Director: Erik Matti
Cast: Piolo Pascual, Gerald Anderson, Joel Torre, Joey Marquez, Angel Aquino, Michael De Mesa, William Martinez, Raver Cruz
Screenplay: Erik Matti & Michiko Yamamoto
Grit, grit, and more grit. “One the Job” does not fail to keep you at the edge of your seat as one of the top Filipino masterworks of the year. It most definitely gets the award for the most macho Filipino film of the decade though, as Erik Matti brings together a group of superb male actors to bring to life the corrupt streets of Manila, based on a true story that is finally shared and told through the visionary director’s eyes.
Told in Scorsese-like fashion, Matti and Yamaoto pens the screenplay, that tells the story of two prisoners, Daniel and Tatang (played by the young Gerald Anderson and veteran actor Joel Torre), who have a special arrangement with corrupt members of the government. Though locked up in the a local jail, the two are given special consideration and are released whenever their “Big Boss” has a hit for them to do. On the other side of the tracks is Piolo Pascual, who plays Atty. Francis Coronel Jr., a good guy, battling with his morals to be a part of his father-in-law’s suspicious schemes in slowly taking over the Philippine government with his cronies. The film turns into a cat-and-mouse game of hunting down the hit men. Along for the ride is policeman, Joaquin Acosta (Joey Marquez), who turns the case into a rather personal one after the murder of one of his old friends.
What I love about the movie is that it’s not afraid to be daring. It touches on the subject of corruption, which is obviously not done very much here in the Philippines. This is all thanks to director Erik Matti, who most definitely is the right man, with the right amount of balls to tell such a compelling story. He doesn’t only do it with co-writer Michiko Yamamoto, but with a group of veteran and also new actors that properly brought Matti’s extraordinary visual to life.
Torre, will always be a talented actor. His performance in the film was pitch perfect for me. With age and grace, he killed the role with tremendous strength, wiseness and well-crafted acting that speaks volumes to audiences. Gerald Anderson impressed me so much, just as much as he surprised me. The young star has made numerous movies in his career, but nothing like this. His naivety, self-important but also gracious behaviour in the start of the film, makes you question his character’s will and success by the end of the film. He also becomes interesting to watch, and see unwind with a set of traits so special and unusually grouped together. He was the perfect actor to do this because we finally see his capability as an artist. He must continue doing movies like this. Marquez provided comic relief, but let’s not forget that the man is also very skilled. Despite his role’s call for funny lines and vulgar language, his dramatic scenes were equally as strong, making him the most layered character from the bunch.
Matti’s vision is Scorsese-like. I’m not trying to put down his way of filmmaking, because duh, I loved it. I don’t mean that to insult the director’s personal style in any way, but what I mean is that he understands the intensity and grit of the film without overdoing it, just like Scorsese does. I mean this in the highest respect, because Scorsese is my favourite Western director. Matti showed what he had to, to keep us interested and scared of the world out there. His fast cuts and wonderful eye for visuals made the movie what it is. This is in fact his baby, and stands as a wonderful piece of local cinema. His direction pulled the film together. Not to mention, how well he truly brought out the talents of the actor’s he casted. This man is an actor’s director, in addition to a visionary, and can bring out the best in the male-centered ensemble, that rests to be one of the strongest production teams of the year. Applause, for a piece of art that Filipinos can be proud to show off.