Friday, August 25, 2006


By Reymundo Salao

I wasn’t able to go out and watch a movie last week and this week. CLICK seemed okay, but not too interesting. THE BREAK-UP was also something that I had second thoughts of (romantic comedies depress me lately) watching it. It was unfortunate that I missed out on UNITED 93 and also unfortunate that both SM City and Robinsons seemed to have no signs that it will be showing the much-awaited sequel to CLerks "CLERKS II" I hope I'm wrong. Let this be an appeal to both theaters that CLERKS II is really a movie that has concrete following. I’m also hoping that “Kubrador” and “Cavite” will be shown very soon.

Anyway, I was thinking twice of watching SUKOB. Because it is in my humble experience that movies from VIVA, REGAL, and SEIKO have a great possibility of turning out to be GARBAGE. I do not trust Chito Roño's directing because it has become stale and overly pretentious. I saw the trailer for SUKOB and it does not show a glint of originality or impact in it. From the looks of it, SUKOB looks like a mere product of the Asian horror popularity, a project that cashes in on the fad or the "uso" of horror movies. Sure, I may be wrong, but Viva and Regal have long had a history of disappointing me with their projects. I spend lots of money time and again to "give it a chance" but no, Viva, Regal, and Seiko have been responsible for putting the local industry down on its knees. Funny part is they go blame it on Piracy.

On the other hand, there has been a rise on Independent Digital Films. Projects of up and coming movie makers who make movies, not for profit, but simply to create art, simply to make a movie that can be enjoyed, and at the same time, does not take the audience for a dumb-ass. I went to the video rental shop and curiously picked up “DILIM”. Directed by Topel Lee, and stars Rica Peralejo, Emilio Garcia, and Mario Magallona.

DILIM is the story of a dark vigilante roaming the streets, brutally killing criminals. Yes, it does sound a little “old story” but there are many things to be discussed about the film. There were numerous moments where DILIM felt very tacky and corny because it employed the overly-used bullet-time graphic style pioneered by the Matrix. There were two distinct scenes which were straight out of the Matrix movie. The film also employed a very raw rendering of special effects. The insistence to use CGI on this project seems like it is a stubborn effort to create a work which is beyond their funding or skill. But then again, the producers of this project may have hoped that a big studio would pick their project and fund them properly to clean and polish the bad effects. It also had a very ridiculous theme song on the intro which immediately lessened the credibility of the film. At which point, you'd want to laugh out loud and turn off the movie, jumping to the conclusion that it was going to be another badly-made silly Tagalog film.

But it really is not. At least, DILIM manages to be deserving of your attention. A cleaner, more tight movie than most of the works of popular Tagalog films that you get from Regal, Viva, or Seiko. The very few errors or faults of this movie make it a masterpiece compared to all of last year's MMFF entries.

DILIM attempts to make a sort of a dark superhero movie the likes of The Crow or Punisher. But what makes DILIM better than the other local superhero movies or TV shows that have recently gone out is that it employs a very Filipino concept, without making it too corny or without adulterating it too much. The very sad superhero creations of late such as GMA's "Capt. Barbell", "Darna" and ABS-CBN's "Kristala" have all proved to be creations worse than what may be considered low-quality production. Those shows may have the funding and the production resources, but a production of DILIM makes them so little. Even the action scenes were more convincing than most of the old Tagalog movies. I'd like to see director Topel Lee make a serious action movie.

The plot, concept and storyline may seem to be a great big cliché, but it certainly has its excellent points. The flaws are very minimal in terms of consistency, the impact is more or less amusing, but not outstanding (too bad the VCD cover reveals a spoiler), and the originality is emphasized only in the usage of Filipino supernatural concepts. I most especially admire the concept that the main villain played by Emilio Garcia is a criminal underworld thug who drinks a potion that grants him supernatural strength. I also am amused by the usage of the police officers who investigate the DILIM vigilante. The concept is cliché, but it was delivered well without making it look fake and un-interesting. I didn’t like, however, the predictability and the inconsistency of the twist in the end as far as the policemen are concerned.

DILIM is a raw project, rough and amateurish. It may have been crammed with pretentious scenes, but it somehow makes up with its consistency. It manages to be FAR more BETTER than most of the popular Tagalog movies that have come out lately. In its cliché image, it can still manage to brag as having a bit more originality than the rest of the Tagalog films that big companies like Viva, Seiko, and Regal can produce. It may not be the best Tagalog movie you’ve seen, but it certainly is worth your attention. You can find and buy DILIM on CD & DVD shops and/or rent it on Video Rental Shops as well.

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