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  Night Comes for Us, The Bruising EncountersBuy this film here.
Year: 2018
Director: Timo Tjahjanto
Stars: Joe Taslim, Iko Iwais, Julie Estelle, Zack Lee, Sunny Pang, Hannah Al Rashid, Shareefa Daanish, Dian Sastrowardoyo, Salvita Decorte, Asha Kenyeri Bermudez, Abimana Aryasatya, Epy Kusnandar, Dimas Anggara, Morgan Oey, Revaldo, Ronny P. Tjandra
Genre: Drama, Action, Thriller, Martial Arts
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: A little girl, Reina (Asha Kenyeri Bermudez), awakens on a beach, washed up there and looks around to get her bearings. This she does to her horror as she sees the passengers on the boat she was on, including her parents, are being rounded up by Triads they have crossed and now those raincoat-clad henchmen are murdering them with machine guns. So when they catch sight of her, their leader, Ito (Joe Taslim), knows what he has to do and points the muzzle of one of the weapons at her, preparing to fire. But if he did, how come Reina is still alive? And how come Ito has spirited her back to his apartment, well aware what he is doing is suicidal in the gangster profession?

The Raid and its sequel The Raid 2 changed Indonesian cinema in that the nation's entertainment was now on the world's radar, and soon big distributors came a-calling, such as Netflix who offered to put this action thriller, which included amongst its talent some names from those two movies, onto Smart TVs and tablets around the globe. When they did, it arrived at a point when the provider was receiving both some of the best reviews for certain of its product and some of the worst for other examples, there appeared to be quite some polarisation in how they were judged, with many grumbling about the disposability of their efforts. This was not the case here.

The Night Comes for Us was almost universally admired, probably because those praising it were less the mainstream critics and audiences, and more the sort of cult movie buff who would seek out this sort of material, their ears pricking up when they heard the name Iko Iwais. His other big movie this year was the flop Mile 22, where it was generally agreed his masterful martial arts prowess was ruined by poor editing and framing which meant you could not appreciate his technique and sheer power. But here the Indonesians were well aware of how to show off Iwais' skills to their best advantage, and his fans brought over from The Raid would not be disappointed in the results.

Yet he was not even the main star; it was closer to an ensemble where he played a gangster on the brink of making it seriously big in the Triad underground, so if anyone was the focus, it was Taslim who provided the heart of the piece in Ito's endeavours to rescue the little girl from villains who want to kill her as much as to make a point as to eliminate a witness. The sense these criminals are more or less all-powerful in Indonesian and Far Eastern society made for a potentially bleak watch, but Ito saw what she represented: a hope for redemption. Save the girl, save your soul, finally do something with your life that has true worth, you know the kind of thing, and if that was a cliché it was as much as having an innocent child as the centre of the tornado of violence for contrast with the evildoing.

It was not only Taslim and Iwais who appeared from The Raid movies (and the fact there was no third entry arriving soon had this as a stand-in for that absent effort), but Julie Estelle, the pair's breakout female star, was here too, getting into a showpiece battle between two corrupt lesbian police officers. It was accurate to say director Timo Tjahjanto (one half of The Mo Brothers - the other was on board as producer) had a better grasp of the physicality of his cast than he did the nuance of his story, as when, say, we were offered a flashback over the halfway mark it came across as superfluous since this was already a too-long two hours in duration. That said, we were intended to be a lot more emotional about the deaths of the good guys (or bad guys turned good guys) than many an action flick, and you may find yourself getting attached to the indomitable Ito. If only to wince when we reached that finale, leaving the two leading men knocking seven shades out of one another in an undeniably striking sequence well worth waiting for.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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