Film review: The Night Comes for Us
A bone-cracking, blood-drenched beautifully choreographed symphony of brutality: Timo Tjahjanto’s (Headshot, V/H/S/2) “The Night Comes for Us” is intoxicatingly savage. It was evident from the trailers it would share similarities with “The Raid” films: its main characters Joe Taslim and Iko Uwais, sheer ferocity, location and story to an extent have all been witnessed already, however, Tjahjanto manages to (somehow) amp-up the violence to help you distinguish it amongst the flurry of similitude.
The visual DNA of the film is made up of self-awareness and vibrancy and over the course of two-hours logic is, admirably, disregarded several times in favour of an exuberant showcase of the Indonesian martial art Silat in tightly-knit fight sequences serenaded by a synth-based score by “The Raid” composers Fajar Yuskemal and Aria Prayogi.
During a task Ito (Taslim), one of six elite Triad assassins named: The Six Seas working for the South East Asian Triad who control the smuggling operation in the region, fails to meet his obligation whilst watching the rest of his team execute and burn villagers instead he has a sudden change of heart in the form of a young girl. He kills his team and flees the siege with the young girl. The Triad boss Chien Wu (Sunny Pang) calls upon an old friend of Ito’s: Arian (Uwais), a fixer, to kill them and replace him. In the process, countless bodies are severed and an absurd amount of blood paves the path to a sublime clash between Ito and Arian.
The film begins with text — Tjahjanto has decided to disregard exposition — explaining the current state of the underworld and, unfortunately, this sets the film up to rely heavily on the well-crafted fight scenes to carry it through the vibrantly captured two-hour runtime. The lack of character development, incoherent flashbacks in the latter half, and the overloaded-ness of it all might, potentially, cause general viewers to dismiss the film — action fatigue if you will.
However, cinematographer Gunnar Nimpuno (“Killers”), delightfully, utilities widescreen framing to present the action in every environment in an attention grasping manner. And at times vitalising the splendid camerawork alongside our main characters Ito and Arian are Chien Wu’s brutal lesbian sidekicks, Alma (Dian Sastrowardoyo) and Elena (Hannah Al Rashid). Lesbian sidekicks have been portrayed before, but never like this before.
Ultimately, the film doesn’t offer anything new or isn’t unique, but still manages to serve up two hours of extravagant martial arts choreography that for some reason is still satisfying, perhaps it’s because it doesn’t feel realistic in the slightest sense, but rather an attempt to finish a martial art solo mission in story with fights akin to Mortal Kombat without having to do anything.