If you're an AlDub fan, you might have already decided that the movie you're going to be watching this week is Imagine You & Me. The movie of course is headlined by Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza who are otherwise known to non-Filipinos as "those two people you see on billboards everywhere." But to those who are looking for something else to watch, it might be worth your while to give Dukot a shot. It's the latest film from director Paul Soriano, who most Filipinos might know as "that guy who married Toni Gonzaga." However it would be unfair to label him as only that because he has proven time and again that he's a capable filmmaker. He's able to do so again in Dukot.
Dukot is based on the story of a real-life kidnapping in Metro Manila. In the movie, Carlo (played by Enrique Gil) is a son of a middle-class Customs official who gets kidnapped by a group of criminals. It's up to his family to find a way to release him from this terrible ordeal. Dukot boasts of a star-studded cast with veteran actors such as Ricky Davao (who plays Carlo's father) and Christopher de Leon (in the role of a benevolent kidnapper) co-headlining the movie. Shaina Magdayao and Bing Pimentel play the roles of Carlo's sister and mother, respectively, while Alex and Ping Medina, Bangs Garcia, and Dino Pastrano round up the group of kidnappers.
Seeing the Medina brothers endlessly bully Enrique
is almost worth the price of admission
The movie gives us a harrowing look into the experiences of those involved in a kidnapping—the victims as well as the perpetrators. But while the story is pretty straightforward, it was done in a tone and a style that we haven't seen so much in local movies. When you watch a movie from Star Cinema, don't they all look similar? If Marvel movies have their Marvel Cinematic Universe, it wouldn't be a stretch to suggest that there's a Star Cinema Cinematic Universe. This film is the exception. I don't know whether Paul Soriano did this on purpose or not, but Dukot looks very similar to the crime movies by Hollywood directors Michael Mann and Tony Scott. It's grittier and darker, and it works to set the tone for the film.
Another thing that doesn't get the attention it deserves in Philippine cinemas is the musical score. I think even the most passive audience members will agree that the score for Dukot added so much to the tension and emotions that we felt while watching the movie.
However I think Dukot could have delved more into the other themes that it was trying to explore, like corruption in the government. Rather than just explaining it to us through dialogues and flashback scenes, it might have been better for us to see corruption at work and how it affects the characters in the story. Ricky Davao being a Customs official was an interesting subplot but I don't think it would have changed the story drastically if he was a businessman instead.
Don't worry Enrique, you'll have Liza Soberano
to come home to when all this is over
You might dismiss the movie just because Enrique Gil receives the top-billing—and I can't blame you for doing so. With all due respect to Mr. Gil, he hasn't really given audiences a compelling reason to be excited about his movies. Not unless you have a thing for his rom-coms with Liza Soberano or kinaladkad ka ng girlfriend mo para manuod kasi type niya si Enrique. Has he ever had a movie that didn't find an excuse for him to show off his dance moves somewhere in the middle? I don't think so.
But Dukot is the perfect example of how sometimes, all it takes is the right material for an actor to show us what he's capable of. It's refreshing to see Enrique Gil in a role that finally allows him to show off his talents and not just be a pretty face. As the kidnap victim, he goes through all sorts of abuse at the hands of the kidnappers and at one point even resembles Antonio Margarito after going toe to toe with Manny Pacquiao. Ito lang ata yung nag-iisang beses na magiging mas gwapo tayo kesa kay Enrique Gil so we should relish it.
Tito Boyet as the shotgun-toting Manong Johnny. Not to be confused
with the Bejeweled-loving senator of the same nickname
The rest of the cast deliver convincing performances with Davao and de Leon being the noteworthy examples. But we've come to expect this from them already. You just know that whatever the material is, they'll be able to deliver. However, credit should also go to Shaina Magdayao as well as the Medina brothers, for being able to showcase their talents in this movie.
Although Dukot is definitely a movie you should watch, it feels like Soriano's best work is still ahead of him. But it's great to have a Pinoy director tackle topics that do not involve love triangles or yung "kabitan" that local audiences don't seem to get tired of. Hopefully it gets more support locally so that other filmmakers will have the courage to tell their own stories as well. You can watch Imagine You & Me if you like but maybe you can find the time to watch Dukot as well. It doesn't have to be just one or the other. There's a lot of room at the top for both Filipino movies.
7.5/10 A well-directed suspense thriller about a real-life kidnapping. Nice to see an actor like Enrique Gil finally show off his acting skills.
Rey de la Cruz Jr. likes talking about films as much as he likes watching them. He runs www.reyview.org, a site that provides Filipino moviegoers with reviews written in a voice that is uniquely Pinoy.