On the Job (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
February 16, 2014 by Dennis Amith
Gritty, dark, violent but engrossing, Erik Matti’s “On the Job” is wonderful Filipino cinema and is highly recommended!
© 2013 Reality Entertainment, Inc. and ABS-CBN Film Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: On the Job
FILM RELEASE: 2013
DURATION: 115 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Tagalog DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English subtitles
COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment
RATED: Not Rated
Release Date: February 11, 2014
Directed by Erik Matti
Written by Erik Matti, Michiko Yamamoto
Produced by Erik Matti
Post-Production Producer: Kristina Syfu
Music by Erwin Romulo
Cinematography by Ricardo Buhay III
Edited by Jay Hailili
Production Design by Richard Somes
Piolo Pascual and Francis Coronel, Jr.
Gerald Anderson as Daniel Benitez
Joel Torre as Mario “Tatang” Maghari
Joey Marquez as Sergeant Joaquin Acosta
Angel Aquino as Lolet
Michel De Mesa as Manrique
William Martinez as Rex
Shaina Magdayao as Nicky Coronel
Vivian Velez as Thelma
Dawn Jiminez as Diana
Empress Schuck as Tina
When a prominent drug dealer is murdered, Sergeant Acosta (Joey Marquez) and Federal agent Francis (Piolo Pascual) lead the investigation, but the trail goes immediately cold. What they discover is a conspiracy of massive scale: the killers (Joel Torre and Gerald Anderson) are inmates, temporarily released from jail as assassins before returning to incarceration.
In the Philippines, when it comes to entertainment, a lot of the films are typically comedy, drama or politically driven.
And for Filipino film and television production company Star Cinema (ABS-CBN Film Productions, Inc.), they have produced some of the top grossing films of all time in the Philippines such as “Anak”, “Tanging Yaman”, war film “Bagong Buwan”, “Dekada ’70”, “Nasaan Ka Man”, “In My Life” and their highest grossing film of all time, “It Takes a Man and a Woman”.
But in 2013, to celebrate Star Cinema’s 20th year anniversary, the studio wanted to feature a big budget action film. And so, the studio tapped director/writer Erik Matti (“Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles”, “The Arrival”) to write the film.
“On the Job” would star Piolo Pascual (“Don’t Give Up on Us”, “Milan”, “Every Breath You Take), Gerald Anderson (“Maala mo kaya”, “Princess and I”), Joel Torre (“Kabisera”, “The Diplomat Hotel”, Lorenzo’s Time”) and Joey Marquez (“Maalaala mo kaya”, “Raketeros”, “Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles”).
While the film was not a commercial success (as action films are very rare in the Philippines), the film received positive reviews from film critics all over the world and the film was screened at the Cannes Film Festival.
And now, “On the Job” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment.
“On the Job” is a story that begins with two assassins, the older Mario “Tatang” Maghari (portrayed by Joel Torre) and the younger Daniel Benitez (portrayed by Gerald Anderson).
Receiving their orders from a mysterious woman named Thelma (portrayed by Vivian Velez), while Daniel creates a diversion, Mario executes his target during a major parade.
During the credits, real news footage of corruption in government and the police are shown and how its been a continued problem in the Philippines.
We learn that Mario and Daniel are assassins recruited by Thelma but in conjunction with working with a corrupt warden, they bring out prisoners and give them a chance to make some money in order to give back to their families but then bring them back to prison, so their is no traceable crime as the killers can’t murder if they are already in prison.
Mario’s family rarely see him, as he tells him that he works out of the country but is there to give them money. He has been away for so long that he is caught off guard when he finds out his daughter is now 24-years-old and is now dating. While Daniel also lives a lie, pretending to work in Cebu and sending his mother money.
But for Daniel, he looks up to Mario as a father figure, outside in the real world when they are assassins but also in the prison as the two have a father and son relationship.
Meanwhile, as the murders continue to escalate, Atty. Francis Coronel, Jr. (portrayed by Piolo Pascual) of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has been hired to solve the case about these murders and take the files from Sgt. Joaquin Acosta (portrayed by Joey Marquez).
Sgt. Acosta has been working on his own, believing their is police corruption at the highest level, and feels he is coming closer to finding out who is orchestrating these murders, thanks to the drug dealers he has come in contact with. But while he is forced to give up his files to Atty. Francis Coronel Jr., he is very wary of doing so.
As for Francis, he is a 32-year-old NBI agent who is the son of a well-known agent who may have been corrupt and has since passed away. He is married to Nicky Coronel (portrayed by Shaina Magdayao), daughter of Congressman Manrique (portrayed by Michael de Mesa), who is also working alongside General Pacheco (portrayed by Leo Martinez).
But when both Tatang and Daniel are given their next mission to assassinate Paul (portrayed by Leo Pimentel), Paul gives detail of the highest level of corruption in the police, suggesting that General Pacheco and Congressman Manrique are involved in corruption, along with the help of corrupt wardens, prisoners from various prisons are used as assassins and then returned, so murders can not be traced.
But when Sgt. Acosta gives this information to Francis, a man who is dedicated to justice and following the law, what happens when he finds out his father-in-law and the people he knows, are the people involved in the corruption and the murders than have been taking place in the city. Will he follow their lead and let the corruption continue? Or will he sacrifice his life, his career and his marriage for his dedication to the law of the land?
“On the Job” is presented in 1080p High Definition. Picture quality for the film is fantastic. Close-ups show great detail on the faces of the characters, great location shots and lighting! Skin tones are natural, I didn’t notice any artifacts or banding. Great PQ!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“On the Job” is presented in Tagalog 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The lossless soundtrack is crystal clear as dialogue can be heard, action sequences utilize the surround channels, but also a lot of ambiance. May it be two men talking in the office or in a crowded hospital, you often hear the surround channels utilizing the environment and ambiance which was awesome!
Subtitles are in English.
“On the Job” comes with the following special features:
- Making – (6:37) Interviews with the cast of “On the Job”.
- Deleted Scenes – (37:52) Deleted scenes from “On the Job”.
- Trailer – (2:07) Theatrical trailer for “On the Job”.
“On the Job” comes with a slipcover.
As a Filipino-American, I was raised watching Filipino cinema. But “On the Job” is the first Blu-ray release of a Filipino film that I have reviewed and is the first Filipino film that I have seen released commercially in the United States (as most of the Filipino films I have watched are from DVD’s you have to purchase from a Filipino grocery store or via The Filipino Channel).
And while many Filipino films are typically are comedy, romantic comedies, dramas or political/war films, “On the Job” is indeed a rarity to see coming from the Philippines.
American action films (especially superhero or “Transformers” films) are huge as in the Philippines but as for Philippine action films, it hasn’t really been explored in a big budget capacity until the 20th anniversary of Star Films and with this 2013 film “On the Job”.
While the film was not a commercial success in the Philippines, it was a film that received international attention because this type of film rarely makes it out of the country.
The film explores the corruption in the Philippines and unlike Filipino films that explore love, hope and at least has laughter, this is a gritty, dark and violent film that may be a true reflection of what happens in the Philippines.
I’m not an erudite on Filipino politics or corruption but I do know that watching news shows (ala TFC) each time I visit family, you read about politicians being murdered, high ranking people being murdered and since I was a child, I was first aware of the corruption since Benigno Aquino, Jr. was assassinated. And the level of corruption became internationally known right after the recent typhoon and earthquake disaster in the Philippines.
But I have always questioned to many Filipinos, why is there corruption? Why can’t it be stopped? Why is it when a President is voted in and vows to stop corruption, they become among the names of the highest level of corruption. And with “On the Job”, even though fictional, it does give an idea of what does transpire in the country.
Prisoners with the help of corrupt politicians, hired to assassinate people for money and right after the job, they are returned back to prison, so the crime can’t be traced.
Police who are aware of the corruption, work with the warden and various political people in power to execute certain assassinations and if anything, the storyline made me feel bitter because it does give us a look of how ingrained the corruption is. From politicians, business leaders, lawmakers, law enforcement, when these certain corrupt individuals, they are colluding together to be in power and it makes them an impenetrable force that those who follow the law, have a tough time fighting against.
There is no doubt that “On the Job” is an engrossing thriller unlike I have ever seen from the Philippines before and while I wish more films like this were created and distributed worldwide, I also know that the country thrives on romantic comedies and dramas. It’s part of the Filipino culture, they tend to have a happy (or very sad) ending but they are box office champions, where as “On the Job”, didn’t do well commercially in the Philippines and it’s a shame.
Actor Piolo Pascual did a fantastic job in this film and its a side of him that I rarely see. Often on television, whether he is singing on the Filipino music show ASAP as part of “The Hunks” or on some romantic drama series, this is a film in which the actor was able to show a different side of his acting career and while it may not be his most successful, it’s probably a film that will make him more internationally known.
The other fantastic performance was from Joel Torre as Mario “Tatang” Maghari, an aging prisoner who is a professional assassin. The actor gives a wonderful performance as he not only has to do a few action scenes but also quite a few emotional scenes and he has the most pivotal role in the entire film.
“On the Job” looks fantastic on Blu-ray. Picture quality shows amazing detail for closeups, skin tones are natural, black levels are nice and deep with no sign of any artifacts or banding. The film also utilizes the surround channel for ambiance and during the action scenes and dialogue and sound effects are crystal clear. There is also quite a few special features as well!
Overall, I really do hope that “On the Job” opens the gates for more Filipino cinema to be released internationally. I also hope that more big budget action films, let alone, quality films such as “On the Job” would be made in the Philippines, in hopes for better distribution of Filipino cinema. I have been wanting to see more exposure to Filipino cinema and I really do hope this is a start.
Gritty, dark, violent but engrossing, Erik Matti’s “On the Job” is wonderful Filipino cinema and is highly recommended!
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