BuyBust (styled BUYBUST) is a 2018 Philippine action thriller film co-written and directed by Erik Matti. It stars an ensemble cast top-billed by Anne Curtis and Brandon Vera. The plot centers on a team summoned by the PDEA to conduct a drug bust in a Manila slum. Realizing the mission is poorly executed, the team find themselves trapped by settlers and attempts to escape by fighting their way out. The film has been viewed as a social commentary on the controversial Philippine Drug War initiated by the Duterte government.
Production on Matti’s “first full-on action film” began in 2016, and Curtis and Vera were cast as leads the following year. On a budget of ₱86 million, principal photography began in March 2017. The film premiered at the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) on June 29, 2018, had a wide Philippine release on August 1 and a limited North American release on August 10. Critical reception to the film was generally favorable, attaining praise for its action scenes, theme, technical aspects, and Curtis’ against-type performance. It grossed ₱97 million worldwide.
Due to the Philippine Drug War, most of the country’s barangays have been drug free. Drug dealer Teban (Alex Calleja) is interrogated by Detective Dela Cruz (Lao Rodriguez) and Detective Alvarez (Nonie Buencamino), trying to find out the location of big-time drug lord Biggie Chen (Arjo Atayde). Upon learning that Chen is hiding at the Barangay Gracia ni Maria in Tondo, Manila, the authorities launch a “buy-bust” operation to capture Chen.
Rookie police officer Nina Manigan (Anne Curtis) joins a new anti-narcotic elite squad of the PDEA after surviving the slaughter of her entire former squad in a drug raid compromised by corrupt cops. Her new squad is chosen to conduct the mission against Chen; the entrapment is to take place in Plaza Rajah Sulayman. Teban is used as a bait to lure Chen, but the latter did not appear.
The squad then proceeds to the slums of Gracia and split up into the Alpha and Bravo teams. Inside, Teban meets with Chongki (Levi Ignacio) to take him over to Chen. However, the operation was revealed as bait to massacre the PDEA officers. The Alpha team is slaughtered, leaving Dela Cruz as the only survivor. The Bravo team, led by Bernie, fall back but find themselves trapped by slum settlers and drug mafias in which they must fight their way out. Nina then kills Dela Cruz upon finding out that he is a part of the illegal trade.
Fed up with the relentless operations conducted by authorities, the dwellers of Gracia erupted into a violent riot against the PDEA officers and the drug lords. In the ensuing chaos, Rico, Bernie, Teban, Chongki, Solomon, Manok and hundreds of other civilians are killed amid the riots and the gunfights. In the aftermath, Chen is captured, and Nina, who ends up as being the sole survivor of her squad, finds out that Detective Alvarez was the one behind the illegal drug trade from Chen. While in police custody, Alvarez kills Chen; Nina then kills Alvarez, who places the gun on Chen’s lifeless body, stating that the criminal “fought back”.