The Night Comes for Us
Hawk: When The Night Comes for Us first released on Netflix, I finally—after months of fruitless attempts—got my subtitle-averse roommates on the Indonesian action movie train, and they proceeded to devour over half a dozen more in the next two days.
Indonesian martial arts movies are well-known, even in the martial arts genre, for their violence. Flagship fighting style Pencak Silat has been popularized in such films as Merantau and The Raid series and from what I can tell, is less concerned with finding inner serenity than it is with finding the most painful way to cause a compound fracture.
But my God, this pushes the envelope: The Night Comes for Us is two hours of extreme violence rivaling the bloodshed in most horror or slasher films. Bodies are pummeled, impaled, dismembered, crushed, blown up, riddled with bullets, run over, bludgeoned, eviscerated, and otherwise removed from this mortal coil in increasingly creative and brutal ways. What’s more, it’s not uncommon for an important character to receive multiple strikes, slashes and bullets and still lumber on with the fight. This is a fun movie to watch with a group, if only to partake in the loud reactions some of the nastier kills are likely to elicit. Gorehounds are likely to be more than appeased by what easily falls into the “splatter” subgenre of violent cinema. When director Timo Tjahjanto (Headshot) initially struggled to get the film made, he instead adapted the screenplay into a graphic novel before the film finally came to fruition, and the finished cinematic product enjoys the color palate and stylistic flair of the former, with several shots easily worthy of a comic panel.
The story is fairly rudimentary, though still entertaining: Triad enforcer Ito (Joe Taslim), when confronted with the order to slaughter a village including a young child, chooses instead to turn on his brothers and run with the child. On his tail come rising enforcer and former friend Arian (Iko Uwais), a pair of sadistic female assassins Alma (Dian Sastrowardoyo) and Elena (Hannah Al Rashid), and a mysterious mercenary known only as the Operator (Julie Estelle). Redemption is a central theme of the movie, as Ito and his loyal friends race through Ito’s childhood hometown of Jakarta to risk and sometimes sacrifice themselves to protect the girl.
That said, it can be hard to really focus on the story when over the course of a couple of minutes someone gets their throat slashed on a shattered window shortly before another bad guy across the city gets his face obliterated by a grenade to rain chunks down on our hero. The action really is a spectacle: choreographed by The Raid star Iko Uwais, it isn’t quite as stylish as those movies, but trades it off for a desperate brutality. The big difference here is that Iko doesn’t start out as the absolute killing machine that some heroes are in the subgenre, but rather gets some of his messier kills out of necessity and defense. Regardless, The Night Comes for Us is an extremely solid, entertaining and nasty martial arts actioner if you’ve got the stomach to check it out on Netflix.