When The Raid was released in 2011/2012, the general consensus seemed to be that it was a game-changer for martial arts action films. I guess one measure of its influence is in the fact that 5 or 6 years later, there’s films coming out that draw immediate and very obvious comparisons to The Raid’s basic blueprint. Jailbreak is a 2017 Cambodian film which, like its prototype, was directed by an ex-pat – apparently an Italian dude who goes by the name of Jimmy Henderson (??!). A dandy member of otherwise all-female criminal syndicate, the Butterfly Gang, has been arrested and promises to spill the beans on his cohorts. A SWAT team is tasked with escorting him to a cell in prison pending a plea bargain or something, but once they reach the middle, all hell breaks loose, and our heroes must fight their way out. The fighting here is impressively choreographed, with fluid camerawork that often roams around following multiple characters in seemingly single takes. It’s hard to criticise the film for being a rip-off when it makes no pretence of taking itself seriously, with liberal doses of camp humour spread throughout – I wonder what the lever marked #666 will do? Oh no, it opens the doors to cells where they keep the superhuman-strength cannibals! The leader of the Butterfly Gang, who sashays into the locked-down prison through clouds of teargas wearing skintight leather and stilettos, is an ahem actress by the name of Celine Tran (some wag commented on a youtube video “This isn’t the first time she’s taken on a roomful of guys”), and MMA fighter Dara Our shows that she’s got the charisma for a career in film. This is well worth checking out, if you like this kind of thing. BuyBust (Erik Matti, 2018) is the Philippines entry into the fray. A SWAT team is sent deep into a maze-like impoverished barangay to arrest a drug kingpin, but when things go belly up, they find themselves trapped and fighting for their lives against the gang and the residents. While the basic plot template is there, this film doesn’t rely entirely on relentless action sequences coming at you one after another, but rather builds something of an atmosphere and suspense by having the protagonists secure ground before stepping into the next melee. Less successful were the attempts to insert comic elements into the film – whereas Jailbreak revelled in its absurdity and never took itself seriously, BuyBust kind of wanted to have a bet both ways. I liked Anne Curtis here, and thought she acquitted herself well - I never realised she’s been in other films, having only seen her before on daytime variety TV. It’s not a terrible film by any stretch of the imagination, but given the pedigree, I thought it was a little bit underwhelming.