Lately, Philippine action films have been serving up grit, grime, blood, and tough as nails action heroines. We had one in Anne Curtis’ Nina Manigan in “Buy Bust”, and here, in “We Will Not Die Tonight”, we have Erich Gonzales’ stuntwoman Kray. Shot in only eight days, this film has an interesting premise, a great lead in Gonzales, with some good fight sequences and interesting play with light and shadows; but at times is also downright messy, with derivative music and dialogue and editing that makes it feel like an ordinary B movie at times.
“We Will Not Die Tonight” is directed and written by Richard Somes, and had its world premiere just recently as the opening film at the recently concluded New York Asian Film Festival. It just recently premiered here, in the Philippines, as it is part of the ongoing “Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino” (Festival of Filipino Films), which will run from August 15 to 21, 2018.
I chose to watch this one as I wanted something out of my comfort zone, and something that wasn’t the usual staple fare in Philippine cinema- the quirky romantic comedy, the feel good film, the topical political film, the romantic film, or the (family) drama. So, given the choices that were laid out in front of me, and because I thought that the trailer and premise were interesting, I decided to give this one a go.
“We Will Not Die Tonight” follows the very underpaid stuntwoman Kray (Erich Gonzales), who reunites with some old friends, and an old flame who claims that he has a “one time big time” job that will pay well. However, after discovering that the job isn’t one that they can stomach- kidnapping street children for a gang of organ harvesters, all hell breaks loose as the gang hunts them down to an abandoned school, where they struggle to survive the night.
Erich Gonzales has great presence and intensity on the screen not only as a leading lady, but as an action heroine as well. She is very much at the core of the film, and pulls off everything well, including the bits which I found derivative.
The rest of the cast were just okay, and I wish that the other members of the core group were given a just a little bit more personality.
The entire film was dimly lit, which, was fine, except for the moments in which fight sequences were taking place with some shaky cam and disjointed editing, which made things seem a bit messy and confusing. The editing wasn’t that smooth either as there were some sudden edits that weren’t edited in smoothly, which made one or two moments feel a bit jarring. However, I did like how they lit some scenes, and how they played with shadow and light at times.
My biggest nitpicks in the movie have to do with the script, as sometimes, the lines just sounded too derivative or they just added in lines so that the others would have something to say; and the slo mo parts were felt a little campy.
The rock music gave it a nice flavor, and the fast paced music added tension; but the emotional midi file-esque music was too jarring and inconsistent for me.
In the end, “We Will Not Die Tonight” proved that Gonzales can hold her own as an action star, and is a film that had a lot of potential but overall failed to live up to it.
Now, you know the drill, from here on out, there will be spoilers!
The story of the film is pretty straightforward, and I did like the fact that even though all it took was twenty five minutes or so to set everything up, all the backstory that you needed to know was there. It was also interesting to see that despite their willingness to do some illegal jobs, although they are reluctant to do so, every single member of the group does have a line that they don’t cross, especially when in exchange for much needed cash.
The addition of the little girl to the group during after all hell breaks loose was supposed to give them something more to fight for, but more often than not, she was little more than a plot device and became too annoying at a certain point.
As I mentioned earlier, some parts of the script and music were a bit too much. I think that they should have just stuck with the rock and fast paced music to give it more consistency. As for the script, sometimes, I felt that there were some lines that didn’t need to be there. A couple of extra “Let’s go, follow me” lines, and extra lines on how they will skin our core group when they catch them, weren’t really needed at all. I still don’t know what to think of the use of choral music I’m certain scenes, but I can be a bit more open minded to that than the other bits of music in it.
As mentioned earlier, the use of light and shadow was good, but that plus the shaky cam didn’t really let us see the fight sequences that much, making it very messy and confusing, and it wasn’t helped by the jarring editing. For example, before they entered the abandoned school, they had a street scene with a lot of slashing and hacking but I couldn’t figure out who was still alive or dead and then somehow they all managed to escape that mayhem. Another instance is when Cheche (Max Eigenmann) is alone, slowly and quietly looking around with some soft piano music in the background, and then there’s a jarring cut in the which the members of the gang are suddenly there, and there’s a big difference in the overall sound and the background music. I also didn’t like the slo mo emotional sequences.
However, there were some action moments that were well done, and while Cheche, Jonesky (Thou Reyes), and Ramil (Alex Vincent Medina) had their moments as well, the best ones had Kray in them. In particular, that sequence on the stairs in which she fought off around three thugs, when she choked one thug with barbed wire after jumping on him, and every moment when she landed her hits when she used a knife or sword purposefully.
As mentioned earlier, I really enjoyed Gonzales in this movie, as she had great presence and an intensity to her performance. It also probably helped that they only had eight days to shoot it. I also liked that even though Kray’s as tough as Cheche, she’s much smarter when it comes to her choices of when to strike and when to bide her time.
I also found it interesting that in both “Buy Bust” and in this film, the female lead is the one that survives, and has to just continue on surviving, even though they have escaped a night of hell. Manigan will most probably continue being a cop, and Kray, despite her injuries, shows up on set again for another stint as a stunt double in a movie. I find it telling as well, because it shows how Filipinas are tough and have to be resilient enough to go through hell and back in order to survive.
“We Will Not Die Tonight” , in my opinion, failed to live up to expectations, but is still an enjoyable film at times, and has a great performance from Erich Gonzales.
Have you seen “We Will Not Die Tonight” ? What did you think of it? What other Asian action films do you love? Let me know what you think in the comments below!
Image Source: We Will Not Die Tonight Facebook Page