Tokyo Film Festival title Arisaka is a thrilling battle between policewoman and gangster

One of the sought-after titles at the recently concluded Tokyo International Film Festival was Mikhail Red’s Arisaka with popular actress Maja Salvador from the Philippines. She takes on the role of a brave cop, who struggles to stay alive after a valuable witness is ambushed, leaving her the only survivor. His star power is sure to improve Arisaka’s business prospects. And Mycko David’s big screen camera work will appeal to theater audiences.

Salvador tries Mariano, a policewoman who is part of a security group that is suing Vice-Mayor Rosales (Archi Adamos). He will testify against corrupt government officials, and they could all be sacked. But on the way through a forest, Mariano’s car is attacked by the other cops inside his car. Everyone except her dies. Even the mayor.

She takes shelter in the woods, pursued as she is by the boss of a criminal syndicate, Sonny, (Mon Confiado). A chance encounter with an indigenous girl, Nawi (Shella Mae Romualdo), helps the policewoman fend off the thugs. With gunshot wounds to his stomach and arm, survival becomes a daunting task for Mariano.

Amid it all, Red infuses his work with finer moments. The relationship that forms between Mariano and the little girl is warmly touching, and contrasts with Sony, which is almost painted in black and white in a very cartoonish way.

The third act sees the actual confrontation between the good and the bad – Mariano and Sony – and the fight to end between them with hissing bullets and punches. Arisaka flatters those who love action thrillers. But what really stands out is the poetic touch of the last shot which underlines the contrast between Mariano and Sony.

(Author, commentator and film critic Gautaman Bhaskaran has covered the Tokyo International Film Festival several times)

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Darcy J. Skinner

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