist figured in the cities underground.
- Seroja Puspasari as Rinin: A Type 47E android, designed as both a home servent and home security model. They come with multiple self defense options, and was designed as a perfect killing machine for the needs of the rich and famous.
- Ayu Subagyo as Cik Siti: An elderly woman who runs a small slot house and brothel. She and Margeaux know each other well, She was Margeaux first madam, and is popular with the women in town for her seeming dedication to their wellbeing. She is instramental in helping Margeaux and Kemangi servive their first encounter with Kejams hired thugs.
- Isak Petani as Daut: A stable owner who owns Kemangi. He bought Kemangi from a promotor many years ago and has invested a lot of money into hat he consiters one of his best fighters. He is the one who paid for Kemangis cybernetic upgrades, he sells Kemangi for a lump sum of $4 Million, and hands over his technical data package to Kejam so that he may exploit Kemangi in his plan.
- Bagus Setiawan as Ateng: One of the original assialants who attempts to kill Margeaux.
- Guntur Ateng as Sundari: One of the original assailents who attempts to kill Margeaux, one who speaks to Chik Siti.
- Hamengku Sukamto as Soegihartanto: One of the original assailents who attempts to kill Margeaux, is killed by Kemangi.
- Francois Nhamezia as Mouzou: Kemangi last standing opponent in the initial fight scene, know for being one of the largest fighters in the event and was killed dozens of fighters in the ring.
- Harum Angsana as Kemboja: One of Margeaux friends who accompanies her to the club, continuously distrusting of Kemangi.
- Juwita Susilo as Merah: One of Margeaux friends who accompanies her to the club.
Conception and Writing
Perabangan wasinitially written as a television pilot for Surtel 7 in 20011. Surtel was looking for more original media for its new channel, aimed at younger demographics and focused on youth issues. However the company declined the pilot script after it failed a review by the Arts and Media Sensibility Board, failing to pass based on its extensive reference to drug culture and criminal youth subculture, which the board felt was glorifying an antisocial and rebellious lifestyle to impressionable youths. Writers Deang Tembam and Indah Sulaubang would sit on the script until 2014, when production company Sengem would hire Sulaubang as a principal writer for new properties. The two would rewrite the script as a crime drama. The script was picked up by Sengem in July of 2015, but financial issues brought on by fines from the Ministry of Art and Culture would hamper its early development. Sengem would file for bankruptcy in 2016 and would sell the script back to Tembam.
In August of 2020, Director Bongsu Bertukang would buy the rights to the script's production. He had just finished directing Lubang Ular, which had performed well on the festival circuit the year prior. Between 2020 and early 2021 the movie went through numerous rewrites as the three worked out the plot. Tembam and Sulaubang decided to move the plot in a more cyberpunk direction. Claiming that the movie made more sense at reflecting the realities many people are faced with. At the time the first reports of the Casino Girl Scandal were being reported, which influenced the setting and story. Tembam wanted the story to reflect a "generally anti-capitalist" attitude in surubonese society. As SEZs have become venues for economic growth and development they have also become major nodes for Human Trafficking in Surubon, a theme the film is centered on. The script drew inspiration from Heroic bloodshed films from south coius, Senrian Chanbara Films, Gaullican Cinéma du look, and Nouvelle Vague as well as Kejahatan Baru, a film movement which takes an introspective and critical look into Surubonese society through the lense of the countries criminal underground and counterculture, of which Bertukang is a leading figure with films like Lubang Ular, Bloody Saturday, and All the Bloody Leaves.
Tembam stated in an interview with Supuyadat, he stated "the whole process was nightmarish, and cathartic." he explained "You have all these ideas, all these criticisms of the world around you. It's hard not to just write that out what you see. Making it into something watchable is a challenge. Allegory and such is an esoteric artform." Bertukang stated in that same interview "The process was relatively easy, I think in moving pictures you see, so I just visualized what I wanted and put it to paper. I didn't take writing credits because I thought it was unfair to my colleagues. But when I saw the Geisha (Rinin), I could just see her arm opening up like a 4D bear trap with a gun barrel coming out, so I wrote that in. It was a marvellous time."
The script would be submitted to the new Ministry of Art and Culture Sensibility and Morality Council, where it would be rejected twice. However after edits to the script, which Bertukang claimed were mostly sex scenes he had written in in the third act, the script was accepted, and production company Astra purchased the script for an undisclosed amount.
Filming and Production
Director Bongsu Bertukang made the choice to use 800T 35mm Myrachrome film in 1.66:1 aspect ratio early in the pre-production phase. the film was shot in natural light with lower ISO during day time scenes, and scenes were contrasted with neon accented shots using standard ISO during night time and dark interior shots. Giving the film a naturally grainy and retro look. The film extensively uses wide still shots, especially for dialogue, and minimizes cuts, a choice made by Bertukang to minimize expenses during editing. Sabtu Askar utilized many different film manipulation techniques, to include applying small amounts of vinegar and taking fine shavings of blank film stock onto the film to achieve the distorted and dissolving effects seen in the third act. The Dream sequences were shot using infrared film and an orange lense filter to achieve an Aerochrome look. These different film stocks were spliced together and then digitized, Jean Milang would edit the digitized version, where some minimal post-production was done, mostly minor color correction and additional dfx for the third act.
- Perang Kunci
Bertukang recruited a close friend Perang Kunci to record the soundtrack for the film in late 2020as principle shooting for the film started. Kunci had never worked in film before, he was the former singer for Hit Ripper, and later a solo artist who was instrumental in the early Buhita scene. He would hold off on making music for the film for some time, until Bertukang showed him an early screening of the film. Kunci would then go to Pukulan Tukul Studio to record the album with help of several session musicians. Particularly Tomi Desong and Jan de Kuijper, who Kunci has collaborated in the past on such albums as Het Geluid van Botten en Bestrating, and Paysage Urbain en Fa Mineur, as well as the Ikan Gamelan Ensemble to help produce the sound track.
Initial takes were recorded on a tape recorder and duplicated. The master copy was digitized. while subsequent copies were subject to differing degrees of tape manipulation, those were then played into a microphone, with each copy being recorded in different audio environments and then layered onto the master copy. Utilizing a Kyochoshi XM7D run through a DE-1 Super Feedbacker, Minata WW3, and then through a Borehamwood 6170, a copy of the altered master of the initial recording would be cut and sampled, then mixed back into the master.
Kunci recalls "The process was a very interesting process where we really tested the limits of experimentation.", Tomi Desong also said in an interview "The process was definitely interesting and fun, but probably took two months longer than it needed to be. For what we go, we could have probably cranked that out in like two weeks." The musical score would then be edited in post-production, with many tracks being crafted to match specific scenes in the film.
Release and Reception
Perabangan was released to received generally positive reviews, with particular praise for the cast, tone, score and cinematography. as well as its use of lighting, film manipulation, and practical effects. David Barnaby gave the film an 71/100 rating, Praising the tone and action sequences, noting how the score interlaced with the action on screen in a dynamic and frenetic manner. But criticized the story, feeling the plot twist was not only never foreshadowed properly, but that the nonchalant reveal undercut its dramatic weight. Staci Meszgyeri of Enveloper praised the soundtrack as an example of "electroacoustic dance folk" that brought together unorthodox techniques and spacious musical arrangements to bring the techno-futuristic world of the movie to life. Jin'ichi Uchibayashi, writing for Revue Culturelle de Coïe du sud-est praised the cinematography and tone, "it's very rare you see something like this come out of a relatively small market, known more for sappy melodramatic romcoms and sugary sweet family comedies. This is the motions in an artistic earthquake, young and provocative film makers who prioritize style over everything else. The way Bertukang used the camera to anchor the audience into the scene is extremely rewarding, there's a sense of voyeurism involved." Wanderley Benafaçom wrote "I didn't really like the film, a lacking narrative, pretty filmmaking, and probably the blandest characters you'll see on screen this year.", his critical review focused on narrative flaws he felt hampered the film, as well as a perception that the characters are very flat, and exists only to push the plot forward without any freewill. He did however praise the combat choreography, "The Film comes off as a very true to life experience. The combat in the movie is the only time we see the camera move from its very rigid and linear motions into something resembling the laziest shaky cam you will see (in a good way), The film breaks away from the Wuxia and Wire fu influenced cautionary tales of moral fortitude so prevalent in Surubonese cinema, Bertukang brings a gritty realness to the action, Men fall flat, every punch a potential coup de grâce. all the while buried under pitch blacks and saturated neons."
The majority of negative criticim was aimed at the films story and character writing, In his review for Rivocinema, Pietro Ranieri was heavily critical of the film, "if you take the movie as a sum of its parts, then i think you come up with something that it very lacking.", later clearifying "It wears its influence on its sleeve. It is indebted to older, schloky action cinema of the 80's and 90's, this is clear in its flamboyant and thematically transparent antagonist. It is also notable in its dipiction of women. The film attempts to give Margeaux agency in the story, but it practice its only a simulacrum of agency, and still places her as an object to be saved as opposed to an independent character, only really gaining any independent action in the film upon the death of the poorly writen protagonist, who himself is no more that a blank slate for other to project upon. He does nothing, and only reacts." Stefan Meyersohn writing for Kameraführung took a more technical approach, criticisng the film on technical details relating to the choice of seperate film stocks being used for different scenes and cinematographic choices. "The movie losses a lot of its cohesion based on the fact that some scenes are shot of different stocks. The exterior shots are filmed in a way that lesseens inharent issues with intense film grain, while dark interior shots have a lot of grain, the way the stocks are shot also means that colors, otherwise vibrent in some night scenes are almost washed out when shot in day scenes. The fact the film stock used strips the Anti-halation backing means we get color bleed and sometimes light sorces that overpower the scene and drown out important visual information because of the halation. This become an issue because of the way the film is shot, with long, focused still shots were the effect is more noticable."