Director: Erik Matti
Writer: Michiko Yamamoto, Erik Matti
Cast: Piolo Pascual, Gerald Anderson, Joel Torre, Joey Marquez, Michael de Mesa, Leo Martinez, Angel Aquino, Vivian Velez, Niño Muhlach
Running Time: 121 min.
By Jeff Bona
When I think of Filipino films, two things come to mind: goofy comedies and melodramas with overacting. My opinion comes from what I’ve seen on TV while vacationing in the Philippines and what I’ve witnessed while at my Aunt’s house (back in the day, she used to rent Tagalog films on a regular basis).
In case you haven’t already guessed, I’m Filipino myself. With that said, I’ve never seen a Filipino movie – or TV show – that was anywhere near having some kind of artistic merit or solid entertainment value. That is, until now…
I’m not going to beat around the bush. On The Job is one hell of a movie. The acclaimed reviews are accurate. My expectations were met. Seriously, how often does that happen? To put it even more simple: director Erik Matti (Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles) hit the nail right on its head with this one.
The plot is interesting, fresh and unfortunately, based on actual events. In a nut shell, the film centers on prison inmates who work secretly as hired assassins for corrupt politicians. It’s a story of a killer and his pupil, a good cop versus the system, and the blood that flows when all parties collide.
Don’t be fooled into thinking On The Job is an action movie filmed with a bunch of Hong Kong-style firefights. It does have a nice chunk of energetic action pieces (accompanied by some great, heart-racing music), but let’s just say that it’s more Ringo Lam (Full Alert) than it is John Woo (The Killer). If you know your Asian cinema, then you’re aware of the compliment I just made.
Even though the actors are obviously unknown to American audiences, On The Job features a strong, well-known Filipino cast that includes Piolo Pascual (Don’t Give Up on Us), Gerald Anderson (24/7 in Love), Joel Torre (Kabisera), Joey Marquez (Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles) and Michael de Mesa (10,000 Hours).
Despite knocking Filipino films, I’m sure there are more titles out there that are decent. Nevertheless, I’ll be damned if there was another that’s as all-round solid and refreshing as On The Job. Maybe my best bet is to check out some of Matti’s prior films…
Until then, if there’s one Filipino film that is guaranteed to be worth your time, it’s On The Job.
Jeff Bona‘s Rating: 8/10