Indonesia has become one of the new main epicenters of martial arts films in the 21st century. Not only has that brought Silat to new mainstream recognition around the world, but it’s also the rise of a whole new generation of action stars. One whose name precedes him is, of course, the great Yayan Ruhian aka “Mad Dog”!
Formerly a Silat teacher, Yayan first gained recognition in Gareth Evans’ 2009 movie “Merantau”, which also marked the debut of Iko Uwais. However, it was the trio’s follow-up, 2012’s “The Raid: Redemption”, that truly launched all three to worldwide acclaim. Not only was “The Raid” heralded as one of the best action movies ever made, Yayan’s role as the villainous ‘Mad Dog’ made him a truly standout antagonist. Without Yayan as Mad Dog, “The Raid” simply wouldn’t have been the same.
Yayan has since gone on to appear in many other action movies, including “The Raid 2”, “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum”, and the newest installments of the “Skyline” series. Every time, he’s brought his atomic Silat skills and formidable screen presence along, amazing audiences as unforgettable villains, and the occasional good guy, too. That, of course, can only mean it’s time for another countdown, KFK followers! So buckle up and start monitoring your pulse action fans because it’s time for “Mad Dog” Yayan Ruhian’s Top 10 Movie Fights! (in descending order)
10. Shinobi Attack – John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
There are sequels that raise the bar, and then there’s the “John Wick” series where each chapter consistently outdoes the last.
“John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” took the franchise into the stratosphere, and the Shinobi assassins led by Zero (Mark Dacascos) are a huge part of why.
Two of Zero’s Shinobi students also happen to be Yayan and his co-star from “The Raid 2”, Cecep Arif Rahman. That collection of names alone let audiences know that “Parabellum” meant business way before it hit theaters, and their first major action scene in tandem comes when Zero leads a (pardon the pun) raid on the compound of The Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne).
Yayan and Cecep really break out their kerambit skills alongside the Ninjutsu weaponry of Mark and the other Shinobi, and while it’s relatively brief, it’s still a slashingly amazing fight – setting the table for Yayan and Cecep a little later in the movie.
9. Huana vs. The Pilots – Skylines
The alien pilots thought they could keep ‘The Chief’ in “Beyond Skyline” down, but he’s back with an upgraded set of limbs in “Skylines”.
As the human mission to Cobalt-1 to put a stop to the virus that’s headed to Earth unfolds, a group of humans back on Earth do their best to hold the pilots turning on humans at bay.
This is where the Chief, now known by his name of Huana, steps in to steal the show with new, alien-clawing formidability. Having both arms and one leg torn off in the temple showdown in “Beyond Skyline” seemed to portend the end for Huana, but Liam O’Donnell knew that without an explicit on-screen death, all’s fair in love and war.
Though Yayan’s role in “Skylines” is much more minor than “Beyond Skyline”, it’s still a jaw-dropping twist to see him back in action, wielding pilot limbs against the pilots themselves. Hopefully, he’ll be back at it again in “Skyline 4”!
8. The Machete-free Fight – The Raid 2
What, you thought Mad Dog’s bloody demise was gonna stop Yayan from returning in “The Raid 2”? Nope!
Yayan’s screen presence was such that the movie didn’t even need to rely on any kind of twin brother gimmick, instead simply aging him up about twenty years or so and having him tackle the new role of ‘Prakoso’. An assassin for Bangun’s crime family, Prakoso’s weapon of choice is the ever-reliable machete, but he also wields it with a true warrior code.
With a collection of opponents standing in between him and his target, Prakoso puts down one after another without ever inflicting lethal force or striking any of them with his weapon. We find out so much about Prakoso in these couple of minutes – his precision in a fight, his ability to eliminate any threat in seconds, and his strict code of honor that only the intended target of his latest hit is the one who will be slain.
Fans of “The Raid” around the world were elated by the news that Yayan would be returning as a different character in “The Raid 2”, and neither the movie nor Yayan wasted a moment in letting audiences know that it was the right move to make.
7. Mad Dog vs. Jaka – The Raid
2012’s “The Raid: Redemption” has frequently been likened to a survival horror movie, essentially a zombie flick without the zombies in which the movie’s in-over-their-heads protagonists must fight for their very lives.
Mad Dog’s monstrously vicious battle with Joe Taslim’s Jaka completely distills the essence of the horror movie at the core “The Raid”, with a feeling of suspense right out of a slasher film as Mad Dog backs Jaka into a vacant apartment with a gun pointed at him.
After giving a brief monologue about how guns don’t offer the same kind of thrill as hand-to-hand action does, Mad Dog snaps into action with the kind of suddenness that comes with a jump scare.
The major height difference between the two does absolutely nothing to undercut Mad Dog’s terrifying ferocity. Try as he might, Jaka simply cannot get Mad Dog under control, and the absence of bladed weaponry notwithstanding, their battle concludes in a manner that could be right out of “Halloween” or “Friday the 13th”.
Joe Taslim clearly made his own mark with “The Raid”, going on to kick butt in “Fast and Furious 6” and “The Night Comes For Us” and the “Mortal Kombat” reboot. However, Mad Dog’s fight with Jaka solidified Yayan Ruhian’s unparalleled ability to be the tiniest and most intimidating villain simultaneously.
6. Final Duel – Wira
Yayan’s back in “Wira” doing what he does best – being the tiniest character in the movie and still being a villain whom no one can overcome alone.
When Hassan (Hairul Azreen) and his sister Zain (Fify Azmi) find themselves in trouble with the local mob after an MMA fight, they join forces to take down their enemies once and for all. It just happens that one of them is the formidable Ifrit, played by Yayan Ruhian.
Though “Wira” is a Malaysian movie, its final act comes right out of 1980s Hong Kong heyday, with all the movie’s potential energy unleashed in one final showdown. Just like in “The Raid”, Yayan completely steals the finale as a villain who seemingly cannot be stopped.
The final fight of “Wira” also sweetens the deal, as by bringing machetes and knives into play, Hassan and Fify just barely manage to stand their ground against Ifrit.
“Wira” can be seen on Netflix in all its action-packed glory, and its final rumble belongs amongst Yayan’s personal best (with quite the finishing move punctuation to boot)!
5. Elevator Fight – Merantau
Before “The Raid”, Yayan made his film debut in 2009’s “Merantau”, but unlike the bloodthirsty killer Mad Dog, his portrayal of Eric was that of a more conflicted and sympathetic victim of circumstance.
Despite the efforts of Yuda (played by Iko Uwais), to try to convince him he has the option to choose a different path, Eric feels cornered in the service of Ratgar and Luc, played by Mads Koudal and Lohan Buson.
In the end, for a man who feels he has no way out, his clash in the elevator with Yuda is inevitable, making their earlier friendly encounter on the bus to Jakarta all the more tragic.
With “Merantau” having been, for many people, their first real cinematic exposure to Silat, Iko and Yayan were the best exponents of their art that audiences could’ve ever asked for, with their head-to-head duel being a star-making battle unfolding right before our very eyes.
At the same time, the fact that Eric is a sympathetic character makes the elevator fight in “Merantau” a true exercise in contradictions – we thrill as two masters of Silat throw everything they’ve got at each other, while hoping against hope for something to put an end to their battle and lead them to join forces.
Unfortunately, the ship has already sailed for Eric to do that, and his story proves among the most tragic within “Merantau”.
Ultimately, Yayan makes us cheer for AND against Eric at the same time, and both as we thrill to what an astounding Silat exponent he really is. Not bad for Yayan’s first time in front of the camera!
4. Temple Showdown – Beyond Skyline
We’ve seen many great extraterrestrial movies over the years, from “Independence Day” on the macro to “Predator” on the micro. But how many have a climactic battle of blades and kicks for the fate of the world in an ancient Southeast Asian temple?
“Beyond Skyline” truly stands alone in that regard, with a ragtag band of human survivors holding their own against the alien ground troops while their towering battle suits wage war above them.
Yayan’s a little more on the periphery in “Beyond Skyline” as a Loatian police chief, but it’s nevertheless all hands on deck for the final battle against the nine-foot tall invaders.
As has often been the case for many of Yayan’s less-villainous roles, his character may have to meet his end, but he’s still not going to go unless he goes out fighting.
When it comes to alien movie fights, the final showdown of “Beyond Skyline” knows no equal – which is exactly why it holds a place of honor on KFK’s countdown of the Top 10 Alien Movie Fights. Check it out to see who else made the cut!
3. Nightclub Fight – The Raid 2
Aside from being one of the most formidable fighters in “The Raid 2”, Prakoso is also its most tragic figure.
Manipulated into being the fall guy for Uco’s plan to start a gang war in the heart of Jakarta, Prakoso finds himself fighting for his life in a suddenly vacant nightclub against dozens of enemies who appear out of nowhere.
As tends to be the case with Yayan, he’s the tiniest guy in the room, and yet he’s a total master of redirecting our fear and pity towards those opposing him with his mastery of Silat.
This time, however, the movie makes it more and more clear that Prakoso is fighting a losing battle the more winded he gets with each enemy he demolishes.
All of it comes to a head when Cecep Arif Rahman’s nameless Assassin arrives to finish the job, and even as Prakoso has finally put together that he’s been betrayed by Uco, he’s not going down without a fight.
If “The Raid” made us thrill to Yayan’s action scenes as we knew that Mad Dog was pure evil, “The Raid 2” made us sympathize with a hitman trading on the only marketable skill he felt he had and going out like a warrior (not all that far off from Yayan’s earlier role in “Merantau”).
As an added bonus, the visual recalls to some memorable money shots from “The Raid” and “Ip Man” certainly don’t hurt either!
2. Shinobi Assassins vs. John Wick – John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
Each sequel exceeding its predecessor is the name of the game for the “John Wick” franchise, and boy, does “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” pull that off in spades.
With John excommunicated from the Continental and on the run from every assassin in the world, he and Winston (Ian McShane) make their last stand in the Continental, with John forced to fight one wave after another of the Shinobi associates of Zero.
Two of them are none other than Yayan Ruhian and Cecep Arif Rahman, who break out their kerambit blades and give John one serious challenge of a fight.
Though they’ve been tasked with taking out John, they can’t help but pause right when they have an opening to victory to share their admiration of John Wick directly to his face.
“Parabellum” is a 2-hour masterpiece of action of every sort, and its fight scenes are the best yet of the series. Bringing Yayan and Cecep on-board was a true casting coup that facilitated one of the most memorable fight scenes of the whole series.
Cherry on top – Yayan and Cecep are both still alive by the end, so there’s no ruling them out for a return in “John Wick” 4 or 5!
…And in at number 1 is….
Mad Dog Showdown – The Raid
Well, this should surprise no one, should it? ‘Mad Dog’, one of the all-time great villains of action movies, holds his own against both Rama and Andi in the climactic smackdown of “The Raid”, and it is a true marvel of a duel to the death, along with the perfect pay-off that the movie’s survival story demands.
Mad Dog is as much of a show-stealing antagonist as Boyka was in “Undisputed 2”, but the former has no comparable chance or even desire at the redemption referenced in the title. He’s simply an unrelenting killing machine whose name tells you all you need to know about him before his fists even start flying.
The pace of the finale of “The Raid” is simply relentless, and as director Gareth Evans has revealed, draws from the final fight of “Dragon Lord” as a two-on-one showdown in which the villain is all but completely insurmountable.
What other way to describe an enemy who can literally be stabbed in the neck with a fluorescent light bulb and only have his domination of the fight only moderately lessened?
Without a doubt, “The Raid” completely changed the game for martial arts action, and Yayan Ruhian’s portrayal of Mad Dog is a major factor in how it was able to accomplish that.
The final smackdown of two estranged brothers against a ‘Mad Dog’ is the finale that made “The Raid” so unforgettable, and earns the honorable title of Yayan Ruhian’s best big-screen battle!