NYAFF 2018: WE WILL NOT DIE TONIGHT Shies From No Stabbing

Filipino Survival Action Hacks & Slashes To Survive

The trailer hooked me. A badass action heroine, a single night of survival, street gang battles, and a little heavy metal.

Writer/Director Richard Somes does not pull any punches with this one, letting it all hang out regarding the influences and genre of We Will Not Die Tonight. With a little heavy metal flavor, a bad situation getting worse, and our gang of main characters trapped by a larger gang, one can’t help but compare this film to Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room. The trouble there being that Green Room was probably the very best film released in 2015.

New-to-me star Erich Gonzalez (who, based on her IMDb profile, is a very established star in her native Philippines) leads as Kray. Trying to make a living as a stunt professional in the movies while also staying afloat and helping pay for her father’s mounting medical costs, we quickly establish Kray to be tough and determined, though struggling to make ends meet. Erich Gonzalez puts in an incredibly rigorous performance as our lead and is definitely among the chief highlights of the final product. Somes puts her through the ringer here, and all the action and stunt work appears to be done by Gonzalez herself.

When her gang of friends show up at her place, led by ex-boyfriend Ramil (Alex Medina), to propose “one last score”, you just know exactly where this is headed. But you might not expect how brutal and gory it’ll be on the way there. That’s all well and good, and as I mentioned, all of the ingredients in this recipe are ingredients I generally go in for. Sadly I don’t think they all come together to create an enduring final course. We Will Not Die Tonight is totally fine and distractingly enjoyable, but I didn’t ultimately find a whole lot to grasp onto here. Kray is a super tough heroine and some really great hand to hand fight-to-survive sequences stand out as the high points of the film. Sadly the character work is never more than one dimensional and the biggest sin is that there’s no real sense of mounting tension. Rather than the situation ratcheting up it feels like there’s little rhythm to the piece and it becomes one battle in a darkened warehouse space or stairwell after another. With something like The Raid, which I absolutely flipped for and which similarly features little more than a couple of lead characters fighting hoards of bad guys, much work is done to make each action sequence stand out and keep viewers on their toes. Less so with We Will Not Die Tonight, much to its detriment. And I guess I just never bought in. The evil gang’s motivations for hunting and killing Ramil’s crew are that they turned down a dirty job. Granted it’s a VERY dirty job that gives our heroes the moral high ground and establishes the bad guys as monsters. But even monsters would eventually do the math and realize that their entire gang is getting wiped out in pursuit of these scrappers and go live to fight another day.

I caught the film via a screener link and that’s definitely not the ideal environment for a hard rockin’ heavy metal action-survival film. I’d bet a packed audience at the New York Asian Film Festival had a blast with its high energy and crowd pleasing pace. So while I ultimately don’t believe it came together in a satisfactory way, it’s still fairly cool. Gonzalez gives it her all and none of the shortfalls of the film rest on her shoulders. It’s gory and people are getting hacked up left and right, which I’m listing as a plus here. I’ll keep my eye out for future work from both Somes and Gonzalez, but can’t quite give We Will Not Die Tonight a full endorsement.

And I’m Out.

We Will Not Die Tonight had it’s World Premier at the New York Asian Film Festival. About Subway Cinema and the New York Asian Film Festival.

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