I love westerns and I especially love alternative takes on it – I am a huge fan of the Good, the Bad, the Weird, the Korean western set in Japanese-occupied Manchuria in the 1930s. Buffalo Boys is another alternative western, this time an Indonesian western with the colonizers as the villains of the piece.
There is a lot to love in this movie, especially the action scenes. For the most part, these are fun and very kinetic, with a few imaginative moves thrown in. The application of western tropes was excellent. There’s a delicious irony in the oppressed adopting the style of one type of colonizer while fighting against another.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of poorly developed scenes that aren’t really consistent with the story or characters, rather friction and emotions seem to occur when convenient for the plot. This really bothered me, as I was having a great time with the movie. These scenes would intrude, I would groan, then the movie would move on and I’d get back into it. The climax didn’t hit as hard as I think was intended, but I could forgive that.
The acting was fine for the most part, but not outstanding. The actors gave their characters enough depth to propel me along with the story. I can forgive a lot when I like or at least sympathize with the characters. The script didn’t give the actors much to work with, but they kept me involved and invested.
I would actually recommend Buffalo Boys even though you need to manage your expectations. It’s a fun move with an interesting overlap of anti-colonial narrative and western tropes. I give it 3.5 charging buffalos out of 5. See it for the action, but get ready for some bumps in the road.
Buffalo Boys is playing right now on Canadian Netflix (That would be April 2019).