In an interview I had with Timo Tjahjanto in 2017, in a question about the appeal of violence on screen, he stated: “Violence speaks to me easily, and I think way too easy, to the point that I find myself often fighting hard for self-restraint. I think that’s where Kimo (Stamboel, the other half of Mo Brothers) usually comes to play, he is the guy that put breaks on my violence-throttle”. Well, let’s just say that Kimo is nowhere to be found in this movie.
At the height of its power, the South East Asian Triad controls 80% of Asia’s smuggling activities. Utilizing the notorious Golden Triangle as the main hub, the Triad profits heavily from illegal drugs, weapons and human trafficking. To keep the channels free from chaos and outside disturbance, the Triad leaders created a small formation of elite delegates called the Six Seas, which allowed them free reign to perform extreme measures, all in the name of order and obedience. The Six Seas are six men and women, all their identities anonymous.
After massacring a village in response to stolen Triad money, Ito, one of The Six Seas, discovers the last survivor, a young girl named Reina. When the Triad soldiers are about to kill her, Ito instead kills them all, and is wounded himself. Returning to his apartment with the girl, he faces an infuriated girlfriend, Sinta, who eventually calls his ex-comrades, Fatih, Wisnu and Bobby, a cocaine addict. The four of them now have to face scores of enemies headed by Chien Wu, including two female assassins, Alam and Elena, and an old comrade, Arian, whom Wu recalls from China to Indonesia for the specific purpose. Eventually, another woman with a whole new different agenda, who calls herself “The Operator”, also makes her appearance.
Timo Tjahjanto directs a movie that is dominated by two elements, which actually complement each other: action and violence. Regarding the first, one can only admit that the work done on the action choreography and the stunts (by Iko Uwais and his team) is more than impressive, with them keep finding new ways and “tricks” to implement, a trait that was also quite visible in “Headshot”. In that fashion, anything can be used as a weapon, from animal bones (in the scene in the butcher shop) to pool balls and even a sign that read “Caution Wet Floor”. The “normal” weapons are here of course, including guns, machetes, but most of all, all kinds of knives, which provide the most impressive scenes on the film, along with the hand-to-hand ones.
The action follows the “bigger fish” tactic, where more powerful fighters keep appearing, with the scenes where the strongest ones clash being the most impressive, with the fact that a number of them take place in narrow spaces, in corridors and small apartments, adding much to the impact they have. In that fashion, Gunnar Nimpuno’s cinematography is excellent in capturing the intricacy and the speed of the fights, which is also greatly implemented by Arifin Cuunk’s frantic editing. Tjahjanto also included a brief scene that reminded me much of the introductory one in “The Villainess”, while the most impressive ones include the quite lengthy final one, the one between two of the women, and all those that include Bobby.
The acting is also on a very high level for the genre, with Iko Uwais as the cool but tormented Arian and Joe Taslim as the fed up and desperate Ito giving very fitting performances, that add some thriller elements to the film. The ones who steal the show, though, are the secondary acts, with Julie Estellle as The (mysterious) Operator, Sunny Pang as the archetype of the “noble villain” as Chien Wu, Hannah Al Rashid as the perverted and sadistic Elena and Zack Lee as the drug-addicted “beast” Bobby being the ones that elevate the film to the top of the genre.
Regarding the violence of the film, I have to say that this is one of the bloodiest action films ever. The combination of gore, intense sound (just listen to the sound of bones being broken and you will know what I mean), and the repeated neck stabbings, result in a number of ultraviolent scenes, where blood seems to fill the whole screen. Evidently, not a film for the faint-hearted.
Not much more to say. If you enjoy violent action/ martial arts films, do not look further, “The Night Comes for Us” is at the top of the category.