Arisaka (2021)

Arisaka is a survival action thriller that has a few prerequisites for it to be worthwhile: You must be able to ignore glaring plot contrivances, the blatant use of incompetent henchmen trope, and the silly part where our heroine (Maja Salvador) finds the remains of a dead WWII Japanese soldier in a cave and proceeds to steal the poor guy’s Arisaka rifle. (Thought it would’ve made more sense if it was the Aetas who gave it to her, but anyway.) Gorgeous cinematography, you say? Sure, but I would definitely dislike it less had the movie not drag and drag for most of its running time. Most of it is just Maja Salvador moaning, grunting, memorizing names for whatever stupid purpose it might serve her, and shambling through the forest just slightly faster than a Romero zombie. How was she able to outrun and escape the rogue cops who were after her? Incompetent henchmen trope, plot armor, lazy writing. The movie also preaches its message about indigenous people so lazily that it makes Lito Lapid’s Hindi Palulupig (1992), with its depiction of Aetas fighting against abusive hacienderos, almost worthy of being included in the National Film Registry — its local counterpart, if there was one. Sure, a lot of effort went into the movie’s look and sound design, and its painstakingly detailed depiction of head shots and exit wounds. And probably a lot less went into writing, plot, and whatever’s that which makes the action beats generate tension and suspense. Arisaka is a formulaic and frustratingly slow B-movie actioner (but will most likely get a pass because it’s) dressed in arthouse/festival circuit clothing.