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Raden Wijaya
04.18.2014 769113610696

The Raid 2 fucking owns.  I know it got its balls knocked around at the box office in its opening weekend and did about as well in the multiplex as a documentary detailing the many amazing ways a person can make toast, but the fact that this fucking crime action gem was beat out by some evil live-action Disney propaganda film about how Grizzly Bears aren’t actually gigantic meat-filled killing machines from hell is more of a sad, damning indication of the increasing wussification of the world than it is an indictment of a ball-crushing, leg-snapping action flick that instantly became my third favorite movie of the last five years, behind only The Raid 1 and that Expendables movie where Van Damme kills one of the Hemsworth brothers by roundhouse kicking a Bowie knife into his sternum.

To that end, here’s a clip from the film where a shady-looking Indonesian dude in a hoodie takes a baseball bat and fucking destroys a half-dozen guys with the same over-the-top unstoppable brutality I used to eviscerate the English language in that last paragraph when I somehow managed to use the phrases Disney, Van Damme, Grizzly bear, and ball-crushing in the same sentence.  While this shit is actually pretty fucking tame for this film, the way it goes down is such a beautiful thing that it makes it difficult for me to decide whether I want to start an epic slow clap or just pop a Louisville Slugger-like perma-boner so intense it would require me to spend the rest of my life with a concealed weapons permit taped to my junk like I’m wearing a wire for the FBI.



Oh right, and this baseball bat dude is just some minor asshole in the film.  When shit goes down our hero fights this guy and another person at the same time, and that’s not even the best fight in the movie.  The Raid 2 also has one of the best car chases I’ve ever seen.  Which is saying something.

Anyways, I’ve made my feelings on the first movie publicly known (and my feelings are that it is the single greatest action movie ever made), but even before my adrenaline levels reached something even remotely resembling the nominal range I got thinking about Indonesia, which, sorry Indonesians, isn’t a place I knew a damn thing about.  They have a cool-sounding language, though, and they apparently excel and dismembering each other with hammers and epically rage-grinding broken beer bottles into one another’s faces with a ruthless cold-blooded enthusiasm you typically don’t see outside a DMV office or the back of the line on Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day, so there has to be something to it.  To that end, this week I decided to dig up a great head-cleaving warrior hero from Indonesian history and give his story the blood-soaked boner-joke treatment it so righteously deserved.

What I found was an epic tale about a mighty Javanese machete-swinging war-prince who banged four different princesses, cleaved his way through an endless horde of enemies on a single-minded quest to seize ultimate power for himself, and pulled off what has to be the ballsiest diplomatic maneuver that was ever attempted in the 13th century:

He is the only person I’ve ever heard of who actually double-crossed the fucking Mongol Horde. 

And he got away with it.


Meet Raden Wijaya, seen here contemplating the severed heads of
his enemies while the Mongol Fleet burns and sinks behind him.


Ok, the first thing you need to understand about Indonesia is that it’s made up of a bunch of small islands in Southeast Asia.  Back in the 1290s, the biggest kingdom in the region was ruled by a guy named Kertanegara, an iron-fisted old-school “kill ‘em all” ruler who had dedicated twenty years of his rule towards carving out an empire on the severed necks of his enemies.  Kertanegara united most of the island of East Java, sailed over to Sumatra and led a successful campaign against his enemies there, and had even attacked the island of Bali, wiped out their army, and brought their King back to Java in chains so he could show him off to his friends like he was a first-place trophy from that youth basketball league you rode the pine for in 1992.  This dude forged himself a nice little kingdom, and was feeling so great about his ultra-totalitarian dominance over his domains that when Mongol emissaries came by in 1292 demanding Kertanegara’s submission, the King of Java had their faces torched with branding irons, cut off their ears, and sent them running back to Kublai Khan, hopefully accompanied by some asinine joke about “not being able to hear your demands” or something.

Raden Wijaya was born to a family of noblemen, and was trained from birth in the fine art of executing perfect badass-looking flying knee strikes and cutting peoples’ heads in half with a goddamned machete.  A hardcore fighter, noble leader, and all-around studly beefcake, Raden Wijaya was apparently so baller that King Kertanegara promoted him to General of his military and gave him four of his daughters as wives. 


It’s good to be the Raden.


Well sleeping with a different princess every night, killing Sumatran warriors with your bare hands and an extra-sturdy fistful of dental floods, and coming back home with the King of Bali in a man-sized version of those airplane cat carriers was amazing and everything, but that kind of behavior doesn’t really make you a hell of a lot of friends.  Before long some punk-ass motherfucker named Jayakatwang got all jealous about not getting enough positive recognition for all the dumb shit he was doing, so he decided to raise and army and pry the crown from Kertanegara’s dome with some needle-nosed pliers and the Fire Department’s Jaws of Life.  Jeyakatwang (whose name looks like it would sound really pornographic/hilarious if pronounced aloud) organized a group of rebellious nobles in East Java, mobilized an army of rebels, and basically almost completely surrounded Kertanegara’s throne room overnight.

Raden Wijaya, the ever-loyal general, did what he could.  He took his forces north of the capital, ran screaming into combat at the head of a phalanx of Javanese spearmen, and plowed through rebel douchebags like Bruce Lee fucking up a gang of inept black-uniformed ninjas.  After littering the field of battle with the dismembered corpses of enemy douchebags, however, Raden Wijaya turned south just in time to receive word that the capital had fallen, King Kertanegara and all his ministers had been murdered in their palace, Jerk-a-wang had made himself king, and now basically every able-bodied warrior in East Java was looking too kill Raden Wijaya and collect the massive bounty on his head.


Badass-looking 19th-century Bali warriors.
Those are the eyes of a killer.


Hunted and attacked every step of the way, Raden Wijaya fled west across the island of Java. 

When he reached the coast, he saw a peculiar sight:

One thousand Chinese warships, anchored in the Java Sea, preparing to unload thirty thousand Mongols on a mission of conquest, revenge, and face-branding retribution. 


Hey assholes, what’s up?
I got this guy here with no ears who
wants to talk to you.


Weighing his options, Raden Wijaya once again showed the unimaginable scope of his mighty brass-clad testicles. 

He walked right up to the Mongol leader, announced himself as the True King of Java, and offered his loyalty and yearly tribute if the Mongols would help him depose the usurper who now sat on the throne. 

The Mongol Army mobilized for war.


Javanese warriors.


Now, the Mongols’ reputation for effortlessly grinding their heels into to teeth of every civilization on earth is in no way unwarranted, so I probably don’t need to tell you how this shit went down.  Raden Wijaya gave the Mongols all the maps and information they needed to move through the countryside (a move that actually helped his people, as he led the Mongols through countryside and kept them from looting the Javanese towns and villages), navigated them right into the heart of the jungles (where they subsequently caught a ridiculous number of ultra-deadly tropical diseases), and then walked them right up to the front door of King JerkWang’s capital.  The Mongols utterly destroyed Jayakatwang’s army in plain view of the palace, and then headed back to their ships to get wasted and celebrate adding another Kingdom to the Great Khan’s Empire. 

That night, once they were all good and drunk and unarmored, Raden Wijaya suddenly appeared at the entrance of the Mongol camp along with tens of thousands of hardcore Indonesian warriors just looking for a good back-alley street brawl.




The Indonesians charged the Mongol camp, defeated them in battle, mowed them down by the hundreds, drowned another thousand or so of them in a river, and forced the Mongols to flee back to their boats and escape, all while suffering minimal losses himself.  When the Mongol expedition commander returned to China to face Kublai Khan, he received 70 lashes with a whip and was stripped of all his worldly possessions.  It would be the last conquest attempted by Kublai Khan, who would drink himself to death a few months later and is now remembered less for his military conquests and more for the insane poem that English dude wrote while tripping balls on opium.

Raden Wijaya, meanwhile, was crowned King of the new Majapahit Kingdom on November 12, 1293.  After scouring the land of dissenters and crushing an uprising of angry nobles, Raden Wijaya set up the foundation for a mighty Indonesian Empire that would bring about a Golden Age in Indonesian history and would rule the lands of Java, Bali, and Sumatra for the next two hundred years, only finally falling when the Dutch East India Company showed up in 1528 with guns and started shooting everything. 


One of the more impressive Hindu
Temples built by the Majapahit Kingdom


King Raden Wijaya ruled for 16 years, eventually dying in 1309 of causes that I didn’t remember to write down when I was taking notes for this article.  His son would succeed him, but when that kid was murdered by his doctor during surgery (which has to easily be one of the worst ways a person can die) Raden Wijaya’s sister took over as Queen and acted as regent for a guy named Gajah Mada.  Gajah is notable mostly because he really fucking loved chili peppers or Sriracha or whatever but swore that he wouldn’t eat any more spicy food until he conquered Bali, which he did in 1343.

Over the next two hundred years, the Kingdom of the Majapahit would built temples, establish trade relations with kingdoms from Thailand to Vietnam, sign treaties with the Khmer, and usher in a golden age of Javanese culture.  To this day, Raden Wijaya is a national hero in Indonesia.




Kinney, Ann R.  Worshipping Siva and Buddha.  University of Hawaii Press, 2003.

Purwadi.  History of Java.  Jakarta: Tanah Air, 2007.

The World and Its Peoples.  New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2008.

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Tags: Battle Rage / Berserker | Head of State | Hindu | Indonesia | Medieval | Military Commander | Warrior

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