Arriving hot on the heels of Eric Matti’s similarly plotted but decidedly more entertaining BuyBust, Brillante Mendoza’s Alpha, the Right to Kill is a down and dirty frontline take on Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial war on drugs. Seen from the point-of-view of SWAT commander Espino and his impoverished informant Elijah, the film purports to represent both sides of the violent confrontations that have ravaged Manila’s slums since Duterte came to power in 2016. But anyone with even a passing knowledge of the issue, will see Mendoza’s film as a gross misrepresentation of the fundamental problems facing millions of Filipino citizens, in favour of a simplified, sanitised cops and robbers tale. The film won the Special Jury Prize at last month’s San Sebastian Film Festival.
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