Jun 13, 2019
Welcome back for another Netflix Original review, this time from Philly Film Fan, aka Keith Lyons. It’s our first film from the Philippines here on One Movie Punch. Keith will be up in a minute, but for a few films from the neighboring Indonesian scene, check out “The 3rd Eye” (Episode #276), “The Night Comes For Us” (Episode #295), and “May the Devil Take You” (Episode #320)
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Take it away, Keith!
Hi, Philly Film Fan here with another review for One Movie Punch. You can follow me on Twitter @PhillyFilmFan.
Today’s movie is “Maria”, directed by Pedring Lopez and written by Yz Carbonell, Rex Lopez, and the director. This Filipino film features sexy female assassins, tons of action, and more throat-slitting than you’re probably comfortable with.
“Maria” opens with a riveting action scene where a masked figure cuts her way through a small army of men. Our mysterious assassin wields a karambit, a curved knife, reminiscent of a cat’s claw, which is a popular weapon in Filipino martial arts, and uses it to slice the throat of any man who gets in her way. After dispatching with the guards, our assassin’s target is revealed to be a mother and her young daughter. This is probably a good time to pause and give a content warning: “Maria” is a violent film with a high body count and an almost comical amount of CGI blood spurts (mostly from necks getting cut open). But even within that context, there is one scene that stands out for its shocking brutality. Sensitive viewers should definitely avoid this film.
After that kick-ass opening scene, we jump forward seven years and are introduced to Maria (Cristine Reyes), a woman living a seemingly idyllic life with her husband and six-year-old daughter. But who is she really? And what is her connection to the mysterious throat-slitter from the pre-credit sequence? Okay, they’re obviously the same person. Actually, everything about this film is pretty obvious. If you have seen any action film made after 1980, you know exactly where this thing is headed. “Maria” is genre filmmaking at its most straight forward. The only real suspense is whether or not Maria will leave enough bad guys alive to justify a sequel.
Genre films always exist within the context of a formula. This formula has been tested and proven to provide results. The best genre films transcend this formula by breaking its bounds or commenting on the clichés we’ve come to expect. One step below that are films that lean into all of the tropes and conventions, but execute them with perfect precision, creating a technical masterpiece to serve as a standard for lesser films. I would have to classify “Maria” as one of those lesser films. It is competently made but it feels a bit “paint by numbers”. Kick-ass fight scene? Check. Humanizing moment for our hero? Check. Thrilling chase scene? Check. Dramatic reveal? Check. Throat slitting? Double check!
“Maria” promises an Asian action film with a sexy lead pursued by an army of interchangeable mercenaries with throats ripe for the slicing. “Maria” delivers on this promise. Fans of boilerplate genre films can turn off their brains for 90 minutes and escape into this lean thriller. But if you never get around to it, well, you’re not missing much.
Rotten Tomatoes: NR
One Movie Punch: 6.5/10
“Maria” (2019) is rated TV-MA (mostly for throat slitting) and is currently streaming on Netflix.
This jawn was brought to you by Philly Film Fan. For more movie reviews, follow me on Twitter @PhillyFilmFan where I’m participating in the #365Movies challenge. That’s P-H-I-L-L-Y-F-I-L-M-F-A-N. Thanks for listening!