After showing at Fantastic Fest in September, there was a lot of buzz about this Indonesian action film, most of it being some variation on “this hyper-violent martial arts flick is bat-shit insane.” It was picked up very quickly by Netflix, and hit the streaming service earlier this month. It’s directed by Timo Tjahjanto, a well-known maker of horror and action films, which (along with horribly sappy romances) are basically the bedrock of the Indonesian film industry. So hopefully they are ready to scale-up and start pounding out more of these kinds of films for international markets. It’s stacked with big-name stars like Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim and Dian Sastrowardoyo. My guess is that if people didn’t really know who Julie Estelle was before this film, they will after watching it.
In a nutshell The Night Comes for Us is a lot like The Raid, but if The Raid had like an actual budget. Both films are essentially just excuses for people to beat the shit out of each other in beautifully choreographed and intensely brutal action set pieces. The Night Comes for Us is more violent, more intense and the set pieces are more elaborate. But they both come back to a basic winning formula: lets film these actors beating the shit out of each other in increasingly insane ways.
So obviously the action is great. The brawl in the apartment, the claustrophobic scramble in the back of a police van, the scene in the butcher shop. Aside from the great choreography you’d expect from this team, the camera work really adds a lot to the fight sequences, using a lot of handheld and kinetic work to elevate the bone-shattering intensity of the action. There’s not a whole lot one can say about this movie, really. You just have to watch the fight scenes, and if that’s your thing you will like it. If not, you’re gonna hate this movie. It’s also cool that in the era of #MeToo, this film features ample opportunities for women to disembowel each other. Hyper-violence is not just a man’s domain in the world of this film.
Now obviously the plot is basically a nonsense. My girlfriend kept asking “Why is he doing this for a girl he doesn’t even know?” While it’s not my place to judge, I daresay she may have missed the point of the movie. Of course, there is talk of redemption bandied about, but the only satisfying answer to the question “Why is he doing this for a girl he doesn’t even know?” is “So he can have an excuse to kick more people in the face.”
Anyway, it’s great to see this Indonesian production get picked up by Netflix and beamed to living rooms all over the world. As I’ve written before, it seems to me that Indonesia’s film scene is on the up and up, and it’s cool to see a variety of different styles and genres coming out of the industry, from top-rate horror to action to revisionist Westerns, all being made with that special Indonesian touch. People have been sleeping on Indonesia for a while now. Maybe it’s time to wake up.