Posted September 17, 2021 by Mico Orda in Movies/TV



When On the Job graced the screens back in 2013, it became a word of mouth, considering we’ve last seen action movies and its heyday back in 90s, especially those Fernando Poe Jr. movies, On the Job’s procedural narrative that navigate conspiracies on different sides of the law that tackled on sensitive, political subjects that parallel to real life events is an eye-opener that did not shy away from the realities of inner workings of crime and corruption.


And on top of that, the elaborate action sequences in the backdrop of gritty Manila cityscapes featuring Tatang (Joel Torre) and Daniel (Gerald Anderson), prison inmates carrying out assassinations takes it time, but when they carry out the kill order, it can be visceral as it gets: the blood, the scream of the victims would make you move at the edge of your seat especially the MRT chase sequence that resemble to you usually see in a typical Hollywood thriller movies with its quick cuts and building up the tension.

And what’s more intriguing is you get to see the inner workings of the major players of the that move the story forward, director Erik Matti, and screenwriter Michiko Yamamoto weave this plot threads in a way it feels like an orchestrated chess game that makes a layered procedural crime that resembles David Simon’s The Wire that break away the character tropes or stereotypes in way each scene puts the viewer in the confinement within these characters, be it Gen. Pacheco (Leo Martinez), or the hitmen, Matti and Yamamoto craft these scenes without bias and as truthful as possible and explore their psyche.

The 2013 film along it’s sequel,  The Missing 8 (straight out of John Arcilla’s Volpi Cup best actor win at Venice) are re-cut into 6 episodes: first two covers the first film and remaining 4 cover the sequel. Each episode starts with a quote, a titled with a character’s name that indicate the focus and revolve the story. Those who have missed the first film in the cinemas would have the same experience of those who watched it in the cinema, as well as the sequel’s clocking 208-minute cut that was screened in Venice.


The Missing 8’s setting shifts to a provincial town of La Paz, and follows Sisoy Salas (John Arcilla), a bona fide journalist/mayor’s confidant/radio announcer seeks answers after his colleagues at LPN went missing after a night out. The sequel follow the procedural beats from the first film but it takes a slow burn approach.

This time around, it tackles on familiar topics such as press freedom, state killings and some . Erik Matti describes the sequel as his “angriest” film and it shows the unjust, harsh realities of the line of the system but that’s narrative of the Missing 8 stumbles, it becomes a commentary and less of procedural action narrative but it still carry that story beat that makes it different since it’s interesting to pull off a procedural narrative from the perspective of a journalist, since there’s many ways to play around with Sisoy’s background wearing different hats: Mayor’s best friend and a radio announcer.


Roman, an inmate involved with the missing 8 case gives a different perspective of an inmate, a sympathetic individual who’s a reluctant, forced to take in jobs to survive compared to Daniel and Tatang who’s ready to do the dirty work. Dennis Trillo performed his role in silent presence, delivered every line line with such timing that makes you convinced that Roman keeping himself intact and staying away from trouble, his performance pulls your emotions.

The episodes delved on shift of Sisoy being Mayor Eusebio’s yes man to an avenging reporter, motivated to seek answers of the fate of his missing colleagues which displayed his relationships with the mayor, his colleagues at LPN, and his family, how each of those dynamics changed and deteriorated, there were consequences but it didn’t paid off since it didn’t have that scale of investigate narrative that move the story like the first OTJ had but these scenes still deliver that give a sizable screen time to other major characters like Roman and Mayor Eusebio however, these scenes eventually come together that somehow worked.

Without spoiling, the last episode brings the OTJ groove that the audience enticed: once Sisoy and Roman’s arcs collide, coming at a full circle, the their interactions which was well acted together by Arcilla and Trillo’s are some of the best moments, they chewed scenery and every moment they’re thrown into a non-stop showdown and acted out these climatic signs in a high note.

The standout of On the Job is the collection of veteran actors who prove they’re some of the best in their craft, so many names in the industry you may be familiar: Leo Martinez’ cunning Gen.Pacheco, Joel Torre’s Tatang who plays a hardened assassin like a brooding samurai whose can convey a thousand emotions, and of course, John Arcilla’s Sisoy is an actualized performance who elaborately depict the stages of grief that’s heartbreaking and the moment comes where he takes the matter in his own hands that resembles a lead from a Western, it’s the intensity that John Arcilla brings to the role that make his screen presence so captivating, as a viewer, you’d be anticipate what is Sisoy’s next move.

On The Job is at heart a modern crime thriller saga that shows the genre has potential, be it in film and TV medium,  the industry still has it to produce these kind of stories, that they are capable of capturing the audience to be enticed.

Thank you to HBO Asia and Reality Entertainment for giving us the chance to watched all episodes in advanced.

The first three episodes are now streaming on HBO Go. Catch a new episode every Sunday.


Mico Orda

A passionate, enthusiastic writer, Mico Orda utilizes his filmmaking skills to keep his writer’s edge. He enjoys a lot of outdoor activities, which juice up his creative juices.