BuyBust (2018) Review



It takes a while to get going but BuyBust is not short on action or bodycount and is one of the most brutally entertaining action movies of the year.

Plot: After surviving the slaughter of her entire squad in a drug raid compromised by dirty cops, anti-narcotics special operative Nina Manigan (Anne Curtis), is eager to go head-to-head with the drug cartels that hold a bloody grip on Manila. But when her new mission in the city’s most dangerous slum goes south, the angry civilians turn on her squad. Trapped between a brutal drug gang and hordes of bloodthirsty citizens, their only option is to fight their way out, turning one claustrophobic street at a time into a symphony of apocalyptic violence.

Review: Eric Matti directs this brutally effective actioner inspired by a real-life campaign against illegal drugs in the Philippines. Several people involved in the film have been killed since its completion including Chekie Llerin who was a PDEA consultant assigned to provide the movie with insight into what goes on in the drug war there. Chekie was gunned dunned outside his home after an anniversary dinner with his wife.

The movie BuyBust deals with themes of police corruption where nobody is truly good or bad; there are shades of grey from the start so you know this isn’t going to be predictable genre fare.

Everything in BuyBust feels like it could happen and at no point does it ever really stretch credibility. It’s a visceral assault on the senses with regular intervals of graphic violence. There is a feeling of genuine chaos throughout as a group of cops get trapped in Manila’s most dangerous slum where everyone is out to get them.

At times it feels more like a horror movie than an action flick and will have you on the edge of your seat as the tension builds to unbearable levels. The first half hour actually doesn’t have much in the way of action as it sets everything up and establishes the characters but I urge you to stick with it as it’s worth the wait.

Initially Manigan isn’t particularly sympathetic as she seems to have a problem obeying orders from her superiors. As the story progresses we understand why and she becomes one of the best female protagonists in years. She can be ruthless with her enemies but will do whatever she can to try and save her team members from this nightmare which they may not escape.

My faviourite character however, is Rico (Brandon Vera) who believes he is invincible with his necklace on and proceeds to take out foes with any weapon available; a personal highlight features some garden sheers put to imaginative use…

Our villain Chongki (Levi Ignacio) is one of the most hateful bastards you’ll see on screen this year as he is merciless to anyone who gets in his path even killing random civilians just to make a point.

At times it does get a little too overly crazy and I struggled to make out what was going on but it really only added to the sense of threat and impending violence which can (and does) happen at any moment.

Once the action kicks in it doesn’t let up with brutal fight scenes featuring knives, guns and whatever people can get their hands on.

Overall, BuyBust takes a while to get going but it’s still one of the best action movies of the year with brutally effective action scenes and a genuine sense of chaos and threat throughout. At times it’s hard to make out what’s going so it’s not quite up on the same level as The Raid but there’s enough action and violence to keep fans satisfied.