Fantastic Fest 2018 Review: THE NIGHT COMES FOR US, Brutal, Spectacular Action
Joe Taslim and Iko Uwais star in Timo Tjahjanto's extremely violent action spectacular.
All you need is a girl, a gun, and 30 million gallons of blood.
Bullets, knives, and fists come in handy, too, in Timo Tjahjanto's extremely violent action picture The Night Comes For Us. The violence is brutal and explicit: broken bones burst through the skin, sharp-edged weapons slash their way into and out of body parts, and thousands of bullets thump into and fly out of bodies that take more punishment than is humanly possible.
So, yes, hardcore action fans should be delighted!
An early sequence, set in and around a butcher shop, establishes the dramatic tone. The action choreography by Iko Uwais is exquisitely elegant and murderously malevolent, colorfully captured by director Tjahjanto and cinematographer Gunnar Nimpuno. The violence -- the snapping of limbs and the chopping of chests and the smashing of heads and the explosion of blood, oh, the blood -- soars so far beyond reality and into the comic book realm that it's impossible to take seriously.
Given those parameters, the film is a spectacular success.
The girl in question is the very young Reina, who survives a seaside massacre to become a MacGuffin that might make Alfred Hitchcock queasy. The conflict at the heart of the story is a close friendship between Ito (Joe Taslim) and Arian (Iko Uwais). They led a small gang of criminals who treated each other like family. Some time before the movie begins, opportunity knocked for Ito and he left everyone behind. Arian also split, becoming an important, well-dressed cog in the Triad criminal organization that dominates the region.
Having decided to leave his secretive position with another arm of the Triads and now on the run, Ito resurfaces in his home territory of Jakarta, Indonesia, with young Reina mysteriously in tow, and contacts his old buddies. They are welcoming but suspicious, and those suspicions prove to be well-founded when violence quickly follows on Ito's heels. Arian soon shows up on the scene as well, charged by his boss with finding Ito and putting an end to his disruption.
The setup is a trifle hard to understand -- it's more fully explained a bit later in a rare quiet sequence -- but, as I quickly acknowledged to myself, nobody comes to a knife fight with a notebook in hand. Once the action kicks in, it's completely involving and entirely disastrous to anyone wearing a white shirt, because the blood and body parts are flying fast and furious.
By this point of their careers, especially, Taslim and Uwais are rock-steady counterpoints; it's no spoiler to say that everything in the movie leads up to their climatic confrontation. Before that
happens, however, many other incredible, punishing, truly impressive sequences clamor for attention, each raising the stakes in a fashion that will exhaust anyone who is not fascinated by the thought, 'How did they do that without killing anyone in real life?'
Beyond Taslim and Uwais, Sunny Pang, Zack Lee (as "White Boy Bobby"), and Julie Estelle also make damaging impressions, each unique in their fighting and/or defensive approach. As a director and self-described "horror guy," Tjahjanto continues to grow in confidence from his collaborations with Kimo Stamboel -- as The Mo Brothers -- on Macabre, Killers and Headshot. (He also codirected Safe Haven with Gareth Evans, as found in V/H/S 2 and flies solo on May the Devil Take You, also screening at Fantastic Fest this year.)
The action choreography by Iko Uwais and his team is often astonishing, but it all works thanks to the framework designed and masterminded by Tjahjanto. One can only imagine that the cuts and bruises during production were excessive and extremely painful, especially over the course of long shooting days and repeated takes. For the most part, such brief thoughts about reality are swatted away as one wonders at the marvels of The Night Comes For Us.
The film enjoyed its world premiere at Fantastic Fest. More information is available at the festival page.
Full disclosure: Todd Brown, founder and editor of this site, also served as a producer on the film. He was not involved (at all) in the writing or editing of this article.