Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Movie review: The Night Comes for Us, dir Timo Tjahjanto (2018)

You don’t often see an Indonesian action thriller, but given the country’s bloody history I can understand the level of violence of this film. Knives feature a lot, and in case blood is your thing death by garrotting is also on display. The story is wonderful though (it was written by the director), and so this movie is a real treat for fans of the genre (like me).

The drama centres on Ito (Joe Taslim) and Arian (Iko Uwais) who are two of a renowned “Six Seas” clique of enforcers for a Southeast Asian triad, a mafia-type organisation that among other things controls drug smuggling. Ito rescues a small girl – she must be about nine years old, and her name is Raina (Asha Kenyeri Bermudez) – on a beach where a boatload of villagers has been killed by his men. The abduction (or, if you choose to see it in another light, the rescue) puts Ito at odds with his bosses, so Arian is sent on their behalf to enact justice.

Adding colour to the mix are a shadowy operative who is unnamed (Julie Estelle) and whose allegiances are unclear, as well as two Triad assassins – Elena (a blonde Hannah Al Rashid) and Alma (the pretty Dian Sastrowardoyo), the second of whom uses a lethal wire weapon to kill her opponents. The friendship between Ito and Arian is bolstered by flashbacks, and other friends – Bobby (an unhinged Zack Lee) and Fatih (Abimana Aryasatya plays the role straight) – are given prominence as well.

This is an interesting film because of the way loyalties rest at different moments in the drama. It’s also another Asian movie that I watched in recent weeks that underscores the importance of children; the other was Korean film ‘Train to Busan’, a zombie movie.

‘The Night Comes for Us’ features some great performances and like all good exponents of the genre the action is unrelenting. It’s also inventive. Martial arts fans fall in line! I didn’t flinch at the blood because it’s all largely symbolic, and totally stagey. This movie wears the label “kitsch” with pride and the lesbian theme embodied by Elena and Alma, both of whom are Eurasian, is particularly amusing. I watched this movie with English subtitles.

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