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Engkwentro

Clash

Philippines 2009
produced by
Pepe Diokno for Cinemalaya
directed by Pepe Diokno
starring Felix Roco, Daniel Medrana, Zyrus Desamparado, Eda Nolan, Celso Ad. Castillo, Moises Magisa, Bayang Barrios, Jim Libiran
screenplay by Pepe Diokno, Bianca Balbuena, Nicholas Varela, Felix Roco, Jerry Gracio

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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The slums of some Filipino city: Smalltime punk Richard (Felix Roco) is not yet 20 years old, but he’s already on the hitlist of the City Death Squad, a (probably state-sanctioned) vigilante group dedicated to ridding the city of crime by simply shooting dead all crooks (even underaged ones). Richard wants to leave for Manila with his girlfriend Jenny Jane (Eda Nolan), but lacking the money needed she has to moonlight as a prostitute (like her mother) while he tries to make money from petty crime and selling his own alcoholic father’s drugs. While he’s trying to make the money though, he also has to see to it that his kid brother Raymond (Daniel Medrana) doesn’t end up like himself and goes to school to have a beter start in life – but Raymond has long ditched school and joined a gang, the gang of Tomas (Zyrus Desamparado), who by the way is madly in love with Jenny Jane though she’s not interested in him one bit. When Tomas learns that Richard wants to leave town with Jenny Jane, he decides to get rid of him once and for all, and using his own brother to do the dirty job, too. So he drugs up Raymond, equips him with a machete, has Richard cornered and releases Raymond on him … but that doesn’t work out as planned as Raymond still has enough brotherly love left in himself despite all the drugs, and ultimately, Richard shoots Tomas dead with his own gun. Then he tries to convince Raymond to ditch his life of crime for good, as it would only lead to his own death … but before he can get anywhere with his attempt to make an honest man out of his brother, he is shot by one of the death squad’s hitman – who then shoots Raymond as well, just for the fun of it.

The last shot shows Jenny Jane waiting at the pier where she was supposed to meet Richard, but nobody comes to take her away from her life in the slums, which she ultimately sees herself forced to return to …

 

Engkwentro doesn’t make the film sound like much, little more than a clichéed juvenile delinquency flick, and the movie’s attempt to give it some sociopolitical relevance by setting ist narration to a series of political speeches on the soundtrack seems a bit too forced as well – but all that said, Engkwentro is aything but a bad movie, mainly because of its inspired diretorial effort that tells the whole story in only a handful of long shots including an extremely long (approx. 15 minutes) tracking shot at the beginning which all give the film a dynamic all of its own, plus the film shows an amazing eye for detail concerning life and conditions inthe slums. Sure, all of this would work even better if the film was based on a more original script, but even as it is it’s quite an interesting and apart from that pretty entertaining (if a bit depressing due to its topic) movie.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
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you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
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starring
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out now on DVD