Melodrama champ Gil Portes's Saranggola (The Kite) is a good story by Butch Dalisay, about the police code of ethics to protect themselves. But as critic Noel Vera points out, more subtlety could have give the film more wind.




THE ASIAN VALUES DVD REVIEW

Gil Portes’s Saranggola (The Kite) is a simple enough story: drunken policeman shoots down a boy on a rooftop, flying a kite; the only witness is the policeman’s own son.

The script, by Butch Dalisay, is nicely structured and develops the story with a minimum of fuss, though I do have reservations - like the character of the investigating officer (Mark Gil), with his little speech about justice. No one really believes in "justice" in this country, least of all the people who serve it; they know the system too well.

They do have a code of ethics among themselves, one of which (and possibly the highest) is to defend your own. Gil’s character would be more realistic - would, in fact, be more vividly dramatic - if he was forced to investigate his fellow officer (Ricky Davao) because political pressures compel him onwards, and because the facts inexorably lead to Davao.

The film’s main weaknesses are in its texture, not its structure. The crucial scene where Davao shoots the boy is clumsily staged and edited; the music, overemphatic. The scene where Davao tries to confess to a priest - potentially a powerful moment - feels truncated. Portes struggles with the material and, presumably, against enormous budget and time constraints; he probably couldn’t win all the battles, all the time.

Ricky Davao, I’ve always believed, is a terrific actor; he doesn’t disappoint here, though there are moments when he overacts as much as the film does. The actor playing the young boy, Lester Llansang, is blessedly uncute; he reacts to his father’s crime with an intense, angry stare, which is a nice touch - his world is being threatened, and he’s helpless to stop it.

In the crucial moment when he confesses, however, Llansang seems strangely inadequate. Unfortunately, Portes doesn’t cover for him; he shoots him straight on, and it lessens the scene (to be fair, I can’t think of anyone else who could play the scene - a difficult one - as written).

Despite the clumsiness, despite the crudity, it’s hard to dislike a film whose heart is so simply and honestly on its sleeve (the key word is "honestly"). And there is one point - about the time when Davao is caught - when Portes achieves the perfect mix of emphasis and understatement, and the picture finally takes flight; only for a few minutes, and almost near the end, the picture is as exhilarating as a kite in flight. Which, when you come to think of it, is something many films (including a few French ones) never manage to do.

Note: Businessworld, June 25, 1999. The above also appears in Noel Vera's Critic After Dark: A Review Of Philippine Cinema (BigO Books).
Click here to order.






For more... email mybigo@bigozine.com with the message, "Put me on your mailing list."


 
November 27, 2007









  Click here for other Asian Values DVD Reviews:

The Python In The Old Dome
Tadhana
American Adobo
Dekada '70
Your Life In My Hands
Gangland
Small Voices
Mumbaki
Monster In Manila
When The Heart Sings Again
Sisa
Batang West Side
Castle Of Sand
Maynila At The Edge Of Greatness
La Vida Rosa
The Bar-Girl And The One-Arm Man
Sex And The City
Call Me Joy
Selya
When The Moment Comes
Jack And Jill
Markova: Comfort Gay
Dumplings: Three... Extremes
Elena's Redemption
The Stud And The Nympho
Sindak
Sex Beyond The Grave
At The Breast Of The Enemy
The Sexy Killer
In The Navel Of The Sea
The Girlie Bar
Dyesebel
Starlets For Sale
Milagros
The Amorous Lotus Pan
Curacha
Big Bad Sis
Yesterday Children
The Sugar Daddies
Tinimbang Judged Today
Bruce Lee And I
Lady Chatterley's Lubbe
The Boxer's Omen
The Foxy Ladies
Sidhi
Corpse Mania
Pale Passion
Your Wife, My Wife
Raw Passions
Pussy Hairs
Pale Passion
Pila Balde
Sinful Adulteress
Flower Of Manila
Sinful Confession

The Most Beautiful Creature On The Face Of The Earth
Sexy Playgirls

Toro (Live Show)
Sexy Career Girls
Woman Of Mud
That's Adultery
Prosti
Adultery, Chinese Style
Tatlo
Women Of Desire
Naked Under The Moon
Hex
Virgin People
Love Swindler
Tatarin
Girl With The Long Hair
Scorpio Nights
Sex For Sale
Tatsulok
36 Secrets Of Courtship
Biyaheng Langit
Sexy Girls Of Denmark
Laman
Golden Lotus: Love And Desire
Tuhog (Larger Than Life)
Dreams Of Eroticism
Legends Of Lust
Amorous Woman Of Tang Dynasty
Hong Kong Hong Kong
Kiss Of Death
Crazy Sex
Forbidden Tales Of Two Cities
The Call Girls