Tuesday, September 03, 2013

OTJ: On The Job (Erik Matti, 2013)

Corrupt lawmakers. Diligent NBI agents. Enigmatic sunglass-clad lady. Making a killing at a pork house.

Eerily reminiscent of current headlines, OTJ unveils a corruption scandal so deep and wide it creeps up onto the country's highest level of government. But, your definition of a government may soon change with this film. A shadowy figure arrogantly boasts 'We are the ones running the government. We are the government.'

There are lots of things to admire with OTJ (aka On The Job). Among the top reasons is the excellent acting of the ensemble led by Joel Torre, who plays a fatherly, grizzled mentor to a would-be-assassin. It is heartbreaking to see him cooped up once more in the tinted vehicle. Just when freedom is at hand for Tatang Mario (Torre), the shadowy figures tighten their noose on his neck. They truly have a hold on nearly every one. Those who escaped their clutches and managed to return back to the straight path are soon dispatched with impunity.

Then, there's the bravura opening act set during the Feast of Saint John the Baptist. The assassination scene plunges us into the world of inmates who are released for days to work as hired killers. Years ago, a Cinema One Originals film Layang Bilanggo barely scratched the prisoners-as-assassins concept. OTJ, with a screenplay by Erik Matti and Michiko Yamamoto, presents a meatier take on the hired killing business. Just like the intern Daniel (Gerald Anderson), we get an immersion into the whole, icky pit of political killings. 

In the end, there will be two types of people crawling away from the pit. One set gets gobbled up by all the muck. Their mindset is corruption will stay and might as well dip their dirty fingers on the pot.

The other group is determined to eradicate corruption. These are the people who are willing to sacrifice their marriage and even their lives for change. Stepping out from the shadows, they stand proud on the streets and defiantly raise dirty fingers up in the air. They are not afraid to mess things up.

OTJ is one, big dirty finger pointed towards all corrupt politicians. It is also an entertaining film with amazing action set-pieces.

There is a minor quirk with the film, though. The flag is hanged improperly at the police station. The blue side of the vertical flag should be to the left side of the observer.

Director Matti is a favorite of cinephiles for his visually and stylistic takes on genre films (e.g. Pa-Siyam, Exodus) and unique art films such as a favorite of mine The Arrival. He teamed up with Dondon Monteverde to form Reality Entertainment Inc. With OTJ and Before Midnight, the duo is responsible for bringing to the screens two of the best films I’ve seen this year. With their track record, they can count on me to check out their future projects such as Kung Fu Divas.

1 comment:

  1. Where can I find a link for the full length of this movie. Every links posted when you search for "OJT Full Movie" is not working..