Fringe With Benefits: THE NIGHT COMES FOR US Is A Standout Beautifully Bloody Action Flick
FRINGE WITH BENEFITS is a rotating column here at Ghastly Grinning that seeks to highlight films that aren't necessarily "horror" but cross into the realm through the periphery. Taking a look at the disturbing, fantastic, and macabre, FRINGE WITH BENEFITS ensures to be a pleasant addition to any genre lovers pallet.
If there’s anything that gets me more excited than seeing a great new horror movie, it’s seeing a great new action movie. I love this close cousin to the horror genre dearly, but it can be somewhat rare to find one that really wows you. A few years ago, we actually did get that with Gareth Evans’s game-changer The Raid: Redemption, and its sequel The Raid 2. And now we have the Netflix original The Night Comes for Us. If you were a fan of The Raid films, I’d say hold onto your hats while you watch Night, as it is all the best parts of The Raid TIMES TEN for pretty much the entirety of its two-hour runtime.
Martial artist and The Raid star Iko Uwais returns in this tale about a deadly group of killers within the Triad drug syndicate. These four men and two women, known as the Six Seas, are willing to go far beyond what most criminals do. But one of the Six Seas, Ito (Joe Taslim), suddenly has a change of heart when faced with killing the lone survivor of a village massacre - a young girl named Reina. He turns on his own to save her, and now an army of assassins is out to hunt Ito down for his betrayal, including his old friend Arian (Uwais).
Writer and director Timo Tjahjanto, who gave us the stellar anthology segment “Safe Haven” in V/H/S 2, was the perfect person to take the reins on Night. The fight sequences in this film are long, involved, complicated, and downright insane with the brutality and effects on display. Tjahjanto brilliantly ensures that you don’t miss a single second of any of it, with often very long takes that follow the action as if the audience were standing in the room with the fighters. Sometimes the camera will flip upside down and right side back up again as a character is flung around during a fight. Despite all the craziness happening on screen, the cinematography still manages to completely shine through and make this frenetic film even more enjoyable to watch.
And those fight scenes, oh, those fight scenes. We’re talking many broken arms and necks, many slit throats, and many improvised weapons used in fantastic ways - pool balls and cow bones, for instance. We’re talking guns and machetes and cattle prods. If you think the first scene is as dirty and intense as it’s going to get, just wait. There’s more than enough blood sprayage, and even some intestines, to satisfy our love for the red stuff. It’s complete and utter insanity, with so many “holy shit” moments throughout that it should make any action fan, or horror fan, giddy. I’d say there are three really standout sequences to watch for: the fight between the three female assassins; the fight with Ito and about 20 other guys in a warehouse; and the absolutely fucking legendary final fight between Ito and Arian. It’s already legendary. I’m calling it now.
It seems impossible that a human could survive more than a minute in any of these fights considering everything that happens in them. But I’m not entirely convinced that these fighters are even human to begin with, as their bodies are capable of a kind of speed and agility that I can barely fathom. And that to me is the most enthralling thing about watching these scenes: not to see what cool gag they can pull off next, but to truly appreciate the skill of these athletes. The martial art on display here is the pencak silat style of Indonesia, and believe me when I say that it is an ART. It’s mesmerizing to watch these men and women perform this complicated choreography, and I have nothing but complete awe and respect for what they are able to do.
These performers are of course not only notable for their fight skills in the film, but also their acting ability as well. There is a wonderful cast of characters in Night, with complicated yet loving relationships. Joe Taslim carries it all wonderfully as Ito, and it hurts to watch him go through everything he does just to protect this little girl. His gang of odd but loyal friends who fight with him against the Triad also bring something memorable to the table. The cocaine addict Bobby, played by Zack Lee, imbues his scenes with a real fierceness and energy that drives the overall mood. Though Iko Uwais is not as prominent as I would have liked, his character is still central to the plot. It was great to see him play a bit of a bad guy for a change, and it is no wonder why he quickly became so beloved among fans.
I was super happy to see the three main female characters get the kind of screen time they deserve. Alma and Elena are the two women Six Seas members played to perfection by Dian Sastrowardoyo and Hannah Al Rashid. They are quirky but undeniably deadly, each with their own unique weapon, look, and personality. Julie Estelle, who also appears in The Raid 2, is the mysterious woman known as The Operator. She has a similar journey as Ito, shifting loyalties when confronted with a moral dilemma, and has equally incredible skill as the rest of the cast. As mentioned above, the fight between these three women is one of the best in the movie, and only made me want to see even more of them. Even little Reina has her chance to get in on the action, as well.
The Night Comes for Us is easily one of the best action flicks in recent memory. It has an incredibly heightened level of violence, performed by true masters of the art. It is fast-paced and intense throughout, and yet still manages to top itself over and over again with each new scene of brutal brawling. You honestly haven’t seen anything quite like this. My only hope is that enough people do actually see it and love it, and that we get many more films like it in the future.