The theme of the female vigilante with the additional value of the protagonist being a very beautiful woman not previously associated in any way with the action genre, has been working quite well recently for the Philippino film industry. In that fashion, after Richard Somes‘s “We Will Not Die Tonight” with Erich Gonzalez came Erik Matti’s “BuyBust” with Anne Curtis and now was the time for the latter’s co-protagonist in “No Other Woman”, Cristine Reyes, to play Pedring Lopez’s “Maria”.
The rather generic story involves a former BlackRose cartel assassin named Lily, who, after refusing to complete her last mission, has escaped and managed to evade the grasp of the syndicate, even forming her own family. Some years later, and as the power struggles in the organization, between Kaleb and Victor, the two number 2s in the hierarchy, rise over the assassination of an influential politician, the former stumbles upon Lily, who now goes by Maria, and his thirst for revenge reaches the highest levels. A manhunt soon begins, but when tragedy hits Maria’s family, she becomes the hunter.
In terms of context, there is not much here that we have not witnessed before, but as Lopez has mentioned in one of his interviews, “I didn’t want to re-invent the wheel. Maria is a full on revenge film, clear and simple. It’s the “you fuck with me I fuck you up” kinda revenge film.” (Source: thefanboyseo.com). In that fashion, both the characters and the story are just here to provide a background for the action, in distinct, genre style. And since the focus is on the action, I have to say that the film thrives on this aspect, with the combination of deadly and sexy deriving from Maria and a number of other female opponents she faces, carrying the film for its whole duration.
The action choreography by Sonny Sison (who also worked in “BuyBust” and plays a small part in the film as an MMA trainer) is exceptional, with him taking full advantage of the aforementioned combination to present a number of rather impressive action scenes, featuring martial arts (hand-to-hand combat and the use of various weapons) and guns. The ones in the nightclub (particularly the brutal ending of the fight of the two women and the killing of one of the villains with pills) and the final, quite lengthy one in the rain during the night are the most memorable, although the majority of them are rather good.
These two scenes also provide the apogee of Pao Orendain’s work in the cinematography department, while the way his camera seems to be “in love” with Cristine Reyes, presenting her undeniable beauty in all its glory, definitely benefits the film, with the trait extending to the other female roles, by Jennifer Lee and Cindy Miranda.
Jason Cahapay’s editing gives the film a rather fast pace, although there are moments of calmness, particularly in the scenes in the bar, which, through the use of lighting, give the movie a slight noir feeling. The combination of the editing and the mostly heavy metal music also works very well for the film, which, quite frequently, functions as an extreme music video.
The male villains could have been induced with a little more depth, but as I mentioned before, context is not the focus of the film, and in general, this does not fault the movie significantly. On the other hand, Cristine Reyes plays the roles of the caring wife/mother and of the vigilante with equal persuasiveness, in the best acted role in the movie.
Not much more to say, “Maria” is violent, sexy, and a more than worthy entry to the female vigilante subgenre that all fans of action films will enjoy.