30 August 2013

On The Job

Title: On the Job
English Title: On the Job
Country: Philippines
  • English
  • Filipino
Year: 2013
  • Joel Torre
  • Gerald Anderson
  • Piolo Pascual
  • Joey Marquez
  • Angel Aquino
  • Empress Schuck
  • Shaina Magdayao
  • Michael de Mesa
  • Leo Martinez
  • William Martinez
  • Rayver Cruz
  • Al Tantay
  • Lito Pimentel
  • Nino Mulach
  • Michael Flores
  • JM de Guzman

This story is inspired by true events.

Mario 'Tatang' Maghari and Daniel Benitez are walking around a street full of people during a town fiesta. They suddenly stop at a corner, and share meaningful glances with each other. They spot their target, and Tatang moves forward to shoot a person. While there is chaos all around them because of the gun shot, Tatang fires again at his target to ensure that he is dead.

A local news report claims that an anti-crime group is criticizing the local police for the rampant crime in the country. Camera footage shows that some prisoners can leave the prisons, and these prisoners are allegedly professional killers hired by influential people to shoot and kill in exchange for money and their release from jail.

On the Job is a disturbing movie on so many levels, primarily because it is based on true events, and most of the major characters such as the politicians behind the so-called business of killing people and the victims killed in seemingly random shootings are based on real people.

It is undoubtedly infuriating that the military and the police, the very institutions that are established to protect the Filipino people, are behind the rampant crime in the country. And it's quite vexing that ruthless individuals from these institutions are given even more power and influence when they are elected into public office. Perhaps it is unfair to accuse these institutions of foul play, but I think it's rather safe to assume that there are enough cruel individuals from these institutions that keep the never-ending cycle of corruption going.

It is alarming that prisoners who are supposed to be behind bars are allowed to go out of jail and work as professional hit men. These prisoners are also trapped by the ingenious arrangement of those in power because they have to do as they are told or they will be tortured in prison and no one outside the prison walls would even know their plight. It's also frustrating that experienced killers who finally get to leave prison and retire from being assassins are later killed by their apprentices so that they could never reveal the secret trade.

On the Job is a great film, and it is one of the few Filipino movies I would actually recommend to other people. It is a wonderful and  fitting introduction to the Filipino people from all walks of life.

I don't really like how most art films showcase the lives of the country's poor people, although they are admittedly the greater majority, because it doesn't seem to be an apt presentation of the Filipino people. I like how in this production, the lives of the very poor Filipinos are shown together with the elite families and the middle class.

In the same way, it has characters with varying degrees of moral codes and ethical judgments. For instance, Joaquin Acosta does his job as a policeman without succumbing to the widespread corruption but he is not above physically abusing people when interrogating them.

I think it's best to watch On The Job without any prior knowledge, which is how I watched it. My brother wanted me to watch it and after telling me that it's a Filipino movie, I'm embarrassed to admit that I actually declined to watch it a few times.

I'm afraid I haven't really had an extensive positive experience when watching Filipino movies, I mean I could count on my fingers the few films I actually thought were good, hence my abject reluctance. I'm relieved to be proven wrong and I'm encouraged to watch more Filipino movies. Hopefully, I find more good films like this one.

On the Job