On the Job Blu-ray Review
Written by Michel Sabourin
Blu-ray released by Well Go USA
Directed by Erik Matti
Written by Erik Matti and Michiko Yamamoto
2013, Region A, 101 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on February 11th, 2014
Piolo Pascual as Francis Coronel, Jr.
Gerald Anderson as Daniel Benitez
Joel Torre as Mario 'Tatang' Maghari
On the Job is a powerful thriller in a very The Departed kind of way. A gritty film about a bunch of incarcerated felons, released temporarily to commit crimes, mostly assassinations, and then returned to jail. It's a perfect crime, because who would suspect someone who has been already locked up? Plus, the whole judicial system is corrupt from the lowly desk sergeants all the way to the president of the country. No one can be trusted, and all those who are liabilities are systematically erased from the picture.
Tatang, one of the killers, approaches his release date and the hope of full-time work with excitement, only to learn he is being 'retired' and his young backup will be taking over. Unfortunately, in their line of work, the retirement parties usually end in funerals. And even though young Daniel promises he could never hurt his mentor, Tatang is weary. Meanwhile, the political powers play games with the criminals as pawns and the police as their playthings. Embittered sergeant Joaquin Acosta, played with soul-crushing perfection by Joey Marquez, is a good man in a bad system living in a bad time, who refuses to compromise or give in to the way things are.
The plots and subplots to this movie are so well written and intertwined that you want to watch it several times just to make sure you caught it all. The acting is top notch and the violence is all too real. There is a knife fight sequence that I swear looks like they really killed an extra. Even the music chosen to underscore segments is note perfect. If I have any complaint, it's that I wish the whole movie were in English so I wouldn't miss moments reading the subtitles.
I would highly recommend On the Job to fans of crime dramas and mafia movies. It has a very hopeless feel, but it doesn't drag the film down at all. If anything, that feeling that anything can happen and anyone is vulnerable makes you that much more gripped by the action. It also boasts a relative metric ton of surprises, twists, turns, and "Oh shit!" moments that crescendo to a what-the-what-just-happened ending. After I picked my jaw back up off the floor, I watched it again.
Video and Audio:
Presented in 16:9 widescreen format with a crystal clear picture, even in the darker parts of the movie, making sure the audience can see all the action. The movie is shot beautifully, even if the places it captures aren't.
The movie is in Filipino with English subtitles. The soundtrack is pretty spectacular and the score really heightens the tensions and action sequences. Sometimes the dialog seemed a bit soft, but since I was using the subtitles anyway, it wasn't a big deal at all.
Special features included on the disc are about 30 minutes of deleted scene, making-of featurettes, interviews with cast and crew, and trailers for the movie. Nothing that adds any real value, but nice for people who want to see more.