Arisaka: Movie Review

With powerful acting and even stronger visuals, Mikhail Red's "Arisaka" is one film that was exhilirating as it was moving. But we must admit, the film's outstanding form was mostly skin deep and frustratingly, the film's social justice spin needed a lot of more development to really be effective.
A clean cop who has her principles, Mariano (Maja Salvador) is tasked to safely escort a vice mayor who is about to break news about powerful people who are involved on illegal drugs. But the convoy is ambushed and Mariano is the sole survivor. Soon, the clean-up crew discovers that she has survived and decides to hunt her down. Mariano must find a way to survive at all costs. 
Like his previous works, "Arisaka" had its visuals as one of its strongest points. This film was simply beautiful and exquisite to look at. Some shots were simply jaw-dropping not only on how beautiful they were but the artistic implications it had regarding the film's messaging. This for us was probably Mikhail Red's best work yet in terms of cinematography and given his previous works, you know that this was no easy feat to achieve. "Arisaka" will feel like its a foreign film and its featuring a foreign place but it 100% Filipino-based which was simply amazing in our opinion. 
But even stronger than its visuals, the film will be defined by the acting performances of Maja Salvador and Mon Confiado. Maja Salvador was a revelation as we usually see her in more romance or comedic oriented roles but she was able to transform herself into the honest, vulnerable, yet gritty Mariano. Mon Confiado was just despicable as the villain and you'll have to see his performance yourself to really appreciate how disturbing, cruel, and scary he was in this film. Unfortunately, "Arisaka" falls short with its heavily-implied social justice messaging. There's going to be topics that revolve around drugs, corruption, Aetas, and more. These are relevant topics but we felt that these needed more time and more scenes to really be integrated well into the film's narrative. These felt forced and too heavy-handed that it really stops the momentum that was being built-up. Don't let these shortcomings stop you from watching "Arisaka". This was still a powerful and exhilirating experience nonetheless.    
Rating: 4 reels

Why you should watch it:
- outstanding cinematography
- Maja Salvador and Mon Confiado had award-worthy performances here

Why you shouldn't watch it:
- the social justice aspects felt forced and half-baked
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