Streaming algorithms can cause many great movies to slip through the cracks, but if you are an action junkie there is one Netflix movie you should absolutely not miss. In 2018, Indonesian action & horror filmmaker Timo Tjahjanto reunited the stars of Gareth Evans‘ hit action film The Raid for The Night Comes for Us. The film is a neon-lit, stylish barrage of fists, knives, and gunfire throughout the criminal underworld of Indonesia’s largest city, heightened to a degree that will feel familiar to fans of the later John Wick films which exist in a reality where brutality appears to be accepted as a status quo.
The film follows Joe Taslim as Ito, a former Triad who saved a young child from a gang massacre and is now being hunted by his former associates. Iko Uwais portrays Arian, a man who has been contracted to hunt Ito for an opportunity to further his own criminal career status. Throughout Ito’s race through the city of Jakarta, he encounters gang members, hired assassins, and corrupt police officers armed to the teeth. The film takes Ito from one bloodbath to another in an increasingly shocking, NC-17-worthy showcase of martial arts mastery and action thrills.
‘The Night Comes for Us’ Pushes the Boundaries of Action Filmmaking
From the opening moments, The Night Comes for Us is a dark, unrelenting action story. The violence on screen is captured in its full brutality with a greater emphasis on gore than some viewers may be accustomed to. Many of the action sequences feature gnarly visual effects, with limbs, knives, and bullets flying throughout every frame of the many massive set pieces. This is the kind of film where the plot almost feels reverse-engineered from a brainstorm of action scenes. Every choice of character and setting serves only to deliver another brutal fight sequence.
American action movies have tended to rely on quick cutting and shaky camerawork to obscure the stunt work and production design. That is, if they are even the kinds of films that do showcase stunt work and physical sets, as key set pieces in major action films today often have environments or characters rendered with CGI instead of using real performers in real locations.
The Night Comes for Us is incredibly heightened in terms of the presentation of these action sequences, but it feels grounded by the fact that the performers are there actually doing these moves. The camerawork emphasizes the martial arts expertise of Taslim, a gold medalist in competitive judo, and Uwais, an expert in the Indonesian form of Pencak silat.
The top-of-the-line hand-to-hand combat is performed remarkably well by these actors, and scenes involving weaponry feel more varied than your conventional action flick because of the types of weapons used on screen. Traditional Pencak silat weapons are often utilized in the film, but one of the highlights is wielded by Dian Sastrowardoyo, portraying the mysterious and alluring Triad enforcer Alma. Alma’s weapon of choice can best be described as a yo-yo with razor wire in place of a string, and she uses it to slash limbs, throats, and anything else that gets in her way.
‘The Raid 3’ May Not Happen, But ‘The Night Comes for Us’ Is a Worthy Spiritual Successor
The Raid has become a fan-favorite action film, a great doorway to Asian action cinema that can expand the horizons of people who primarily watch English-language media. The film spawned a popular sequel, and talks of a third movie have been happening ever since. In a 2020 interview with Empire, director Evans explained what his idea for this film would have looked liked while also clarifying that he has no intention of returning to make the film.
Tjahjanto, who worked with Evans on a segment of V/H/S/2, crafted his own action epic and enlisted the stars of The Raid to fulfill his vision. Although a third film may not ever materialize, fans of the series can experience an original story that is unique but very much in harmony with The Raid.
The stylistic differences between these films do echo a similar trajectory found in the John Wick franchise, which began with a colder, less vibrant aesthetic before evolving into something more colorful and neon-infused. Some viewers may prefer a more grounded visual palette, but those who enjoy their action heightened and stylized will find The Night Comes for Us to be an exciting watch.
‘The Night Comes for Us’ Introduces Characters Worthy of Their Own Spinoffs
The heroine of the film, an unnamed biker assassin who holds the title of “The Operator,” is given many great action sequences, performed remarkably by Julie Estelle. Estelle portrayed a character known as Hammer Girl in Evans’ The Raid 2, and added as much to her appearance in The Night Comes For Us as she did in that film. Tjahjanto has expressed a willingness to make a spinoff film about her character, Night of the Operator, but 2020 was the last time there was any update about the progression of that idea. Netflix is continuing to work with Tjahjanto on an upcoming action film, so one can hope that its success may allow him to flesh out the grimy, stylish universe of The Night Comes for Us.
In addition to The Operator, the film offers memorable and unique characters in the form of assassins, crime lords, and gangsters who could easily have their stories fleshed out in a prequel, sequel, spin-off, etc. if Tjahjanto’s film sparked a franchise similar to John Wick or other popular action series. Indonesian cinema is a growing industry, and Netflix is already investing in new films and TV from many Indonesian filmmakers, so continuing to work with Tjahjanto on this series is a no-brainer. The lore of The Night Comes for Us makes clear that there are many areas to explore in this world if only Netflix would give it the green light and allow the expansion of one of its best original films.