The Night Comes For Us (2018)
Underneath all the carnage, this is actually about something. It’s about Ito (Joe Taslim) trying to save himself — by saving the little girl Reina (Asha Kenyeri Bermudez). It’s about two friends who dreamt of “making it big” by joining the Triad — big brother Ito warning the younger Arian (Iko Uwais) not to make same mistakes he did. “Don’t join the Triad. Been there and it wasn’t all that great. There are chicks, booze, and stuff all around but ain’t got time for that, because all we do is traffic drugs and kill [mostly] innocent people.” Okay, he didn’t really say that. It seems that way anyway. Ito probably couldn’t even enjoy a good lay anymore, or have a guilt-free sleep at night. See, it’s not easy being one of the bad guys, with all this “guilt and conscience” stuff eating you inside. So when Ito saw a glimpse of redemption in Reina, he took a 180 degrees turn (also, literally) — killed his men, took the girl, went into hiding. And what follows is a zombie apocalypse — minus the zombies — a series of action setpieces, meticulously crafted as they are horrifyingly graphic, with all sorts of bad people trying to get their hands on Reina, Ito, and his friends. Most of the fights are pretty bonkers, with blood and violence, dialed to eleven. The two-against-one brawl between Julie, Alma and Elena is definitely one for the books. And for the movie’s final fight, well, I’d probably never look at a box cutter the same way ever again.
Honor Thy Father (2015)
Kaye and Edgar get caught in financial ruin after being involved in an investment scam. The promise of get-rich-quick suddenly becomes a living nightmare, when Kaye’s father turns up dead, the money, all gone. And their friends, co-parishioners at the Church of Yeshua, quickly turns on them, demanding their money back. But they are just small fry compared to some influential people, demanding a much bigger sum from the couple, in exchange for their daughter’s safety, and eventually, their lives. As a devoted member of the church, Kaye pleads for help. “Yeshua will provide,” said the Bishop. But he can’t help them, the money isn’t his, it’s the church’s. This leaves Edgar with only few options. Even so, he still sees to it that he goes with the lesser evil, until he’s cornered with no other option but the worst. Honor Thy Father is not something good to watch when you’re worrying about something or after stressful day at work. The movie makes little difference between scam investments and toxic religious groups. It gets a little too real sometimes, too close to home (i.e., financial troubles, sans the death threats of course). It is that good. An assuredly paced thriller that’s able to sustain its edge-of-your-seat atmosphere for long. A bleak crime drama with a little bit of The Bank Job, minus Princess Margaret’s naked pictures in a vault. It’s thrilling and despairing at the same time. And that ending, man, that ending. Really powerful stuff.
The Yellow Sea (2010)
Taxi driver Gu-nam is in serious debt. And he’s yet to hear from his wife, who left months ago to work in South Korea. Worse, he’s having nightmares of her being with another man. When local gangster Myun Jung-hak offers him a job to be able to settle his debt, he takes his chances. The job, go to South Korea and carry out a hit; his target, a professor named Kim Seung-hyun, later revealed to be gangster. When the hit doesn’t go as planned (turns out there’s more than one party who wanted Kim dead) Gu-nam finds himself running away from the cops, the gangsters, and eventually, from Myun, who travels to Korea to tie up the loose ends. Triple-crossed by Myun, and with no chance to return to Yanji, Gu-nam makes it his goal to find out who actually hired him (Myun was a middleman). The Yellow Sea works best when it’s a tight crime thriller, particularly in the first and second act. When it switches to gangster mode, it gets a little overbearing, especially when they bring out their axes/knives for the nth time. Whether or not it’s saying ‘this is how gun control looks like,’ this movie features, almost exclusively, knives, and the stabbiest of fights. Beneath the nihilistic bloodshed, it doesn’t seem to say much. And if there’s anything Gu-nam learns in the end, it’s probably that some men will go at great lengths, when they learn they’re being cheated on by their wives.