“I’m Paul Barlow, and this is my daughter Jo.”

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

The Night Comes For Us

THE NIGHT COMES FOR US is another outstanding gauntlet of gory martial arts violence and honor among killers from Timo Tjahjanto, writer-director of the excellent HEADSHOT. Once again the action is choreographed by Iko Uwais (star of THE RAID), and he’s in it and he’s great, but Joe Taslim gets to play the lead this time. Taslim played Jaka in THE RAID and was also in the best FAST & FURIOUS movie (FURIOUS 6) but he doesn’t seem to get noticed like Iko and Yayan. Or at least he didn’t get to be eaten by a monster in THE FORCE AWAKENS with them. So every time I read his name I think of it to the tune of this:

Taslim’s character Ito is one of the “Six Seas,” elite enforcers for the Triads who from the sounds of it are kinda like the Seal Team Six of international crime. For his job he has to be ridiculously skilled and completely heartless, but one day during a routine massacre-of-entire-village he doesn’t feel like killing the last survivor, a little girl named Reina (Asha Kenyeri Bermudez). Instead he guns down his own team and takes off to hide the kid in Jakarta. And sure, this doesn’t erase all the people he’s killed in his three years on the job, but it’s like when the Grinch’s heart grows at the end of his story. Let’s give the man credit for changing.

Ito’s old girlfriend Shinta (Salvita Decorte) thought he was dead, but she’s not happy to see him. Still, she bandages him and calls Fatih (Abimana Aryasatya) and the rest of Ito’s gang from the old days. Or at least the ones that aren’t dead or in jail. All that’s really left is White Boy Bobby (Zack Lee, THE RAID 2, whose mother is half British), and then they got Fatih’s younger cousin Wisnu (Dimas Anggara). The other surviving member of the crew is Arian (Uwais), but just like Ito he left them all behind. He’s a bigshot in Macau now, so much so that he gets the order to track down and kill Ito for his betrayal.

At first the plot seems more like the labyrinthine gang politics of THE RAID 2 than the diamond-pure simplicity of THE RAID, because they’re setting up these factions and past relationships and feuds.
But it doesn’t take long to build the momentum of an unstoppable boulder rolling down a hill. If anything is ever hard to follow it rarely gets in the way of the excitement of these colorful characters bouncing off each other, to speak figuratively, or shooting/stabbing/kicking/slamming/slicing/choking/crushing/breaking each other, if you want to be literal. Like in HEADSHOT, a great fighter can survive a whole Friday-night-in-a-big-city-ER’s worth of injuries and, with enough gumption, keep fighting until the dial on the blood tank hits empty. It’s long and exhausting and thrilling the whole time.

Pretty much all these characters, with the exception of Shinta and Reina, have killed a ton of people. In this ugly world there’s a different definition of good and bad: good guys are the ones who drop everything and put their lives on the line to protect this little girl, bad guys are the ones they have to protect her from. Ito’s old friends are low level fuckups left behind when he ascended to superstar status. White Boy Bobby is bitter about that, and doesn’t understand Ito’s point of view that becoming a Sea was a necessary sacrifice to protect them all after Bobby’s dumb junkie ass started their gang selling drugs. I don’t know if they can forgive each other but it seems like water under the bridge when the shit goes down. The boys go above and beyond and then under and back around and then above a couple more times the call of duty in protecting Reina. White Boy Bobby is angry and crazy, he limps because of his artificial leg, and he will be stabbed a hundred times protecting that little girl, and smile and laugh while he does it. You want heroic bloodshed? Tjahjanto will cover the whole warehouse floor with it, sprinkled with glass and bullets and broken furniture.

Man, the night really did come for these guys.

(I’m not totally sure what the title means. It sounds cool, though.)

Conversations I’ve had about the movie are mostly a list of violent acts. (SPOILER FOR SOME OF THE VIOLENT ACTS.) “Oh man, when the little girl has to stab that guy!” “When he takes off his jacket and then he throws it over her head and kicks her through that door. Not trying to kill her, just stop her.” But behind this outrageous mayhem I think there’s a delicate precision, a great deal of thought put into setting and choreography of action and camera movement. For example the layout and furnishings of the apartment are very well established before the fighting goes all through it and tears it apart. There’s some of that Jackie Chan thing where fights are built around the environment and the props at hand. So you get little touches like Arian banging an unruly clubgoer’s head against a stripper pole, then grabbing it to stop it from vibrating. And of course when Ito fights Yohan (Revaldo), who works out of a butcher shop, hatchets, meat hooks, saws, bones and big pieces of meat are all used as weapons.

But there’s another scene in a place where there’s an inflatable raft hanging on a wall and I was a little disappointed when it was never used for anything. (He did use the pool table though. And a pool stick. And pool balls. And the net from the corner of the pool table. And a hanging light.)

Between this and HEADSHOT it’s clear that Tjahjanto has a knack for creating characters who don’t have the chance to be fully developed by traditional movie standards, yet are totally captivating due to the way they behave, the way they dress, the weapons they use, the style they fight with. This goes especially for the women.

The Triads have two really mean female enforcers who seem to be in a relationship. Alma (Dian Sastrowardoyo) seems to especially enjoy attacking people, and she has a razor wire mace/whip that she spins around. And in the great tradition of exotic Caucasian villains in Asian movie comes this scary white lady Elena (Hannah Al Rashid, V/H/S/2). She has her hair shaved on one side, uses a curved knife, and is very confident in her skills. At one point her henchmen pull out their guns and she waves them off dismissively so she can do all the killing with her blade. Before another fight she goes over to a crucifix on the wall and flips it upside down.

But the standout character may still be “The Operator” (Julie Estelle, Hammer Girl from THE RAID 2), a mysterious agent of some kind who arrives halfway through the movie on her motorcycle and has to figure out what Ito is up to before she knows whether to kill him or help him. To me, her fight against Alma and Elena is the highlight in a movie full of highlights. Of all the hundreds of gruesome things that happen in this movie I definitely winced the most during this fight, which includes an Argento-worthy death and (GORE SPOILER) an outrageous samurai moment where a character realizes one of her finger tips is almost severed and just plucks it off like a grape. Then another makes the most disgusting sound as a wound on her stomach suddenly tears open and dumps out some intestines.

Three of my friends saw this at Fantastic Fest. One text me immediately after. Another brought it up as soon as he saw me back at home. The third asked “Did they tell you about your new favorite movie?” the next time he saw me. One is fond of saying “Eleven applause breaks!” (I don’t know why he was counting.)

And of course if you’ve read me talking about my all-timer theatrical experience seeing THE RAID you’ll know I’m sad that something like this has to go straight to Netflix, with no chance of seeing it with a crowd, and possibly no physical media ever. I also had streaming issues preventing me from seeing the very end. Still, just seeing this alone at home was an adrenaline rush. It’s that high I’m always looking for in action movies. It’s everything I love presented in a way, and with such flair, that it feels like something new.

P.S. I haven’t seen anyone talking about this at all, but Tjahjanto is hoping to make a “Night Trilogy” and implies that at least The Operator would be back.

P.P.S. And if you can’t wait to find out more about The Operator, he also posted a deleted scene taking place after her confrontation with Ito, when she goes to see her handler.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 28th, 2018 at 10:13 am and is filed under Action, Martial Arts, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

32 Responses to “The Night Comes For Us”

  1. For some reason I was talking with Geoffrey and I was convinced you were never going to see this movie because you didn’t like immediately review it. I had a lot going on in my life with my move and stuff so I might not have been 100% all there lol

    Anyway, Julie Estelle is the best.

    Also, we need more White Boy Bobby in our lives.

  2. Interesting isn’t it how films with starting premises like this through to the Bourne Identity and others where the slightest signs of any kind of humanity lead to much worse mass slaughters than if the central protagonist just did their job without question as odious as it is.

  3. I realize this may be an unpopular opinion, so I preface this with the movie is pretty awesome, with some amazing fighting some of the sickest gore fx since Day of the Dead.

    (The Rhames/Suvari one. Just playin).

    Ultimately, though, the violence became relentless, and I kinda got exhausted, but also bored. Therr are only so many variations on how many dudes canbe stabbed in a minute.

    Hell, i even started to feel sorry for the idiots who kept lining up to get their asses kicked/killed in increasingly sick ways. I was hoping one of them would have been like the dude in Iron Man 3 who threw his gun down and just walked away*.

    Again, everyones mileage varies with these movies, and its cool. The actors were all top notch and everyone did a great job. This is kinda just how I felt.

    *was that dude in Iron Man 3 Black’s pedo bud? The one cut from The Predator?

  4. I wish Netflix would give films give this a theatrical release.

  5. Loved this one. I immediately watched Headshot again after. Then i saw Tjahjanto had a new horror on Netflix and watched it. I agree there should be a theatrical release for their films, and at the same time, I’m glad there’s easy access to them.

  6. It’s funny but I couldn’t sit through Headshot for the very same reason I loved The Night Comes For Us.

  7. This was great. After being underwhelmed by Killers, Headshot and Night give me total confidence in any future output.

    Are Apostle and Hold the Dark worth watching? I’ve heard mixed on both but it’s Evans and Saulnier.

  8. Really enjoyed this. Great review too!

  9. The thing I like best about it is that it conveyed some emotion to me for each character. I certainly would love to see more of this.

  10. I was curious as to how this would be welcomed. There seemed to be a consensus during the HEADSHOT discussion that it might be too grim and violent for it’s own good. This one isn’t excactly holding back either, but I didn’t get the same vibe from it.

  11. “I’m not totally sure what the title means. It sounds cool, though.”

    I took it as a variant of “Darkness is Coming” aka Death is coming – for anyone and possibly even everyone (well, eventually given enough time, yes).

  12. Franchise Fred —

    I’ve watched both Hold the Dark and Apostle in the last two weeks. I recommend them both, although both get the “mileage may vary” caveat instead of an unreserved yes. I thought they benefited greatly from tone, mood, setting, and maybe less for plot and, um, maybe realism? Each one was kind of a slow burn; Apostle in particular might be a non-Raid-like surprise. I’d give them a shot, though. I think I liked Hold the Dark more, if you end up trying to decide between them.

  13. Winchester, I’m with you except without the preface. As I mentioned in another thread, I made it about 45 minutes through this flick, and to be honest I was completely bored through 20 of them,

  14. I haven’t seen HOLD THE DARK because it seems like Saulnier is going the “more boring equals more serious” route and I am very much not in the mood for that. I am in the mood for bold, dynamic but still serious genre filmmaking that isn’t afraid to throw in some big along with its slow (you know, like GREEN ROOM). Which might also be why I found APOSTLE mostly underwhelming. Evans can do big and bold but also serious and sometimes slow as well as anybody, but this felt too generic indie folk horror to really make the best use of his talents. There’s one great spear fight that lasts about eight seconds but the rest, while well executed for this sort of thing, could have been made by anybody. I can think of like four guys from Spain alone that could have made the same exact movie. It’s not bad but I’d be surprised if it stuck with you.

  15. Oh, and I guess I should share my thoughts on THE NIGHT COMINGS, copied over from another thread:

    I saw THE NIGHT COMES FOR US, which everyone should see. The plot makes almost no sense, some extremely vital character relationships are simply not established at all, and the title makes it sound like some hipster zombie movie with no zombies in it that I wouldn’t watch, but who gives a shit when the action is so nuts? It’s not up to RAID levels of precision craftsmanship but there’s a sloppiness to the mayhem that I found delightful. The apartment onslaught was the highlight for me. As much as I appreciated the slowly simmering savagery Talsim brought to his boilerplate Violent Man Seeking Redemption and the unexpected hints of mega Iko used to flesh out his underwritten antagonist, the movie belongs to Zack Lee as White Boy Bobby, a standard The One Junkie Fuckup In The Crew character so awesome he redeems that entire tired trope. I love an action movie that gives its supporting heroes their moments in the sun, and this one gives them all thrilling action beats, moving bits of heroic motivation, and (SPOILER) glorious deaths. Bobby really stands out though. I would eagerly watch an entire prequel about how lost that leg. Or just a day in the life of him spazzing out and throwing dudes out windows and shit. A hospital drama. A three-camera sitcom. Whatever. Bring me more White Boy Bobby.

    This one is just the right balance of serious and dumb. It’s not cracking jokes all the time but it’s also not asking you to sit through more than the barest minimum of fake drama. (I love that the disapproving girlfriend character just disappears from the movie halfway through. Sorry, lady, we have no time for your semi-realistic emotional trauma. We have randos to mutilate.) I continue to be very pleased with the state of the art of action filmmaking in general and of Indonesia in particular. Can’t wait to see what these crazy fuckers come out with next. As much as I love my crazy Thai fuckers, I have to admit the Indonesians put that little extra mustard on it. The filmmaking is generally more ambitious and the acting is certainly superior. I would watch a full action vehicle starring literally any of the main actors in this movie. But especially my new main man Zack Lee. Get this fucker in a vigilante movie or something. He’s big, he’s nuts, and he’s totally lovable. I want to watch him murder dudes and protect orphans and shit. I think he’s got the goods.

  16. Let’s not forget that although Joe Taslim didn’t get to be eaten by a space monster in the third most financially successful movie of all time, he did get to fight Sofia Boutella in that Star Trek movie that the Internet didn’t like but which was actually pretty great.

    Not seen this or APOSTLE – though that’s been hurting a lot – as I’ve dropped off the Netflix. Someone here made a compelling argument that Netflix was anti-cinema which chimed with my own prejudices. Then again can anyone giving work to Bong Joon-Ho really be so bad? Help me here!

  17. APOSTLE is, like, not a good movie, but I highly enjoyed it. It’s bold and crazy and hysterical and frequently stupid, typically in entertaining ways. I also loved how incapable Evans is of doing the slow burn thing. Never before has someone tried to underdo things in such an overdone way. Well before the movie goes nuts in its second half, Evans is already amping up the tone way too hard, and directing the cast to constantly overact. Dan Stevens is especially bad in it, but in a way that is exactly right for the movie.

    HOLD THE DARK is, sadly, mostly a snoozefest, with one great action scene and a small handful of smaller moments not being enough to offset the glacial pace and terrible screenplay.

  18. I was excited but also a little concerned by all the hype from Fantastic Fest, since I have seen a lot of flicks at previous FFs that played great in a theater full of people but whose flaws are much more apparent on the small screen. Unfortunately I am with Winchester on this, because while I’m sure it was a blast hearing a lot of “whoa!” or “oh shit!” reactions from an audience, watching it at home the non-stop bloodshed got exhausting pretty fast. Doling out the occasional gore for a few big moments would have been far more impactful, and worse is that the movie’s prioritization of bloody kills comes at the expense of showcasing good clean martial arts in most instances.

  19. Hold the dark is absolutely worth it for the unbelievable gun fight (we all know which one). I have never seen an action scene quite like it in terms of sheer brutality. It highlights how a man in a well-defended crows nest with superior firepower is basically invincible. Puny handguns and shotguns might as well be water pistols.

    Theres great acting from everyone involved, especially James badge dale and Alex Skarsgard (sp?) who is a scary motherfucker.

    I’d rank it below blue ruin and green room because it’s a little intentionally obtuse (in frustrating, not intriguing ways). Still worth watching.

  20. I like a lot of the actors in HOLD THE DARK, but they’ve all been directed to whisper and/or mumble all of their dialogue and I feel like that shit is actor kryptonite. Jeffrey Wright and Alexander Skarsgård have never been this boring before, which seems impossible since Skarsgård gets to murder people while wearing a creepy wooden wolf mask. But all he gets to do is mumble and glower through a non-role that’s only memorable for the parts where he kills people.

  21. Hey, congrats to Vern for getting some props from the man himself

    Timo Tjahjanto on Twitter

    “Verns review of TNCFU legit give me the feels. His familiarity with Asian movie tropes : undisputable Brotherhood, OTT Masculinity, Gangland politics & even “Caucasian Villain” sub-trope (all the things I love) definitely matters. https://t.co/8DXZeBhPCA”

  22. Johnny Utah, lack of realism is actually a bonus for me as I want movies to make less sense. Making sense is the death of creativity.

    I’m sure I’ll grt to both eventually and won’t expect either to equal The Night Comes For Us (mostly).

  23. Majestyk, if it’s more Zack you want, you could do worse than watching the new Indonesian TV show GRISSE. It’s on HBO. It’s not groundbreaking stuff, but it has some good fights and Lee in bad guy mode.

  24. Watched this tonight and dug it a lot. The plot didn’t make a ton of sense, but the fight scenes and set pieces were excellent.
    And yes, sign me up for more movies about The Operator.

  25. OF all the extreme gore in this movie, the finger thing definitely made me squirm the most.

  26. I thought the action filmatism in this was definitely up a considerable notch from Headshot.

    The female assassins fight was amazing, and the Taslim/Uwais fight was jaw droppingly violent and incredibly well choreographed.

    Not content with making one great film in 2018, Tjahjanto also has ‘May the Devil Take You’ which is like an Indonesian Evil Dead, and, like The Night Comes For Us, doesn’t fuck about. Recommended

  27. Finally got a free evening last night to catch this one and thought it was an absolute blast. It has the energy and feel of a new classic, in my opinion. I had the same feeling after it ended as I did after I watched Dredd or Brawl on Cell Block 99 or Fury Road for the first time- flicks that just fire on all cylinders for me and I already know I’ll be forcing it on friends and family for the next 6 months.

    What really elevates this one, for me, is that it felt like everyone was actually *acting* in addition to just showing of some spectacular action. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like the acting in, say, The Raid was bad or anything like that, but in this one it just felt like there was more for everyone to dig their teeth into, so to speak- all this betrayal and years of bad feelings and loyalty and friendship all coming to a head and the actors are all conveying a lot of that weight with just little looks and head tilts and it’s just great stuff.

  28. Oh also- the finger thing actually didn’t bug me too much, but what DID make me sit up on my couch in discomfort was the scene when Iko Uwais just full-force shinkicks that I-beam. The sound and his reaction made it seem like the most painful thing to happen to someone in a movie full of unbelievably painful things happening to people.

  29. Does anyone have any idea when we’ll get to see TRIPLE THREAT?

  30. Borg9, this is my most asked question of 2018.

  31. I don’t know guys. I feel like I watched a completely different movie from most of you.

    My guard went up the moment that one dude punctuated every single gap in his conversation with giggles, despite the fact that Ito was ritualistically tearing him apart. Ha, ha? I mean, I can suspend some degree of disbelief for goofy action, but I don’t want to watch cliche, goofy shit like the maniacally giggling bad guy that I’ve seen in ten or twenty shitty movies before, in a movie that’s otherwise struggling to engage me.

    So from that point forward the fight scenes just became exhausting. The climactic fight was the worst. Those guys should have both been dead, or at least dead on their feet, five times over, and the movie failed to earn enough goodwill from me to accept that nonsense.

    I understand that the unrealistic violence is a thing in these movies, particularly with these over the top overseas movies, but I feel like the first hundred minutes had to be better for me to get on board with it. I’m bummed to be so out of touch on this one, where both you guys and the mainstream reviewers mostly dug it, but I’m glad it provided pleasure, in some cases apparently very great pleasure, for some of you.

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