The fantastical and allegorical sequences are the weak points of ‘BuyBust’. Image Credit: Supplied

Award-winning Filipino director Erik Matti’s action-packed film, BuyBust, is perhaps as polarising as it is as jarring and cynical. It is a statement film by the award-winning director, a critic of the Philippine President. But whichever lens one looks at it from, the film comes as a noteworthy departure from the light-hearted features that currently dominate Philippine cinema.

There are no love stories, love interests or love triangles in this film. Nothing of that sort. Instead, one is treated to two full hours of hard-core action. The director himself describes BuyBust as his “first full-on action film” and his most ambitious project.

BuyBust, which premiered at the New York Asian Film Festival in June, tells of the misfortunes of a rookie police officer, Nina Manigan, played by Anne Curtis, who joins an elite squad of the anti-drug law enforcers. Almost the entire film is set within the space of a few hours during a night-time anti-drug operation in the mazelike interiors of a slum area in Tondo, Manila.

Manigan’s squad is directed to entrap a notorious leader of a drug syndicate operating in the area, but the operation fails miserably, and that is when apocalyptic mayhem is unleashed on the unsuspecting law enforces.

Trapped and massively outnumbered, Manigan’s team attempt to fight their way out of the area, but the odds were simply too great as hordes upon hordes of angry mobs emerge from just about every nook and corner of Tondo.

This is where the film gets somewhat fantastical and jarring as the entire sequence feels like watching a zombie apocalypse movie where the undead charge at the heroes with reckless abandon, except that in this case, there were no mindless zombies but rather ordinary residents — mums, dads, grandpas and grandmas and even young children. This is probably the part that begs the question: what’s the point?

Of course, one will have to really finish the film to reach a realisation that Matti hopes to embed in his viewers. The 47-year-old director, who directed award-winning films On The Job and Honor Thy Father, is certainly quite clever to use the chaos, the unbelievable sequences in the film as a metaphor for his anti-establishment sentiment.

For the film’s lead role, it’s quite refreshing to see Curtis do an action film. BuyBust also features MMA fighter Brandon Vera, who plays a decent job as one of the anti-drug agents.


Don’t miss it!

BuyBust is screening now in the UAE