Erik Matti’s BuyBust headed to Australian screens

Half Symbolic Films is excited to announce its acquisition of BuyBust by Filipino genre master Erik Matti (On the Job). The film recently had its world premiere as the closing night film at the 2018 New York Asian Film Festival. The film stars Australian-born actor Anne Curtis and MMA fighter Brandon Vera, in his first film credit.

Director Erik Matti, who wrote the original story, found inspiration for the story while shooting his previous film, On the Job (2013), in a slum area. The script, co-written with Anton Santa Maria, took on a new direction when the presidency changed and a wide-scale “war on drugs” was launched by the new government.

The film takes place over one evening and is set in a fictional slum in Manila called “Gracia ni Maria”. Curtis plays Nina Manigan, a skilled special ops rookie who previously suffered the loss of her entire squad due to another botched drug bust. Manigan is recruited into a new squad, which is tasked with infiltrating Gracia ni Maria in order to capture one of the most wanted drug lords in the Philippines. However, the mission quickly heads south and Manigan suspects foul play. Determined to live, and to find out who’s pulling the strings behind the scenes, she fights her way out.

Curtis, the darling of the Philippine entertainment industry, stars in a never-before seen role in BuyBust, the first Filipino action film to cast a female lead. Asked about her role, Curtis gleefully says “I’ve never experienced anything like this before, but when you see the play backs from the things that we do, you get even more inspired.”

Matti is only full of praises for his cast, which includes Filipino-American MMA fighter Brandon Vera in his first movie role and veteran actor Victor Neri, who originally rose to fame during the heydays of the Filipino action genre. “I had him (Victor Neri) hunted. I had to look for him because he was perfect for the role, and casting him was like a homage to action films,” said the director.

BuyBust is screening theatrically as a limited release at Dendy Canberra Centre (from 25 October) and Cineplex Southbank Brisbane (25-28 October).

Special one-off screenings in Sydney, presented with Mad Love, is scheduled in Sydney at Event Cinemas George Street on 3 Nov and Event Cinemas Parramatta on 9 Nov.

For more screening details visit the BuyBust film info page.



When a drugbust goes wrong, anti-narcotics agent Nina Manigan (Anne Curtis) and her team find themselves trapped in Manila‘s most dangerous slum. Caught between a brutal drug gang and hordes of bloodthirsty citizens, the only way out is to fight. (Classified MA15+ for strong violence.)


“A superbly executed action film about drug squad members fighting for their lives in a maze-like Manila slum that resembles nothing less than hell on earth.” -Richard Kuipers, Variety

“When “BuyBust” finally combusts, it’s often simultaneously spectacular and disturbing.” -Cary Darling, Houston Chronicle

“Featuring one villain in leopard pants and another in a bathrobe, “BuyBust” is surprisingly funny for a movie that’s basically a massacre in progress. ” -Jeanette Catsoulis, The New York Times