On the Job (2013 film)

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On the Job
On the Job Philippine theatrical poster.jpg
Theatrical poster for the Philippine release
Directed by Erik Matti[1]
Produced by
  • Leonardo T. Po[1]
  • Dondon Monteverde
  • Malou Santos
  • Charo Santos-Concio
Written by
  • Michiko Yamamoto
  • Erik Matti
Music by Erwin Romulo
Cinematography Francis Ricardo Buhay III
Edited by Jay Halili
Distributed by
Release date(s)
  • May 14, 2013 (2013-05-14) (Cannes)
  • August 28, 2013 (2013-08-28) (Philippines)
  • September 27, 2013 (2013-09-27) (United States of America)
Running time 121 minutes
Country Philippines
  • Tagalog
  • English
Box office PHP13,459,037 (Philippines)[3]
$164,620 (US)[4]

On the Job is a 2013 Filipino action thriller film directed by Erik Matti, and stars Joel Torre, Gerald Anderson, and Piolo Pascual.[5][6][7] The film is a co-production of Star Cinema and Reality Entertainment[8] as part of Star Cinema's 20th year anniversary presentation.[9]


In the Philippines, the abundant crime and poverty suffered on the streets is blamed on the corrupt politicians and police force.

Tatang and Daniel are two prisoners who are regularly released from prison to perform hits for their boss Thelma. The film opens with the duo murdering a man named Tiu.

Daniel is young and reckless, sending some of his money home, spending the rest on goods he can trade for privileges in the prison. Tatang, due to get out soon, uses his money to support his wife (who really wants nothing to do with him). He's also paying for his daughter's law school tuition, as she is unaware that he is in prison and thinks he is away working. After the hit, they are sent back.

Since the two have worked together for so long, Daniel has come to see Tatang as a father figure. Tatang views Daniel as a son, teaching him to make hits.

Tiu's murder case is assigned to NBI Agent Coronel through Congressman Manrique, who is Coronel's father-in-law. Coronel's father was also a policeman who was killed amid rumors he was corrupt. Coronel, and his partner Bernabe, arrive at the local precint to get the files on Tiu's murder, only to get resistance from Sgt. Acosta, a 20-year veteran who feels the case was taken from him, because of Coronel's political connections.

Tatang and Daniel are released and kill a woman named Linda. Linda's husband Pol, upon hearing of his wife's murder, immediately calls Acosta. When Acosta arrives, he reveals that Tiu's murder is just one of several murders ordered by General Pacheco, a high-ranking military officer who is running for the Senate, and a close friend of Manrique's. Pacheco runs a murder-for-hire operation using prisoners, and killing anyone else involved to protect his campaign.

Acosta agrees to protect him, and heads to the station to make the arrangements. But Tatang and Daniel also arrive. Coronel and Bernabe show up and confronts Acosta. Daniel shoots Pol in the shoulder, but his gun jams before he can deliver the fatal shot. The three officers converge on them, forcing the two to flee.

They manage to get Pol to a hospital, but Tatang and Daniel also make it. Daniel creates a distraction, allowing Tatang to kill Pol. The two flee the hospital and split up. Coronel and Bernabe chase Daniel, and Acosta goes after Tatang. The two manage to escape, but Bernabe gets shot and Tatang sprains his ankle.

Coronel confronts Manrique at a Reform Party presentation, telling him he intends to arrest Pacheco for his involvement with the assassination ring. Manrique warns Coronel that arresting the general will also result in his and Coronel's downfall, because Manrique was also one of Pacheco's clients. Coronel leaves in frustration, and gets no help from his wife, whom he later discovers is pregnant. Acosta gives a sketch of Tatang to a police artist and has it broadcast on television.

Coronel decides to work with Acosta, and the two go through the Tiu case evidence. Acosta informs Coronel that his father was not corrupt, and was killed because he intended to expose the corruption in the department. Acosta was a victim himself, having been demoted for having his corrupt supervisor imprisoned.

Coronel and Acosta discover that Tiu's father can provide them with the evidence they will need to put Pacheco away. On the way, Coronel strands Acosta as he urinates. He goes to Pacheco's mansion, where Pacheco admits he had no choice but to kill Coronel's father for the good of the government. Coronel is left with no choice but to leave at gunpoint. The delay gives Pacheco's men the opportunity to kill Tiu's father.

The two discover that Tatang is the man in the sketch. Coronel visits Tatang's wife, who is there with her lover, Bhoy. She lies, telling him Tatang has never been there and that she last saw him months ago. After leaving, he relays the info about Bhoy to Acosta. Acosta confronts Tatang in prison (having seen the ankle). Despite a tough grilling, even using the info about Bhoy, Tatang still doesn't talk.

The next day, Daniel and another assassin gun down Coronel in front of police headquarters. An enraged Acosta catches up with Manrique and Pacheco's detail. He begins shooting at their bulletproof Range Rover, but gets into a shootout with their guards. They attempt to kill him, until Pacheco orders them to cease fire.

On the day Tatang is to be released, Daniel comes to say goodbye. Realizing his wife and daughter (who now knows the truth) want nothing more to do with him, and nothing to look forward to outside; he stabs Daniel to death. He gives the bloody knife to the guards ensuring he will remain in prison for the rest of his life.

The people mourn Coronel's death. Acosta is suspended, and being investigated for the murder. Tatang visits his home and shoots Bhoy, then gets back in a vehicle headed back to prison.

After this, Bernabe is shown inside police headquarters, looking through the box filled with Coronel's things. He sees Coronel's cellphone where, previously, Coronel secretly recorded an incriminating conversation with Manrique and Pacheco. Bernabe requisitions this phone.



  • Dong Abay – MaskaraDong Abay - Perpekto
  • Dong Abay - Mateo Singko
  • Radioactive Sago Project – Pinoy Blues
  • Bent Lynchpin – Deep Seated Contempt
  • Bent Lynchpin - Terraform Archivist
  • Bent Lynchpin - Things Unknown
  • Bent Lynchpin - Between Two Points
  • Caliph8 – Rested Note
  • Caliph8 – Struck a Responsive Chord
  • Caliph8 – Quadrille for Five
  • Fred Sandoval – Year of the RatFred Sandoval - ClapFred Sandoval - Grit (Dindi’s Blues)
  • Pasta Groove – Gabi
  • Francis M. and Hardware Syndrome – Ayoko sa Dilim
  • Armi Millare and Ely Buendia – This Will Be Broken
  • Armi Millare and Ely Buendia – Pasion



Erik Matti was encouraged by Todd Brown of Twitch Film to start the screenplay. Brown also promised Matti that he will provide potential investors to the project. This however, was not pushed through after the first draft of the script was not yet completed. Star Cinema initially declined to co-produce the film. However, the company had changed its mind after Matti had revised the script. Later on, Matti asked Piolo Pascual of the lead role. Pascual was responsible for Gerald Anderson's casting in the film. Joel Torre, was already offered for his role in the film even prior to the completion of the screenplay.[10] Four uncredited consultants were also asked to help and thoroughly shape up the some details in the story.[2]

Distribution and release[edit]

The poster used at the Cannes Film Festival.

The film was screened and had a world premiere in the Directors' Fortnight at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France.[11][12] The Directors' Fortnight is a noncompetitive, independently programmed section of the film festival.[13]

The film will be distributed by Star Cinema locally starting on August 28, 2013.[2][14] It will also be released in North America in the fall of 2013 and will be distributed by Well Go USA Entertainment.[15][16] The deal was brokered by Pfardrescher of Well Go USA Entertainment, and Nate Bolotin and Aram Tertzakian of XYZ Films (producer for the American adaptation).[8] "'On The Job' reiterates that it is an exciting time for Filipino cinema," said Doris Pfardrescher. "We are thrilled we were able to acquire the movie before its premiere in Cannes and can’t wait to bring it to audiences in North America.[17] Aside from North America, it will also be released in France by Wild Side Films,[16] and in Australia by Madman Entertainment.[17]

The deals with French and North American distribution companies secured 350 thousand US dollars or 12 million pesos. Also included in the deal with the North American distribution company, Well Go USA Entertainment, is that the company will be responsible for DVD/Blu-Ray and video on demand distributions.[16]


It became critically acclaimed both by local and foreign critics. A US remake is currently under pre-production.

Critical responses and reviews[edit]

According to Justin Chang, a senior film critic in Variety, "...'On the Job' is a gritty, convoluted but steadily engrossing crime thriller from Filipino genre maven Erik Matti. Although this fast-paced actioner takes a while to sort out its parallel plotlines, extending from an unusually porous prison system to the highest political offices, it ultimately fires on all cylinders as a tense, well-acted B-movie whose strong local flavor is unlikely to survive the inevitable offshore remake. Well Go USA Entertainment snapped up North American rights at Cannes, where the pic’s Directors’ Fortnight berth afforded Matti his broadest international exposure yet."[1] According to a review by Film Business Asia, "It's a movie that slowly sucks the audience in as the structure becomes clearer — a gamble by Matti that pays off in the end but could still take a few trims and clearer organisation in the first half. What keeps the viewer hooked are the performances: veteran Joel TORRE as the seasoned, avuncular hitman, younger Gerald Anderson cast against type as the apprentice he teaches to cold-bloodedly kill, handsome Piolo Pascual as the conflicted NBI agent on their trail, and especially actor-politician Joey Marquez (the father in Tiktik) as a local cop who teams up with Pascual's agent. The relationship between the first two and the latter two are what give the movie emotional depth beyond the gritty action scenes and the umbrous sequences set in the prison (which functions like a real-life barrio). As a result, the film's most surprising twist near the end — a typically playful one by Matti — is as shocking as it is disorienting. Female roles are minimal and not especially memorable. At the end of the day, On the Job is simply a well-packaged, tenebrous crime thriller with a clever idea, and doesn't pretend to be anything more. Its high-up villains are standard politicians, and its heroes and killers are street-level types who operate in a separate universe. For local release, the film will have minor changes, including the addition of another sex scene."[18]

The Hollywood Reporter describe the film as a "likably rough-edged hitmen-vs.-cops thriller."[19] On the other hand, Allan Hunter of Screen Daily said that, "Director and co-writer Erik Matti seems more comfortable with staging action sequences and generating noir-like atmosphere than creating nuanced characters or subtle dialogue but the basic story of crime and corruption at the heart of a rotten society is involving enough to forgive any infelicities. A stellar Filipino cast and the explosive subject matter will make this essential viewing on its home territory. Well Go’s decision to purchase US rights confirms the film’s potential to make an impression internationally although the blandly uninviting title does it no favours." It has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, making it considered one of the best. [20]



Aside from the Cannes Film Festival, the film was also screened at the 17th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival in Bucheon, South Korea.[21] At the said film festival, Joel Torre received the Best Actor award, and the film receiving the Jury Prize.[22][23]


The film was one of twenty one selected feature films screened in the Directors' Fortnight at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France from May 16 until 26, 2013.[12][24] Though it did not win the Caméra d'Or prize, the film was well received by the viewers and was given a two-minute standing ovation.[2][25]

The film was also reported to be part of the second installment of the The ABCs of Death, an award winning American horror film anthology produced by Ant Timpson and Tim League.[26]


The film is reported to have a US adaptation and will be directed by Baltasar Kormákur, the person who also directed Contraband and 2 Guns.[27][28] The remake will be produced by Kormákur's Blueeyes Productions. XYZ Films, the production and sales company that represents the international rights to the film, will also co-produce and will release the remake film worldwide.[29]

Matti is also planning to make a sequel to the film.[27]


  1. ^ a b c Chang, Justine (June 12, 2013). "Film Review: ‘On the Job’". Variety. Retrieved August 16, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d Dimaculangan, Jocelyn (August 15, 2013). "OTJ (On The Job) budget reaches almost P50 million; Piolo Pascual became emotional when OTJ received standing ovation in Cannes". Philippine Entertainment Portal. Retrieved August 15, 2013. 
  3. ^ Gross in the PH
  4. ^ Gross in the US
  5. ^ Umali, Anton D. (August 27, 2013). "The Sexy, Dangerous Women of On The Job". FHM Philippines. Retrieved September 28, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Piolo, Gerald to do action film". Bandila. ABS-CBN News. November 23, 2013. Retrieved August 15, 2013. 
  7. ^ Jeannette Catsoulis (September 26, 2013). "Both Sides of a Crime, Each Imperfect: ‘On the Job,’ Directed by Erik Matti". The New York Times. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Fleming, Mike Jr. (May 23, 2013). "Cannes: Well Go USA Lands N.A. Rights To ‘On The Job’". Deadline. Retrieved August 15, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Internationally-acclaimed OTJ showing Aug. 28". The Philippine Star. August 16, 2013. Retrieved August 16, 2013. 
  10. ^ Agulto, Mikey (August 8, 2013). "10 Things We Learned About 'On The Job,' According to Esquire". FHM Philippines. Retrieved August 16, 2013. 
  11. ^ San Diego, Bayani Jr. (April 23, 2013). "Erik Matti makes it in Cannes Directors’ Fortnight with ‘On the Job’". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved August 16, 2013. 
  12. ^ a b "List of films in Cannes Directors' Fortnight". Agence France-Presse. Cannes Film Festival. April 23, 2013. Retrieved August 15, 2013. 
  13. ^ Rañoa-Bismark, Maridol (April 30, 2013). "‘On the Job’ joins Cannes". Yahoo! OMG! Philippines. Retrieved August 15, 2013. 
  14. ^ Teodoro Jose Joaquin (September 5, 2013). "Why 'On The Job' is getting rave reviews". ABS-CBN News. Retrieved September 25, 2013. 
  15. ^ Kay, Jeremy (May 23, 2013). "Well Go gets On The Job". Screen Daily. Retrieved August 15, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b c San Diego, Bayani Jr. (June 6, 2013). "P12-M foreign deals for PH’s ‘On the Job’". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved August 15, 2013. 
  17. ^ a b Holloway, Clint (May 24, 2013). "Well Go USA Acquires Filipino Thriller 'On The Job' Ahead of Its Cannes Premiere". IndieWire. Retrieved August 15, 2013. 
  18. ^ Elley, Derek (May 29, 2013). "On the Job". Film Business Asia. Retrieved August 16, 2013. 
  19. ^ Young, Neil (May 30, 2013). "On the Job: Cannes Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 16, 2013. 
  20. ^ Hunter, Allan (May 23, 2013). "On The Job". Screen Daily. Retrieved August 16, 2013. 
  21. ^ Macahindog, Jecelyn V. (July 27, 2013). "Joel Torre, ‘OTJ’ win big at PiFan 2013". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved August 16, 2013. [dead link]
  22. ^ Dimaculangan, Jocelyn (July 28, 2013). "Joel Torre wins Best Actor, OTJ (On the Job) wins Jury prize in South Korea". Philippine Entertainment Portal. Retrieved August 16, 2013. 
  23. ^ "‘On the Job,’ Joel Torre win in Korea". Philippine Daily Inquirer. July 28, 2013. Retrieved August 16, 2013. 
  24. ^ Dimaculangan, Jocelyn (April 23, 2013). "Piolo Pascual and Gerald Anderson-starrer, OTJ, included in Directors' Fortnight of Cannes Film Fest". Philippine Entertainment Portal. Retrieved August 16, 2013. 
  25. ^ Evangelista, Patricia (August 1, 2013). "Piolo, Gerald and Joel on the job". Rappler. Retrieved August 16, 2013. 
  26. ^ Brown, Todd (August 15, 2013). "Final ABCs OF DEATH 2 Directors Announced, 26th Director Competition Announced!". Twitch Film. Retrieved August 16, 2013. 
  27. ^ a b Brown, Todd (June 26, 2013). "Baltasar Kormakur To Remake Erik Matti's ON THE JOB". Twitch Film. Retrieved August 16, 2013. 
  28. ^ Cremin, Stephen (June 26, 2013). "XYZ confirms On the Job remake". Film Business Asia. Retrieved August 16, 2013. 
  29. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (June 20, 2013). "Baltasar Kormakur Eyes Feature On Scandal That Inspired Cannes Pic ‘On The Job’". Deadline. Retrieved August 16, 2013. 

External links[edit]