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Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Flick Review: ON THE JOB

9/29/2013 11:28:50 AM

"A likably rough-edged hitmen-vs-cops thriller." 
- Hollywood Reporter.

"Gritty, convoluted but steadily engrossing crime thriller from Filipino genre maven Erik Matti." 

“On The Job, is no doubt, the best action movie at the present era of our (Philippine) cinema.” 

These are the usual words that I used to see from a lot of movie reviews, be it a legitimate critic or just an amateur from the bloggers’ circle. And come to think that noir poetry (or better known as “poverty porn”) is on the roll again, be it a Jessica Hagedorn book or a “Gates Of Hell” remark from Dan Brown.

Positive feedback aside, I used to wonder if Star Cinema marketed the movie enough since they tied-up with Erik Matti and Dondon Monteverede’s Reality Entertainment, the real group behind OTJ’s conceptualization-to-execution plan (and aside from the former’s celebration of their 20th anniversary). That is something I cannot tell since I don’t really watch the shows from channel 2; and since the time I realized the epidemic dumbness of the present mainstream.

But either way, that made my drive for curiosity to watch that film. Good thing that despite the time I only had in my hands (since only local “rom-com” movies and foreign action counterparts do last for more than a month in cinemas) – I still managed to watch “On The Job” at one of those movie houses in Eastwood City (at that moment, OTJ was only shown in 3 theatres – SM Fairview, Robinsons Galleria and Eastwood Cinemas).

Okay, after 121 minutes of thrilling action, I can only come up with a lot of words to tell about this movie.

First, the way Joey Marquez portrayed his role as the aged SPO1 Joaquin Acosta was surprisingly – the standout. Maybe it’s because I used to see him on sitcoms like Palibahasa Lalake and Kool Ka Lang. Despite his “paos” style of expression, he’d just done a stellar job. Very tough stellar task for him, and it looked like he even surpassed the level of Tatang right there. Yes, despite the fact that Joel Torre had more exposure than Joey’s.

Speaking of which, Joel Torre was always an epic badass when it comes to seasoned role-playing. He’s good when he is filling hose shoes. Tatang proved himself once again: and he is a “real evil.”

I wonder why Piolo Pascual can’t be on the typical antagonist shoe. I even remember that he didn’t looked like a kontrabida on that 90s telenovela titled Esperanza. But on the other side, he suited better on that role of that top law-enforcing agent whose been haunted by personal conflicts between his relationship with wife (played by Shaina Magdayao), and political elders (Michael De Mesa and Leo Martinez).

And... oh, some people proclaimed that this teen star is now the “bad boy” of the present Philippine showbiz? Heck! Think again, young idiots. I’d rather give that title to Gerald Anderson. Yes and indeed, Anderson transformed himself from being a typical teenage heartthrob-slash-lover-to Kim Chiu’s counterpart, to a retard (remember Budoy?), and now to a toughie. Daniel, Tatang’s sidekick, had this level of yabang; and at the same time, had the level of frequency to say “(pu)tangina” with mere emphasis. He’s all fired up to become a badass prototype.

The OBB is sick as fuck. Kinda reminds me of the movie The Kingdom, where images of news coverages were taped and tapped to be part of it though not the same style of graphical effects.

These four main characters fight for their job security; something to feed on their stomach as well as to their own respective families.

The story reminded me of what kind of society we had at present – “right logic” was putted aside; it’s like you’re at the middle of the chaotic jungle, you had no resources, and you have to fight like a beast in order for you to be the fittest and in addition, survive the up-coming challenges (and that include the chasers known as “law enforcement”).

It is very unique, and totally different from what we mostly seen in cinemas (unless if you’re like me whom already hated the mainstream for being such a huge bullshit by recycling romantic movies all over and over again). Though on the other side, I think its “international cut” seemed to fare very well than the Manila (and Philippine) version.

Another thing: the business of “corruption.” Killing people is their business. Hiring hardened criminals as contract killers was also a business. Chasing after the former (and failing afterwards) too, was their business. And the cycle rolls over and over again. I think this is what the screenplay-writers are trying to say: no concrete ending; it’s like they’re telling you that life’s a gamble of risks when you’re out there in the streets.

Politically speaking, it (crimes, when associated with other roots of evil such as corruption and poverty) is also a “dirty game.”

Honestly speaking, this flick had a lot to strut – maybe more than just chasing-and-killing-sprees. The movie show how cruel the word “poverty” can really mean. It’s like an everyday struggle for them to cope up to their daily lives – Tatang keeping himself in the business in order for him to have something to feed for his family (even if his wife cheats on him without knowing it).

How he fooled his daughter, making her believe that he got a decent work. How he trained Daniel only to kill the latter’s hopes of being a protégé to the man-hunting business at the end. It’s like a father-son relationship, but not really a “family” type.

How SPO1 Joaquin have to deal with his drug-driven son. Why he should handle the cases that were re-assigned to Francis. And how did the Colonel, Jr. deal with his in-laws whom had been much involved into the dark world of politics and crimes. So, they’re not just there to do some badass shit action. This flick went even deeper than much of our expectations.

Certainly there were lot of reasons and lessons in seeing this film. I can tell you more of it, maybe later on (this entry is going too long already).

Everything I had seen in this film was a total display of “harsh reality bites.” If you’re not used to see horrifying crime-thrillers like OTJ, nine times out of 10 you will say that this movie is “too depressing.” I know, not all of us will appreciate “thugs-versus-cops” flicks like OTJ.

Some scenes were not that poetic as the way they should be. But that’s just minimal. Sometimes when cinematography did not clicked in perfectly, that’s where the essence of story comes out. And I am more of looking on an inner, deeper aspect.

And I also admire the musical scoring of OTJ, which mostly contains songs from Dong Abay. Also, the late Francis M’s “Ayoko sa Dilim.”

I had thought of this: whatever the Asiong Salonga film seems to lack about, OTJ had them all. And I am talking about “impact of brutality” here.

Bottom line: It is like a huge 2-in-1 package: crime and corruption movie at its gritty-yet-best portrayal. No wonder why this movie garnered several awards at the major international screen fest like the 17th Puchon International Fantastic Film Fest at South Korea. Also, “On The Job” had numerous worldwide recognitions such as being part of the 21 feature films on the 2013 Diretor’s Fortnight at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival in France. And some international productions backed-up OTJ in terms of showmanship.

As for that, I commend Direk Erik Matti and his crew for being such a bunch of geniuses and for having those balls to create OTJ. I also salute the actors for this terrific way of expressing how tough life was here at the country. No wonder that this star-studded film was a real blockbuster calibrated (yeah, I mean, “real”).

Certainly this movie served as an eye-opener to several negativities of life here at the Metro nowadays – and that includes the tabloidization of police beat reports and inside those devilish transactions.

I’d like to see how Sean Ellis' Metro Manila will fare up to this one though.

The verdict: 9.6

See also the links which served as additional sources of information prior on making this review.,103340/

On The Job stars Joel Torre, Joey Marquez, Gerald Anderson, and Piolo Pasucal. Also part of the cast were Shaina Magdayao, Michael de Mesa, Leo Martinez, Angel Aquino, Empress Schuck, Rayver Cruz, Rosanna Roces, JM De Guzman, Mon Confiado, Dawn Jimenez, Mark Andaya, William Martinez, Niño Muhlach, and Al Tantay. Screenplay by Michiko Yamamoto and Erik Matti; Music by Erwin Romulo, Produced by Leonard Po, Malou Santos, Charo Santos-Concio (Star Cinema) and Dondon Monteverde (Reality Entertainment); Directed by Erik Matti, On The Job was made possible by Reality Entertainment and Star Cinema. Distributed by Star Cinema (Philippines), Wild Side Films (France),Well Go USA Entertainment(North America), Madman Entertainment(Australia), and XYZ Films (worldwide). 

(Info credits: WIKIPEDIA)

Author: slickmaster | © 2013 september twenty-eight productions


  1. My twin and I, the Switotwins, could not stop talking about this film. Yeh some Asian suspense have this type of editing touch, but man for it to articular our local color with the screenplay awesome! I wish we could make more action films like this.

    1. yeah, same goes for me and several friends of mine. I wish for that to happen, too!

  2. they said it will soon have a foreign remake.. good job pinoys

    1. something I saw at my news feeds in Facebook recently. I'd like to see how it will fare up to this Erik Matti original though.

  3. I want to watch this film. Heard a lot of good feedbacks about OJT.

    1. Me too, be it a legitimate film critic or some of my followers and friends from the social networking world. That convinced me to see this flick. And true enough, I was not disappointed this time around.


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