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Film / On the Job

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Manrique: This is a matter of public interest. I need you to take care of something for me.

On The Job is a 2013 Philippine action thriller movie with heavy Film Noir overtones. It's directed by Erik Matti and stars an ensemble cast of popular local actors, including Joel Torre, Gerald Anderson, Piolo Pascual, Joey Marquez, Shaina Magdayao, Vivian Velez, Michael de Mesa, and Leo Martinez

Inmates are regularly being hired as contract killers for influential political figures. This arrangement sets up a complex web of relationships that binds elite leaders with hardened lowlifes.

Tatang, a jaded veteran hitman, trains inexperienced newbie Daniel. Meanwhile, National Bureau of Investigation officer Francis Coronel, Jr. looks to raise his profile as an idealistic reformer. He begins investigating several related hits, despite his own compromising links to elite figures implicated in the killings. Francis gains an unlikely associate in under-achieving police officer Joaquin Acosta, who has a personal stake in the case.


A botched rub-out sets up a chain of inter-connected events that may lead to the exposure of the contract killer's businesses, as the lives of the four men become embroiled in a tense cat-and-mouse game of secrets, intrigue, and betrayal.

Needless to say, the film is exceedingly grim.

Due to good reception worldwide, it's announced that the film will see a sequel, known as On The Job Two as of 2020, as well as an American-produced remake. A six-part web-only miniseries will also be produced and made available on HOOQ. Both Filipino-made sequels are on hold as the director had been busy filming Kuwaresma .


This movie contains examples of:

  • Ambiguous Ending: It's unclear what exactly happens to Francis' cellphone with the incriminating recording, after being seized as evidence.
    • The Stinger shows that Francis' rookie partner, played by Rayver Cruz, manages to get a hold of it. What he will do with it, though, remains unseen, so this could still qualify.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: General Pacheco's crimes remain unexposed when the film ends.
  • Bald of Evil: Senator Manrique, Francis' father-in-law.
  • Boom, Headshot!: The hit on Tiu in the opening scene ends this way, with the Chunky Salsa Rule in full effect.
  • Boxed Crook: The entire premise of the film. Prisoners are regularly sprung from jail in order to conduct hits and then promptly returned inside, in exchange for reasonable pay, special treatment, and a few days on the outside to spend with their families.
  • Broken Pedestal: Despite his dedication, talent and sterling reputation, Francis Coronel is quickly disabused of his notions about law enforcement, after his father-in-law prods him to take over the Tiu investigation, and gets rudely introduced to the latter's world.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Tatang teaches Daniel how to make a fatal stab up close, telling him how this method is the most emotionally-taxing, as it forces you to watch your victim's pained face as they slowly die. Makes Tatang's last hug to Daniel at the ending that much more difficult.
  • Cluster P-Bomb: The criminals and even Officer Acosta swear a lot in this film, with the ubiquitous swear words puta and 'tang-ina, which are rough equivalents to "bitch" and "son-of-a-bitch", commonly bandied around.
  • Cowboy Cop: Officer Acosta continues to get involved with the Tiu case, even after it gets reassigned to Coronel.
    • By-the-Book Cop: In contrast, NBI Agent Coronel is a squeaky clean investigator in a city full of Dirty Cops, which puts him at odds with his Corrupt Politician father-in-law, who obviously expects him to go with the flow.
  • Crapsack World: More like Crapsack Nation. Even beyond the seedy underbelly, Manila is presented as an unrelentingly grim city to live in.
  • Deconstruction: The film takes a long and condemning look on the Filipino placing high value on the family
    • Seen with SPO1 Acosta's treatment of his son, who admitted to both using and dealing illegal drugs (by the senior's refusal to turn the latter in to law enforcement)
    • Tatang's wife and child refusing to turn him in or volunteer information
    • NBI Agent Coronel being caught between his loyalty to his job and sense of honor versus his loyalty to his father-in-law and wife.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Tatang loses all hope for a normal life after parole when he learns about Lolet's infidelity.
  • The Determinator: Tatang. By the end of the film, he decides to keep working as a hitman, despite his old age, a major foot injury, and the knowledge of his wife's affair.
  • Downer Ending: Francis and Daniel are dead. Officer Acosta has lost his job. Nicky is a grieving widow. Tatang has just shot his wife's lover thereby destroying any chances of a happy life within the law.
  • Faux Affably Evil: General Pacheco, when he's confronted by Francis. Despite his polite, civil manner, there is a menacing undertone to his lecture about "the way things are done".
  • Flipping the Bird: Acosta sticks his middle finger up at Pacheco's goons, after surviving their epic shootout. Essentially, the non-verbal equivalent of a Precision F-Strike.
  • Gray-and-Gray Morality: Everyone looks after their own selfish interests. Law enforcement is shown to be fundamentally corrupt. Their bosses and paymasters manipulate the system for their own ends, but nobody is characterized as outright evil.
  • He Who Fights Monsters
  • Hellhole Prison: The City Jail is a brutal place to be incarcerated.
  • The Handler: Thelma plays this role for Tatang and Daniel.
  • Holiday in Cambodia: The film does not shy away from depicting Manila's urban squalor.
  • Inherent in the System: Pretty much the key theme of the film. Within the plot itself, General Pacheco's advice to Francis is the most egregious acknowledgement.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Officer Acosta's method of choice when he tries to make Tatang confess his involvement with the killings.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Francis, after discovering General Pacheco's connection to his father's death.
  • Knuckle Tattoos: Daniel has the common curse word "Tang Ina!" tattooed on his fingers, and introduces the tats to the audience in a now-memetic scene. Fitting, seeing as he is depicted as an uneducated Tattooed Crook.
  • Mafia Princess: Not of the usual sort; Nicky's lavish lifestyle is funded by her father's political connections. Later subverted when she finds out she knows all about it and expects her By-the-Book Cop husband to play along.
  • Professional Killer: Tatang. "Lahat nito... Trabaho lang, Daniel." ("All of this... It's just work, Daniel.") He doesn't seem to take much pleasure in his job, but he sure is damn effective at it.
  • Sequel Hook: The lost phone with damning evidence, Acosta seeing a picture of himself as a very young rookie cop while gathering his belongings after being relieved of duty, Tatang becoming a full-time hitman
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Despite the odd Hope Spots, the movie rests decisively on the bleak end of the spectrum.
  • The Stoic: As part of Daniel's training in close-range stabbing, he must kill a defenseless older inmate, to prove he is merciless enough for the job.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Officer Acosta, after resolving to hunt down Paul's killers. He goes from being an under-achieving beat cop to a reasonably driven, effective investigator.
  • Tough Love: How Acosta treats his deadbeat son.
  • Train Escape: A slight modification of Type 2, with Francis pursuing Daniel aboard a Light Rail Transit (LRT) train at Central Terminal. Daniel then disguises himself by changing his jacket, "borrowing" a cap from another passenger, and burying his face in a tabloid. He nearly gets away with it too, until Francis just about recognises him … At that point, however, the train pulls into Carriedo station, which Daniel uses to make good his escape.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Acosta's pursuit of Pacheco and his entourage, and the resulting gunfight, after the hit on Francis.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Manrique and General Pacheco, who are both running for office. They make it a point to be more hands-off about their misdeeds.
  • You Killed My Father: Averted with Francis' confrontation of Pacheco. Coronel backs down, after recognizing that he can't fight the system directly.


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