Timo Tjahjanto’s THE NIGHT COMES FOR US plays like a great rock ‘n’ roll record. It kicks off with a terrific one-two punch and keeps that momentum going before slowing down for some relatively quieter moments. Then, it hits you hard with some easy rockers before closing with a big, ‘ol beast of an opus. The film is an assault on the senses, and in the hands of a lesser filmmaker, the over the top violence could devolve into something so exhausting that it becomes dull. NIGHT essentially never bores us and always gets to the chorus. THE NIGHT COMES FOR US keeps audiences on its toes by perpetually changing up locations and bringing some real inventiveness to the gory proceedings.
After Triad enforcer Ito (Joe Taslim) goes rogue, he returns to his former crime family that he abandoned years later for help. He’s on the run with a young girl in tow; Ito shows up at ex-girlfriend Shinta’s apartment with the Triad hot on his trail. The dynamic has shifted, there’s a new crime boss on the block Yohan who has taken over the drug trade in the area and Arian—a former member of their crew—has moved up the Triad ladder. The old gang gets back together to help their brother out, save for Arian, who is tasked with taking out his old friend…and that’s really where the fun begins. The story and the plot are typical action movie fare, and arguably a MacGuffin just to get the action sequences kickstarted. THE NIGHT COMES FOR US grabs the audience by the throat, squeezes tight, and never lets go.
THE NIGHT COMES FOR US recalls the glory days of Hong Kong action cinema. Ultra cool heroes and villains do battle in violent ballets, with our heroes and villains utilizing their surroundings (a slab of beef in a meat locker, pool balls in gangland headquarters) over the course of the film’s two hours. Heavy are the themes of friendship and brotherhood that peppered so many crime classics of the past, from CITY ON FIRE to THE KILLER. Whereas the cinema of John Woo always had a certain arthouse aesthetic, making violence beautiful, NIGHT makes a hard left, leaning into splatter and gore that wouldn’t be out of place in ‘80s horror. Grimy, gross, and nasty. THE NIGHT COMES FOR US at times feels like a video game, building off the non-stop, heighten style of both THE RAID and THE RAID 2, and eased its way into American film by way of JOHN WICK and that film’s sequel.
Where NIGHT improves upon something like WICK 2 is that the filmmakers are constantly changing things up, not just the locations, from characters involved to implements used. One minute you’re watching a single man take on apartment full of gangsters, the next you’re watching an ultra cool lady on a motorcycle brutally chop up some bad guys and girls in a neon drench fleabag motel, then there’s a close quarters battle utilizing gunplay and hand to hand combat in the back of a police van…and that’s not all. There’s so much more. Tjahjanto expertly utilizes all of these set pierces, mixing it it up enough, so that while the film is certainly exhausting in the best way—you can feel some of the nastier moments in your bones—and it’s never boring. THE NIGHT COMES FOR US is positively unrelenting and the practical gore will make even the most hardened splatter fan wince. There’s very little time for tough guy dialogue in this one: the characters actions truly speak louder than words. Sharpened bones, buzz saws, and razor blades are used to their fullest ability. Yeah, there’s gunplay too. Plenty of action flicks have things that get blowed up real good, but its even more satisfying when it’s a villainous Triad member literally getting blown to pieces.
Indonesian action cinema is having a moment right now. The Indo-Western BUFFALO BOYS was a favorite of this reviewer at Fantasia earlier this year. Both BUFFALO BOYS and THE NIGHT COMES FOR US, by building on regional action tropes throughout the years and around the world, and create something new and exciting. THE NIGHT COMES FOR US represents the future of worldwide action cinema, and hopefully this over the top, ultra-gory style will be embraced by U.S. audiences. JOHN WICK is certainly a beginners guide to this kind of over the top action cinema, but THE NIGHT COMES FOR US jus about perfects it.
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