Peter O’Brian, known apparently as P’OB to his friends, burst onto the scene in 1986 with The Stabilizer, a Rambo rip-off where he played a character called Peter Goldson, and The Intruder, a Rambo rip-off where he played a character called 'Rambu'. He only made six more movies, culminating in The Time Game in 1998.
Despite a limited portfolio, this New Zealand actor deserves, nay demands, a well-regarded place on the B-Movie roll of fame, thanks largely to these first two films, packed as they are with heaps of Zombie Club goodness. So let’s sit back and take in the New Zealand / Indonesian splendour that is Peter O’Brian in - The Stabilizer and The Intruder…
Tonight’s Zombie Club was brought to you by Rawshark and Tuk-Tuk Express, for all your stunt-filled, hero rescue tuk-tuk team needs.
The Intruder (1986)
Plot Rambu wants revenge on evil crime lord John White for killing his wife…
Rawshark Rambu watches as a car knocks over a woman. Two creeps with bats get out to torment her so Rambu intervenes and fights them with a special yellow ball (or is it an orange?) that returns to his hand like it’s a remote Batarang. The creeps try to escape in their car, but Rambu throws the ball (fruit?) at them and the car drives into a ditch and bursts into fire. Rambu says ”The name’s Rambu”. Cue opening title - The Intruder.
Make no mistake, this Indonesian action ‘epic’ is a more-often-than-not delight, for which a lot of the credit can surely going to the Sylvester Stallone-alike lead Peter O’Brian. With the plot being slight (Rambu gets mixed up with crime boss Mr White who kills Rambu’s daughter – Rambu swears revenge), The Intruder takes it’s Rambo homage seriously, resulting in a filmic exercise of great daredevil entertainment, stunts, and ass-kicking fighting as Rambu repeatedly makes mincemeat of his opponents (or at least, as Jim pointed out from his fighting style, ”there’s a bit of mince to his Karate”).
A hero is only as good as his adversary though, so thankfully we’re also treated to a great villain in Mr White (Craig Gavin) who storms around his domain shooting girls who have the tenacity to spit in his face and spouting lines of dialogue such as ”I only made half a million today” and ”I satisfy you sexually, both in and out of bed”. His monstrous outbursts get progressively worse from drug smuggling to prostitution rings and ultimately murdering those who think they’re close to him.
Momentum is kept at full tilt with a great mid-film tuk-tuk sequence, packed with fist-fighting, bikes and guns that makes it seem a lot more exciting than it would in real-life considering the top speed of a tuk-tuk and more muscle than you can shake a seashell at, When Mr White finally kills Rambu’s accomplice Clara (”that’s just going to make Rambu even angrier!” - Zomblee), it leads to a very quick pec-packed tool-up sequence (”Indonesian laws limit tool-up sequences to 10 seconds” - Zomblee), as Rambu sets off for Mr White’s mansion with his big bad gun...
Considering the budget of this film, it seems most of it has been placed on screen, with more than enough explosions, car crashes, tuk-tuk stunts and fight choreography to keep you happy. So what if the same stuntman is seen being killed 6-7 times throughout the film, or if the dialogue is often (poetically) corny, or the music’s pretty terrible? These guys set out in earnest to make a genuinely entertaining action film and you can see their passion on the end result. This is Fun with a capital F, and for that we have Peter O’Brian, Craig Gavin and director Jopi Burnama to thank.
“Just hold it right there Rambu, we’ve got you covered like a blanket”.
Jim So, let's start by analyzing the plot of this Indonesian action movie. This shouldn't take to long.
Basically there's this guy called Rambu, which is a shortened version of his real name, Alex Trambuan. So it's a bit like how a babies pram is short for 'Perambulator' only different - that's got 'Rambu' in it too. Anyway, the movie starts with him stopping a gang beat up an old lady while wearing a tasteful stripy shirt. He uses a small rubber ball that he keeps throwing at their heads, and occasionally snarls like Sly Stallone ("I don't think it's a coincidence." - Zomblee). They find out who he is, and tell their boss Mr White, who then likes to say ‘Rambu’ a lot and call him an intruder for intruding on their business. Mr White orders his goons to kill Rambu's girl (after raping her and beating her up), so Rambu goes mental and gets in to lots of fights with Mr White's men. Meanwhile Mr White demands constant updates, where he gets to say 'Rambu' a lot more with lines like “Rambu, Rambu, Rambu, I’m tired of hearing his name!" Are you really? ("I'm going to count the Rambu's..." - Rawshark)
Rambu is eventually captured and escapes with the help of Mr White's chick Clara. She says not to worry White would never hurt her, but he kills her in the next scene. Meanwhile Rambu gets employed by Mr Andre to tackle Mr White, Rambu has a big fight involving motorbikes and tuk-tuk's and Mr White says 'Rambu' and 'Intruder' a lot again. Then he finds out Andre works for White, realises he can trust no one and fights everyone for the rest of the movie, before riding off in a pick-up truck with a Starsky and Hutch paint job.
To be honest with you, Rambu is exactly what you expect it's going to be. Crazy ass Indonesian fight scenes that aren't half bad, lots of bad dubbed over dialogue from the gang boss chatting between fights and Peter O'Brian snarling like Sly. There's an interesting sequence when Mr White shoots a teenage girl for spurning his advances, just to show you how evil he is, and a funny skit where Rambu strips off and goes for a swim for no reason ("He's swimming off to war!" - Rawshark), but really it's just bad dialogue and cheesy fights, sometimes with optional rubber balls - it looks a bit like a little squash ball, probably of the yellow dot kind.
We like cheesy fights and bad dialogue though, and if you do too you can do a lot worse than Rambu, especially if you like vehicular fight scenes involving tuk-tuks. And let's face it, who doesn't?
"What about this Rambu you mentioned?"
Zomblee Indonesian action films starring Kiwi 'actioner' Peter O'Brian seem to have developed a big cult following in the years since release, and after watching the most well known of these - Rambu aka The Intruder, we can see why. It's fast-paced, furious fun from start to finish, and is as utterly shameless as any exploitation cinema should ever be. Peter O'Brian, welcome to Zombie Club.
In Rambu, he plays Alex Tarambuan but if you chop a couple of letters off each side of that surname you'll get Rambu. And by God, that's what everyone likes to call him, and he almost takes the crown worn by blond nipper 'Bob' from The House by the Cemetery in the how many times can a character's name be said in one film stakes. So, Rambu pisses of the local thugs by 'intruding' on their bullying and hence makes an enemy out of big crime boss man, Mr White. White is his name, his suit is white, and he likes putting lots of white powder up his nose. He’s Mr White. He hates Rambu, but really likes saying his name, usually followed by ”the intruder”. Meanwhile, a rival crime boss, Mr Andre, tries to exploit Rambu for his own needs, and soon it all goes tits up and both nasty men want a piece of Rambu’s ass.
”I feel like I’m in bad movie heaven”, noted Jim at one point. And this really is bad movie heaven, folks. The entertainment value is off the scale with furiously fast fighting all the way (”I really like the fighting in this movie!” - Rawshark), which even includes a crazy-ass tuk-tuk vs. motorbike battle.
Peter O’Brian is in it too of course, like a skinny Stallone, which he likes to demonstrate by not only flexing muscle but also flexing his upper lip snarl, so that he actually physically resembles Stallone. Quite how he ended up in so-bad-they’re-good Indonesian action movies I don’t know, but I intend to find out. Great fun.
”Slap him! Slap him harder! Harder! Again! Go on, harder!”
Director Jopi Burnama
Cast Peter O'Brian
Runtime 88 mins
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The Stabilizer (1986)
Plot Peter Goldson wants revenge on drug smuggler Greg Rainmaker for killing his fiancee with a spiked shoe…
Zomblee Reinforcing the notion that if you wear a white suit in or around Jakarta, you must be a bad movie villain, is the second of tonight’s Peter O’Brian movies, The Stablizer. This one sees O’Brian looking increasingly like O’Brian May from Queen, with all his curly locks taking up a substantial portion of the frame, but that’s ok, we were able to see enough to know it was something to do with a certain Mr Rainmaker (Mr White from Rambu no less) kidnapping a certain Professor Provost. This has got something to do with a ‘narcotic detector’ that the Prof is working on, but that’s not important right now.
What is important, is those shoes that Mr Rainmaker wears. Remember those spiky shoes used by Rosa Klebb in From Russia with Love? Well imagine something much more nasty, but less effective and completely impractical. Imagine multiple spikes based on the actual sole of the shoes, so that our lead villain has to walk very carefully and slowly, lest he takes a humiliating tumble. However, they are great if you want to smash someone’s face apart, which he ably demonstrates at one point. This is why we love movies like this. Those shoes are like a gift from God (”They’re torture shoes!” - Jim).
The fight sequence around the 42-minute mark is something truly special that keeps on giving. Professor Provost’s daughter Christina gets stuck into the action too, with her trusty crossbow, and although she’s not very hot, I could tell Jim approved (”She’s quite handy in a fat, orange kind of way.” She was wearing a big orange dress by the way, that wasn’t some kind of racial slur.
I must admit, I was starting to feel the strain towards the end of The Stabilizer, but there was more goodness to come, and some of it quite unpleasant, including a really bizarre and disgusting gobbing scene (”Eurgh...it’s all dribbly and everything!” - Rawshark). And you’ll be pleased to know it conforms with unimaginative cliché by setting the final action in a warehouse which catches fire, giving O’Brian et al a good excuse to use some of those empty barrels as a rather resourceful means of escape.
“I invented that Narcotics Detector in order to destroy people like you”.
Jim But Zomblee, there's more to the ending than that. Don't you remember Rainmaker making off in a yellow helicopter, and O'Brien does a jump with that motorbike, lands on the helicopter, grabs a gun, falls out and consequently fatally shoots the helicopter on the way down to the water? He's pretty good, this Stabilizer, eh?
In fact, he does a few motorbike jumps in this movie. Earlier, he jumps of a balcony with his bike and lands on someone's head, which is great. He also has lots of fights, and makes out with a couple of chicks, and drives a Land Rover at one point, and then has more fights. Oh, and there's an underwater sequence too, which they cover with orange smoke.
Yes, orange, there's more orange in the movie too. "Crossbow Christina" turns up half way through the movie and makes herself very useful. She also wears orange, and is the daughter of Professor Provost, the guy who Rainmaker (Mr White from the last movie) has kidnapped because he's created this narcotics detector thing, which will turn the Golden Triangle gang in to the most powerful on the planet.
If you don't believe me watch the trailer on this page, which really is a kind of 'Stabilizer in 3 minutes' summary of the film. It's got the crossbow, the orange dress, the helicopter, lots of fights and Peter O'Brian's hair, which as you've read Zomblee really liked - "His hair's getting bigger in every scene.". You get to see bits of lots of fights, and The Stabilizer does have lots of fights. And car chases, The Stabilizer has it's fair share of car chases, invariably involving O'Brian on a motorbike, and lots of crashing ("Into the fruit!" - Rawshark).
In fact, the only thing you don't get to see in the trailer is Mr Rainmaker's special spiky torture shoes. We are huge fans of unconventional comedy weaponry here at Zombie Club, and grossly impractical spiky shoes just take the biscuit. I'm pretty sure that guy that looked like BA Baracus’ main job was just to keep him on his feet while Rainmaker made it between torture scenes. Not very practical as Zomblee pointed out, still very cool.
So, lots of fun action, thin on plot, dodgy acting and nobody is particularly attractive, especially Crossbow girl who is particularly dodgy. Not that I'm sure Mr O'Brian minded.
“If only you weren’t so good in bed, I’d kill you right now.”
Rawshark Yes, it’s another Parkit Film, with the same two adversaries from the The Intruder; Peter O’Brian this time playing Special Agent Peter Goldson (”who plays for keeps”) and Craig Gavin as the dastardly Greg Rainmaker. Complete with a terribly 80s opening theme song a la James Bond, The Stabilizer is pure Rambo meets Commando meets Lethal Weapon (check out the mullet!), Set in Indonesia. On a micro-budget.
Peter Goldson, accompanied by his girlfriend (Sylvia Nash) is chasing Mr Rainmaker who has kidnapped Professor Provost because he wants to get his hands on the ‘Narcotics Detector’. However, Mr Rainmaker, who, like Mr White in The Intruder, likes to wear white (”you’ve got to wear white in Indonesia to be respected as a high-class thug” - Zomblee) has got several henchmen under his command, most memorable being an Indonesian BA Baracus who made his first appearance at 15.11 (to much enjoyment to us watching I might add) and a nifty pair of ”torture shoes” (Jim).
With lead hero and villain established, this all means that we have a good solid hour of time to fill with obstacles before we head towards our face-off finale, and thankfully on this front The Stabilizer delivers in spades. There’s a great strimmer death early on, a masked crossbow-wielding woman, and even rubber-coated pliers with which to cut open underwater electric barbed wire fencing during the submarine siege. There’s an abundance of crashing cars and a quite frankly jaw-dropping fight sequence in a warehouse at the midway point which goes on for ages and involves motorcycles, balconies, barrel-rolling and secret passageways.
The occasional dash of Indonesian idiosyncrasies (there’s one shot of what seems to be a man biting into a real live lizard and an intense theatre scene where people are seen cutting themselves) may jar, but overall The Stabilizer is good clean (violent) fun throughout, and we definitely cheered on many an occasion, not least at the cheap (but quite good) jeep and dummy crash and the final helicopter showdown. Peter O’Brian, you’re entitled to take your top off and hug your not-very-good-looking girl and mates – we salute you.
”I may now die Victor – but you’re coming with me to the seventh hell”.
Cast Peter O'Brian
Runtime 87 mins
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Ok, so no one’s going to argue that The Intruder and The Stabilizer are great works of cinematic art, but they sure are fun. A whole lot of fun. A recent interview with Peter O’Brian reveals he was randomly spotted on the streets of Jakarta for his casting as Rambu, whilst just ‘passing through’, and that he insisted the producers should cast his friend Craig Gavin as the gangster before accepting the role. Legend. He currently still works in Indonesia teaching English.