In an era where right-wing “strong men” from across the world dominate news cycles by beating their chests and boasting of their ruthlessness, Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte managed to set himself apart by openly bragging about the extra-judicial killings he had orchestrated across the nation. This was the “War on Drugs” as hardcore conservatives across the planet would like to see it fought, but which would be political suicide to ever openly call for in most parts of the world. The “War on Drugs” itself is a term which the police chiefs in Brillante Mendoza’s latest film continually parrot, a nod to the American ancestry of their particular brand of chaos. That the president himself can brag of having directed his citizens to murder one another hints at the special kind of hell Alpha, The Right to Kill is engaging with.
Working within the slums of Manilla, Espino (Allen Dizon) is a high-ranking drug cop, plotting the police’s most lethal drug raids and quietly helping himself to a cut of the money and merchandise on the side. Elijah (Elijah Filamor) is a small-time dealer who now acts as Espino’s informant as well as his partner in crime. Both are struggling to raise their children in cramped, crowded homes on incomes that don’t nearly merit the daily danger they face.