If you ever find yourself looking for validation of the saying “Good things come to those who wait”, look no further than Timo Tjahjanto’s “The Night Comes For Us”. It’s arriving on Netflix after overcoming half a decade of financing and pre-production hurdles to prove itself worth the wait…ten times over. Bringing together alumni of “Headshot” and “The Raid” films, “The Night Comes For Us” is a sizzle reel of the some of the best martial arts action to come out of Indonesia or any other territory in recent memory, and by far, some of the bloodiest.
Joe Taslim assumes the role of the film’s anti-hero, Ito, while Iko Uwais portrays his conflicted yet driven adversary, Arian. Sunny Pang appears as the nefarious crime boss, Chien Wu, with Zack Lee appearing in the role of the tough-as-nails Bobby. Julie Estelle tackles the role of a cut-throat assassin codenamed “Operator”, while Shareefa Daanish appears as a fellow assassin who gives her opponents quite the face down, and Asha Kenyeri Bermudez steps into the role of Reina, the young child whose youthful innocence brings out the better nature of Ito.
After deciding to leave their local gang life in Jakarta behind, Ito and Arian work as drug enforcers in their efforts to ascend the ranks of the Asian criminal underworld, with their ultimate aim of rising to the coveted rank of a “Six Seas” agent. When Ito’s latest assignment tasks him and his fellow enforcers with slaughtering an entire village who dared double-cross the heartless big boss, Chien Wu, Ito’s conscience finally gets the best of him when he can’t bring himself to murder Reina, a young girl from the village, leading him to kill his compatriots instead and go on the run with Reina. With Chien Wu incensed at Ito’s betrayal, he sends every assassin he’s got after him and his young companion. Meanwhile Arian sees the perfect opportunity to achieve “Six Seas” status himself and joins the pursuit of his former best friend.
Let’s go ahead and state it upfront – if you’re squeamish and have a problem with the sight of blood, you’re going to want to sit out “The Night Come For Us”. Indeed, the film is such an unapologetic bloodbath that I feel utterly confident in saying, sight unseen, that the newest chapter in the “Halloween” franchise, hitting theaters this weekend, will easily be the less gruesome of the two, by far.
Stylistically speaking, “The Night Comes For Us” watches like a modern interpretation of the Sonny Chiba “Street Fighter” movies or 1991’s “Ricky-Oh” – a story of bad guys fighting other bad guys in a criminal underworld where altruism is a mortal sin and empathy is discouraged and snuffed out at every turn.
However, even more importantly, the shocking brutality of the film’s abundant fight sequences is emblematic of a kind of tonal and stylistic inflation from that era into modern times. To put it simply, “The Night Comes For Us” is perfectly representative of what viewers felt like they were seeing in films like those. Back then, having a guy get punched with such force that his eyes bug out of his skull was shocking, but “The Night Comes For Us” knows it has to up the ante beyond pure schlock for modern audiences. This is a movie so unconcerned with any viewer’s fragile sensibilities, that it sprinkles its action sequences with moments like when a female combatant nonchalantly snaps off her partially severed ring finger like a pretzel. Squeamish moviegoers across the globe, beware – “The Night Comes For Us” doesn’t care if it leaves you lying on a therapist’s couch (leave a comment below this review describing your symptoms and if you need a referral)!
With all of that out of the way, to those viewers with appropriately strong stomachs, “The Night Comes For Us” is the meanest, wildest, most action- packed martial arts flick this year, with its two leading men and its leading lady leaving jaws agape in one unbelievable fight sequence after another. Iko Uwais is clearly relishing the chance to play a villain, albeit a curiously sympathetic one, and kicks things off splendidly against some rival gangsters in a Hong Kong club while Joe Taslim really gets to show off his versatility as a martial artist on top of his renowned judo skills.
However, Julie Estelle arguably steals the show for the third time in a row as the cut-throat assassin, who gives Ito a serious run for his money during an encounter at his apartment. Beginning as a novice martial artist with her role as ‘Hammer Girl’ in “The Raid 2”, Estelle comes across as a natural and with her delectably poised performance in the here, you could plug her into the role of almost any Bond girl and we’d all be none the wiser.
The monstrously action-stacked third act of the film also sees her take on a duo of female assassins in an absolutely pulse-pounding duel of contract killers, which ends with a quite literally gut-wrenching final blow. The finale also sees Ito storming the castle to leave an entire room full of enemies in various stages of rigor mortis, before he and Arian finally come face to face in one of the most electrifying fight sequences of the last half decade.
Tjahjanto knows how to tug at his audience’s heart strings, and does just that with a dump of emotional baggage of two former best friends laying their cards on the table before playing every card in the deck in a truly spellbinding battle of silat masters – one where the metric for victory comes down to who can sustain the most blood loss and still keep standing. The emotional impact also runs right up into the final frame of the film, with an ambiguous final shot that nevertheless offers a glimmer of hope for the redemption of the soul.
If you have even a passing interest in big screen butt-kicking, “The Night Comes For Us” is this year’s crème de la crème. Joe Taslim, Iko Uwais, and Julie Estelle each bring a unique flair to their respective roles, with Iko making an engaging villainous turn. For hardcore action aficionados, the film’s bonanza of fight sequences are as crazy and unhinged as any you’ll ever see, while Timo Tjahjanto ensures plenty of emotional power is injected into the story. It’s been a long time coming for “The Night Comes For Us”, and holy hell, was it worth the wait!
- “The Night Comes For Us” spent several years in development hell. The film was ultimately halted during pre-production in September, 2014. Timo Tjahjanto considered adapting his original screenplay into a graphic novel, before the film finally overcame its developmental hurdles and entered active production.
- The film premiered at the 2018 Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas on September 22nd. Later, on September 26th, it was announced that Netflix had acquired the distribution rights to the film.
- “When you’re a Six Seas, it’s simple – Leave no survivor. But then I saw it, just for that split moment. A tiny glimpse of life hanging by a thread. Maybe, just maybe, I can change my fate.” – Ito (on why he refused to kill Reina.)
- “Guess who’s replacing you as a Six Seas?” – Arian (to Ito during their final confrontation.)
Film Rating: 9.5/10
“The Night Comes For Us” is set to release tomorrow (19th Oct) on Netflix, so you have a real good reason to “FUflix and thrill” on Friday! Excited to see the film’s insane martial arts action? What did you think of Timo Tjahjanto’s “Headshot”, what do you think is next for this breed of all-out action beast? Let us know in the comments below; Like, share and join in the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter & Instagram (Click on for our interview with Iko Uwais too!)