Private Project

Once Upon a Time in Indonesia

The future crashes into the past when a group of friends cross a local loan shark. Haunted by the deeds of his father, Max wants to be more than the son of a criminal and escape the crime infested neighborhood he lives in. Max’s best friend Leo is always in and out of trouble and has a history of crossing the line in hopes of making it big someday. In a neighborhood where everyone knows everyone, and everyone has a committed a crime or two, the past is hard to escape.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN INDONESIA is the story of money – the way it flows around between good and evil people, the way it affects them and an examination of what people are willing to do to get it, and the consequences of their choices. What are you willing to do to make it in the world? Does a bad deed make a person bad? And how do you protect the people you love?

Good or bad, right or wrong, honest or criminal, the money flows throughout the neighborhood. It touches them all, can corrupt an honest soul, and everyone has to choose to look the other way or to stand up and do what’s right.

Every choice has a consequence, and the past is about to come crashing back with a vengeance.

  • Asun Mawardi
    #66, Pirate Brothers a.k.a Mortal Enemies, Untukmu
  • Matthew Ryan Fischer
    #66, Pirate Brothers a.k.a Mortal Enemies
  • Asun Mawardi
    #66, Pirate Brothers a.k.a Mortal Enemies
  • Asun Mawardi
    #66, Pirate Brothers a.k.a Mortal Enemies, Untukmu, The Black Magic
  • Gina Maria
  • Franki Darmawan
    Key Cast
  • Djaitov Tigor
    Key Cast
  • Ryana Dea
    Key Cast
  • Maria Theresia
    Key Cast
  • J Ryan Karsten
    Key Cast
  • Rendy Septino
    Key Cast
  • Ricardo Silenzie
    Key Cast
  • Sancha Wirawan
    Key Cast
  • Joshua D Pandelaki
    Key Cast
  • Erwin ST Bagindo
    Key Cast
    "Ruel's Father"
  • Yenny Wiriawaty
    Executive Producer
  • Daniel Thamrin
    Music Composer
  • Saniya Dewi
  • Ryan AT
    Assistant Director
  • Iwan Kustiawan
    Director of Photography
  • Ryan Adrian Tedja
    Action Director
  • Sintia
    Costume Designer
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Action, Crime
  • Runtime:
    2 hours 39 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    April 1, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    1,500,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
    1.85 (USA)
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Asun Mawardi

Having obtained his PhD in Business Administration, movie buff Asun Mawardi then decided to pursue his second love; enrolling himself at the prestigious New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. This would soon lead to him becoming the founder of the international production company, Creative Motion Pictures; combining the best of Hollywood and Asian approaches and resources, in producing the highest quality English and Asian language films.
Inspired by the experience from his first feature, “The Black Magic”, Asun Mawardi has gone on to produce and direct award-winning projects. These include “I Do I Do”, “Untukmu”, “Rindu Kami PadaMu”, the “Tsunami” documentary, “Pirate Brothers” (aka Mortal Enemies in the US), “#66”, and the latest one is “Once Upon a Time in Indonesia”.
In 2017, Asun Mawardi is the only person certified to teach the Ivana Chubbuck Technique in China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore. Students of this technique have won Academy Awards, Emmys, Golden Globes, Tonys and various other movie, television and theater awards. These students include Brad Pitt, Halle Berry, Charlize Theron, Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Sylvester Stallone, James Franco, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jared Leto, Beyonce Knowles and many more.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Martial arts are a lifelong passion of mine. Growing up in Indonesia, I consumed almost every form of martial arts media I could get my hands on. However, as my experience grew as a filmmaker, I began to notice a trend in most martial arts action films. These films would have amazing action sequences and set pieces, but the experience felt more like a show reel rather than a unified story. In short, the action drove the story and that didn’t sit right with me. It is my belief that the story should drive the action, and that the action should serve as a component of something larger – something that is suitably kinetic and exciting, but enhances the story rather than detract from it. This belief led me to develop my own style of action storytelling – I would build my stories from the ground up with an emphasis on characters and emotion, and make sure that action scenes were spawned from character conflicts and emotional battles, and not just as an empty excuse to include more fight scenes.

The character struggles and emotional conflicts were front and center when it came to creating Once Upon a Time in Indonesia. It was my intention to tell an empathetic human story, one of love and loss and the struggle for a better future, where several characters are on divergent paths with no choice but to eventually collide. The action would be grand, but the need to fight would be grounded, created from their opposing emotional desires. Once Upon a Time in Indonesia tells the story of money – the film looks at the way money travels between good and evil people, touching them all, and forcing them to make tough choices. What are they willing to do to get it? And once they make their choice, what consequences come from their deeds? People can be good or bad – both paths are open to everyone. Should they be judged for one bad deed? Can they still make a life for themselves? What are they willing to do in order to make it in a neighborhood of questionable morals and standards? And how far will they go to protect the people they love?

There are good and bad characters in Once Upon a Time in Indonesia and a little of everything in between. Sometimes the right choice has the wrong consequences, and sometimes good people have to fight to survive, whether they want to or not.

With Once Upon a Time in Indonesia, I feel like I’ve crafted a film that blends drama with action, and action with drama. The action serves the story, but also is a story in itself. I film each action scene with the expressed purpose of engaging the audience mentally and emotionally, and to make them become direct participants in the sequence. Musical arrangements were composed to match the tempo, and the emotional weight of the sequences, and quick cuts were used to amplify the impact of the events onscreen.

The best action films create additional beats, moments away from the action, to allow the audience to breathe and reflect and become invested in the characters on a visceral level. These moments are the calm that makes the storm that much more explosive. With Once Upon a Time in Indonesia, I would like nothing more than for the audience to follow the main character “Max” on his cathartic and bloody journey towards redemption, and leave feeling maybe just a bit inspired to kick some ass.