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On Netflix: THE NIGHT COMES FOR US (2018)

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THE NIGHT COMES FOR US
(US/Indonesia - 2018)

Written and directed by Timo Tjahjanto. Cast: Joe Taslim, Iko Uwais, Asha Kenyeri Bermudez, Sunny Pang, Salvita Decorte, Abimana Aryasatya, Zack Lee, Dimas Anggara, Julie Estelle, Dian Sastrowardoyo, Hannah Al Rashid, Shareefa Daanish Wibisana, Revaldo. (Unrated, 121 mins)

While writer/director Gareth Evans was busy making APOSTLE, several members of his Indonesian ensemble from the RAID films teamed with HEADSHOT co-director Timo Tjahjanto for THE NIGHT COMES FOR US, which could almost pass as THE RAID 3 if they wanted to try calling it that. Tjahjanto doesn't have quite the chops and the vision of Evans (the two worked together on V/H/S/2, co-directing the "Safe Haven" segment), and THE NIGHT COMES FOR US looks like a somewhat cruder and less polished work. Consequently, Tjahjanto compensates for these shortcomings by going absurdly overboard with a cartoonish level of gore and splatter that turns the film into the martial arts equivalent of a Cannibal Corpse greatest hits album. While the fight choreography is impressive, the endless mutilations, stabbings, slashed throats and carotid arteries, amputations, heads blown off or smashed, disembowelings, castrations, buzz-and/or-table sawings, burnings, box cutters through cheeks, and whatever other ways Tjahjanto devises to maim or kill someone do grow a bit exhausting after a while, no matter how remarkably ferocious it is at times. There's only so many times a bad guy's flunky can stick their arm out and have it snapped to a 90° angle before the novelty starts to wear off.


Indonesian action sensation and RAID franchise star Iko Uwais, recently seen tanking in America co-starring with Mark Wahlberg in the abysmal MILE 22, is onboard here in a key supporting role, but the real star is Joe Taslim, who was featured in the first RAID. Taslim is Ito, a member of Six Seas, a team of elite delegates in the employ of an Asian Triad that runs a drug smuggling and human trafficking operation in the Golden Triangle. When a small fishing village skims a little off the top of their latest payout to the Triad, Iko and his team are dispatched to wipe them out. He suddenly finds his conscience when he looks in the eyes of the lone survivor, a young girl named Reina (Asha Kenyeri Bermudez), and impulsively blows away all of his colleagues and takes a bullet in the process. Iko feels compelled to protect Reina MAN ON FIRE-style and takes her home, much to the shock and dismay of his wife Shinta (Salvita Decorte), who knows the Triad will be coming for them. Ito assembles some close cohorts to keep Reina safe while he tries to gauge how much trouble he's in. In short, it's a lot, as the word is already out that he's betrayed the Triad and he and everyone around him likely won't make it to daybreak alive (yes, this is one of those "survive the night" scenarios). Ito sends Shinta out of town and Triad boss Chien Wu (Sunny Pang) calls in Ito's estranged lifelong friend Arian (Uwais) to track him down and kill him. Chien Wu's Jakarta-wide dragnet gets numerous groups of Triad-hired killers in the mix, including Yohan the Butcher (Revaldo), kinky couple Alma (Dian Sastrowardoyo) and Elena (Hannah Al Rashid), and "The Operator" (Julie Estelle, best known as THE RAID 2's Hammer Girl), who's quickly persuaded to switch sides and help her target take on her bosses.


An early set piece in Yohan's butcher shop comes very close to reaching the levels of gonzo action ecstasy that THE RAID 2 sustained for two and a half hours. It's the best and most inventive sequence in the film, but Tjahjanto too often ditches that kind of creativity and imagination to go for the shock value gross-out. Some of the non-stop splatter is indeed impressive (like when one person calmly tears off what's left of their partially amputated finger and continues fighting) but some of it is so extreme that it takes you out of the moment. THE NIGHT COMES FOR US is a go-for-broke gorefest that's probably the bloodiest film of 2018, but Tjahjanto also spends some time somewhat successfully mimicking the style of Michael Mann in both the very Tangerine Dream-ish score by Fajar Yuskemal and Aria Prayogi and numerous shots of lit-up Asian cityscapes that recall some of the more hypnotic moments of Mann's tragically underappreciated BLACKHAT. Amidst the carnage, the film also displays some occasional humor, like Ito setting three guys on fire in front of a sign that reads "Safety starts with me." Tjahjanto isn't nearly as stylish or gifted a filmmaker as either Mann or Evans, but he does as good a B-grade Mann as he does a B-grade RAID. THE NIGHT COMES FOR US has its share of memorable scenes and offers not one or two, but three pretty badass female assassins (between her work here as The Operator and as the unforgettable Hammer Girl in THE RAID 2, it's time for Julie Estelle to get her own movie), but Tjahjanto could've benefited by taking it down a notch instead of making the DEAD ALIVE of Indonesian action epics.



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