Screen star Maja Salvador plays a tough police officer in Mikhail Red’s revenge thriller Arisaka, streaming today on Netflix.
Speaking to Manila Standard Entertainment during the film’s press premiere on Monday, Salvador described her character as “empowered” and the film as “a project I would definitely regret not doing.”
“It’s hard for me to give a definite answer when people ask about my dream role or dream project because every role, every movie, is different. In Ang Probinsyano, I was a police officer. Here in Arisaka, I’m also a police officer. But these two characters are very different from each other. And that’s the beauty of doing unconventional films. You get to play unconventional roles,” she said.
“As you see in the movie, my character was beaten, stabbed, and shot several times, but she stood up. With all the strength left in her, she continued carrying out her mission. That’s the message that my character wanted to share with the audience…to never give up, to continue with your mission despite the challenges,” she carried on.
Salvador admitted that playing the role was also a big challenge, not to mention it’s being different from the usual roles she plays on television.
“Our director wanted me to have cuts on my arms, he wanted me to have toned arms. But it was shot during the height of the pandemic, I was overeating. Yan lang talaga ang kinaya ko,” she said in jest alluding to her physical appearance in the film.
“The biggest challenge here is that I have fewer lines but I have to deliver the message and the emotional requirement of the character,” she added.
In Arisaka, Salvador plays a policewoman who is part of an escort convoy transporting a vice mayor (Archi Adamos) down what must be the Philippines’ most desolate road to testify against a cabal of corrupt officials. They are ambushed by a quartet of rotten cops intending to silence the witness, but Mariano survives by playing dead beneath the bodies of her comrades.
The wounded Mariano is chased by gangster boss Sonny (Mon Confiado) when she heads into the jungle that witnessed the brutal Bataan Death March in 1942.
While playing cat and mouse with Sonny, Mariano meets an indigenous Aeta girl Nawi (Shella Mae Romulado) who comes to her rescue.
After Nawi’s family gets involved and is later on killed by Sonny and his crew, she leads Mariano to a cave where they find a rifle left behind during the war. The rifle is called Arisaka, and it’s the same gun Mariano uses to exact revenge.
“Arisaka is really a release of so many fed-up emotions, anxieties, and frustrations during the pandemic. I hope it also serves as a catharsis for our shared outrage to all the injustice and cycles of oppression and violence in our country,” Red told the crowd at the Philippine premiere of his film.
“I’d like to thank Netflix for giving us a platform to showcase our film, reach a wide audience, and the audience that matters,” he ended.
Produced by Ten17P and written by Anton Santamaria, Arisaka had its global premiered last month at the 2021 Tokyo International Film Festival where Red was nominated for Tokyo Grand Prix.