NILALANG is the first Metro Manila Film Festival entry I’ve seen this year during its premiere night at the SM Megamall Cinema 10. It was a quick invitation but I do admit now that the main motivation to watch the movie is to see the famous Maria Ozawa in the flesh. I mean, why not? It’s about time to discover if the Japanese AV superstar can act without the need of stripping off her clothes.
The movie starts with an impressive flashback and opening credits. From there, the audience automatically knows that the people behind this project are good in terms of visuals as the quality is top-notch. It will make you feel proud that a Filipino film can compete with its Asian neighbors in making such movies.
History goes way back to 1602 when two brothers were fighting against a man who was possessed by an evil spirit named Zahagur. I remember sitting at the edge of my seat with the sword scenes between the three characters. Even the credits rolled out a nice timeline of important events in Japan and the Philippines.
Modern day story starts with NBI Agent named Tony Cuevas, who in 2013 made headlines after killing Nakazumi, a Japanese criminal who was notorious in killing women in a certain fashion. As a female viewer, you’d find some of the images a bit disturbing (that explains the R-16 MTRCB rating).
By 2015, a series of killings once again popped up. Together with Agent Jane (played by Meg Imperial) and the SWAT Team (Dido dela Paz, Kiko Matos and Cholo Barretto), they’re out to search who the violent culprit is.
The case became personal when Tony’s ex-girlfriend (played by Aubrey Miles) was not spared from the series of crimes.
Okay… I will slow down from now on. Maria Ozawa plays the role of Miyuki, the eldest daughter of a Yakuza who is now living in the Philippines. The Japanese lady undeniably has a strong screen presence and it is obvious that she is trying her very best to do well in this project and she doesn’t disappoint. Her chemistry with Cesar Montano is so strong and I kind of wish they were given more scenes. Why are they close friends? Is Tony also part Japanese? What is the age gap between the two characters? Those weren’t answered.
Meg Imperial is a revelation in this film. I admit it – I’m one of those who questioned why she was given a drama lead role way back. I can say now that action is her strongest point as she looked very convincing as an agent in her scenes at the same time she’s still exuding that ‘innocent’ aura. Remember Angel Locsin’s GMA-7 days?
Yam Concepcion had a short but memorable appearance in the movie as the youngest sister of Miyuki. She was able to pull off a sexy but creepy scene.
The trio of Dido dela Paz, Cholo Barretto and Kiko Matos were really convincing. It reminds you of a barkada at work who have different personalities, but you all get along.
The fight scenes in the movie were inspired by Japanese and Asian action sequences. The overall feel of the movie reminds me of the gangster films we enjoyed during its heydays.
There’s no question about the action, but the character and story development is lacking. I couldn’t really empathize with either Tony, Miyuki or Jane and the ending left its audience in a hanging position.
I can say that Nilalang is a man’s film. You will enjoy the fight scenes, be engaged in some of the chase scenes and be impressed with how the stars portrayed their roles. I think Cesar Montano is a good replacement to Robin Padilla, although I would also love to see how the Bad Boy of Philippine Movies will portray the role. I hope Nilalang gets a distribution deal in other countries especially Japan. This is a strong debut for first-time feature film director Pedring Lopez.
I honestly hope this movies does well in the box-office in order to encourage the producers to do more movies like this.
If they’re thinking of doing a sequel, I suggest they add Diego Loyzaga and Sofia Andres as the protege of Agent Tony and Agent Jane. Saw them at the premiere night and I think they’ll do good in an action-packed film!