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On the Job: Gangster melodrama feels marinated in hardscrabble reality

On the Job: Filipino crime thriller inspired by a real-life scandal in which prison inmates are temporarily released from prison to work as contract killers on behalf of politicians and high ranking military officials.

3 out of 4 stars

Title
On the Job
Written by
Erik Matti and Michiko Yamamoto
Directed by
Erik Matti
Starring
Joel Torre, Gerald Anderson and Piolo Pascual
Country
Philippines
Language
Filipino
Year
2013

Erik Matti's intense Manila-set gangster melodrama opens with the shooting death of a man on the midday streets.

The middle-aged shooter, Tatang (Joel Torre), is the mentor to a young thug, Daniel (Gerald Anderson). Both men turn out to be prison inmates, illicitly sprung each time a hit is required by powerful interests, who give the payments to their families.

Meanwhile, National Bureau of Investigation detective Sgt. Acosta (Joey Marquez) tries to solve the crime, while attempting to guide rookie cop, Francis (Piolo Pascual). Francis's marriage into a prominent political family should ensure his future if he can only learn to compromise.

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Set in condos, slums, government offices and a teeming squalid prison, On the Job feels marinated in hardscrabble reality. Action scenes throughout are unnervingly frenetic, with the tension amplified by the sheer density of the crowds.

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About the Author
Film critic

Liam Lacey is a film critic for The Globe and Mail. More

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