After the Indonesian film industry got a shot in the arm (and face, and chest) thanks to Gareth Evans towering The Raid series, it seems that every now and then another hard hitting, stunningly brutal action flick pops out of the woodwork to impress and unnerve us in equal measure. The latest of these comes courtesy of streaming giant Netflix and is the gore strewn action epic The Night Comes For Us which owes a lot more to Gareth Evans’ seminal, blood spraying masterpiece than just the inclusion of a couple of familiar faces. It’s directed with a keen eye for devastating Mortal Kombat style body damage by Timo Tjahjanto, the man who previously soaked random Raid cast members with gallons of rhesus positive in the equally brutal Headshot but here he’s obviously got a self imposed murder/death/kill quota to complete and by God he’s going to fill it if it kills him… and every stuntman he has in his employ.
Ito is a special enforcer in in a group called the Six Seas, the East Asian Triad section that deals in swift and terrible action against anyone foolish/greedy/desperate enough to steal from them. A good example of this is the entire fishing village he and his goons have just machine gunned off the face of the earth as punishment for skimming some of the product they’ve been smuggling for the criminal empire – but something snaps inside Ito when the smoke clears and the only person left standing is a bambi-eyed little girl. Suddenly decreeing that an entire village + one little girl is one little girl too much for his overburdened soul to take, Ito slaughters his men and takes the child to shelter, therefore causing a massive, bloodthirsty uproar within his peers. He stashes the girl with his washed up criminal friends whom he left behind before going up in the world of mass murder, but Ito hasn’t counted on the opportunistic Arian, another old friend of his who is also making noticable strides in his legally questionable career and is offered a chance to take Ito’s place in the Six Seas if he can aid in bringing his old buddy down. After a devastating attack on his friends shortens his options (not to mention his Christmas card list) drastically, Ito and the child find an uneasy ally in The Operator, a lethal woman with mysterious reasons who opts to protect the girl while our “hero” chooses to hurl himself into a revenge fueled final battle that aims to leave as many people dead as it possibly can…
Anyone approaching The Night Comes For Us expecting the beautiful gliding combat of Jet Li, the slapstick hi-jinks of Jackie Chan or even the ruthless efficiency of Bruce Lee are going to be traumatised by the desperate, messy scraps Indonesian action have to offer, where people are not so much defeated as filleted into screaming chunks until no blood remains in their ravaged bodies whatsoever. While TNCFU gained some criticisms for it’s overwhelmingly gratuitous violence, I however found it exhilarating in the extreme which may not say much for my state of mind, but God dammit I loved it.
As a matter of fact, Tjahjanto’s complete and utter dedication to the pulping of the human form actually helps the film overcome some of it’s flaws, after all, the plot of a maniac regaining his humanity by bonding with a sad faced tot has been done by everything from Grosse Pointe Blank to The Mandalorian; and some of the characterization is slightly thin but this vaguely John Woo-esque story of best friends forced to mutilate each other thanks to their gangster lifestyles.
However, if you happen to be on the same wavelength as a movie that introduces it’s villain by having him utilise a broken wine bottle on a man’s face like it’s medieval dentist equipment, then the extraordinarily varied methods of wince triggering violence will surely punch you clean in the gag-reflex.
An early scene set in a meat locker has Ito shedding more blood in an abattoir than Texas Chainsaw’s Leatherface – with a similar usage of meat hooks to boot – while later scenes introduce such over-the-top lunatics as a woman who slices and dices her victims with weaponized piano wire and a character who is so ridiculously tough, she nonchalantly rips off a partially severed finger in order to continue punching her opponent unencumbered.
However, it’s the final showdown in which Ito and Arian square off in a staggeringly insane brawl manages to not only top everything that’s gone before, but even almost tops the kitchen fight in The Raid 2 for artery severing mayhem and literally carries both it’s participants – and us – through a gore laden hell as they use pipes, chunks of wood, box cutters and even a fucking bandsaw in order to reduce each other to bloody chunks for our flabbergasted enjoyment. Although, for a fight where someone is stabbed with a box cutter right through the inside of his mouth so the blade pokes out his cheek, the most wince-worthy incident ironically proves to be Arian mistiming a kick and cracking his shin off the corner off a solid steel girder. It’s this attention to gruesome detail that keeps The Night Comes For Us and it’s no-bullshit style that keeps it’s frequent horrors so beguiling.
You’ll can’t help but notice that I’ve constantly referenced The Raid during this entire review and that can’t really be helped considering that it shares at least three actors from this flawless action sequel and massive props have to be given to Joe Taslim (about to blow up thanks to his casting as Sub-Zero in the upcoming Mortal Kombat reboot), Iko Uwais and Julie Estelle (Raid 2’s Hammer Girl) for being huge fixtures in a film industry that prides itself in showering itself in the results of afflicting more bloody neck trauma on it’s actors than a decade’s worth of vampire movies.
What it lacks in orginal plot, The Night Comes For Us more than makes up for it in creative killing and while that won’t be to everybody’s tastes, this jaded old gore hound loved every, juicy, recoil-inducing minute.