In the midst of overly-commercialized comedy and independent romance Filipino films comes a gritty, hard-hitting movie that will make you question what you know about certain issues of our society today.
Cue in BuyBust, a film by the award-winning director Erik Matti. It follows the story of a team of drug enforcement agents that attempt to entrap one of the big names in drug trafficking in the country. The mission is going to plan until they find that they are the ones entrapped in the hellish slums of Gracia ni Maria, a barrio in the heart of Tondo, Manila.
The film’s plot, at first, seems like a normal cop movie; action-laden, suspenseful, and aims for a justice boner ending. It is not until the last third of the film will the viewer realize that, “Hey, this isn’t just a movie, it’s a reflection of current affairs!” The line between script and news suddenly blurs, making the viewers contemplate whether the events in the movie are fully based in real life or not.
It also helps that the stellar cast of the film brings to life such characters that many will be able to sympathize with. There is Nina Manigan (played by Anne Curtis, for the first time in a role out of her niche), a disillusioned agent who craves for redemption after her former team was killed in action; Rico Yatco (former MMA fighter Brandon Vera), who seems like a formidable giant in action but is actually a softie; Bernie and Alda Lacson (Victor Neri and Sheenly Gener, respectively), a couple who stays true to their vows as both agents and husband-and-wife; Teban (Alex Calleja), the drug-pusher-turned-informant who just wants protection and safety in exchange for valuable intel; Manok (Joross Gamboa), a crackhead with a knack for improvisation; and a mysterious character, played by Arjo Atayde, who seems to be the root of all the events that took place. There are other characters that play a part in the story, but they are up to you, reader/viewer, to find out.
The rest of the elements of the film, set design, music, and cinematography, are not to be left out and deserves a lot of credit.
On first glance, you think that the set of where BuyBust was shot was an actual slum area when, in fact, it was built from scratch, thanks to the artistry of Michael Español and Roma Regala. The scoring by Malek Lopez and Erwin Romulo was superb (you know me, I am a sucker for a good soundtrack), mixing heavy beats to ethnic Filipino tones, synced to the heartbeats owing to an adrenaline rush. Neil Derrick Bion sets the events in hectic motion with his tracking and shaky shots, enabling the viewer to see the movie as if from their own eyes. Lastly, fight director Sonny Sison didn’t pull the stops on ensuring that the action scenes were honest-to-goodness, sometimes even bordering to snuff.
In short, BuyBust is a complete package. It both entertains and raises awareness. No wonder critics are singing praises for this flick. And, here at DAGeeks, so am I.
BuyBust opens in theaters nationwide today, August 1, 2018.