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4.6 out of 5 stars
Metro Manila [Blu-ray]
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
There are three very good reasons why everyone should buy and watch this film. Each are as important as the next and each are truly astounding. The first is the production of the film itself, by Sean Ellis, a British film producer and director who has only recently come to my attention. The second is the actor Jake Macapagal, who plays Oscar Ramirez in this film; such a fabulous performance of utterly believable and mesmerizing intensity from him throughout. And the final reason is the role played by Althea Vega, as Mai Ramirez. Each do something very special in this film, leading this critic to label this as the best film I have seen in a very long time.

Firstly, Mr Ellis. The first thing I noticed as I was watching it for the first time today was the cinematography, the way the shots were framed, especially in the remote outer regions of the Philippines, where Oscar, Mai and their little family are resident after Oscar has been unable to work in the factory where he works. The shots of the province where the story is set are simply stunning, showing the true beauty of the place. Great care has been taken to show the beauty and the adversity in this nation, by Sean Ellis, as he tries to tell a story he himself has written, produced and directed as an independent film.

Then there is the role of Oscar Ramirez. As a film watcher, you want this man to be successful in what he does. In taking his family out of their poverty stricken region and bringing them to the metropolis that is Manila, he is taking a huge risk, but here is a man who has little hope of even buying next year's grain, let alone farming it. Ask yourself the question therefore, how far would you go to secure the safety of your little family? This man goes to ends that most of us would not even dream of, especially when his back is forced against the wall and there is no way out. One has to admire the way Macapagal plays this, with honesty and integrity throughout. The decision he has to make at the end of the story had me shouting out at the screen, "tell the truth and do the right thing" but his choice was not mine. His was selfless. His was done in love for a family that he adored and it is in essence, a message that Ellis is asking us to consider, the depth of love in the midst of hope.

And if that is not enough reason for you to spend you hard earned, then consider this. Althea Vega's performance as Mai is at times, breath taking in its power and raw emotion. I have seen great actors like Orson Wells and Derek Jacobi do that thing where the camera focuses on the face, and the eyes have to do the acting. It is a dramatic technique that one has to be proficient at in order to be able to show the emotion being shared. It is something that Althea Vega does so well in this film. You wait till you get to the point I am talking about and see the sheer power of the scene; a woman placed into a position such as she is in by poverty and the need to survive. This film then, is making a number of social comments about the nature of life in this metropolis and how that life can go terribly wrong. It is the performance of Miss Vega that for me, inspires me to write this review. It is a role that demands someone who can pull this off and she does it so well. My wife, who was watching it with me, had to get up and walk away at certain points because she simply could not take it any further. Such is the intensity of this film.

So, if you want to see a film that will tug at the emotions, make social comments aplenty, make you think of what you would do in Oscar and Mai's position and show you a figure in Oscar Ramirez, that theologians would deem a "Christ figure" in the filmic genre, buy this film. The selfless act he makes at the end is simply spellbinding and had me shouting out at the screen, "oh you clever boy!" This is a fantastic film to watch and one I intend to keep. And even that awkward moment you sometimes find when watching a film with English subtitles does not exist with this one. You are half way through and it is as if you are ignoring the subtitles and know the language being spoken. Now that is classy from Mr Ellis in every conceivable way.

Buy it; you will not be disappointed!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This is the latest film from British born director Sean Ellis (`Cash Back'). It is set in the Philippine capital Manila - hence the title. We meet Oscar Ramirez who has to leave his farm as it won't pay the bills. He takes his wife Mai and his two daughters and with a few savings heads off to find work in the big, bad city. On arrival he finds out that trust is one character trait he should have left in the village. Desperate for work Mai is soon touting her wares at a seedy bar. Oscar finally gets a job working for a security van company.

What he first thinks is his lucky break soon turns sour when he realises his new partner is not the nice guy he has been pretending to be. What follows is the story of what Oscar is forced to do and a roller coaster of a ride it is.

This film captures some of the horrific poverty that exists in Manila and juxtaposes it with the incredible wealth of some of the inhabitants. The issues can be viewed as universal and that helps gain empathy for all the players - well the nice ones. But you can even see why greed becomes a motivation for erstwhile law abiding people. There is some violence here but it is all incidental. The acting is all excellent and it can be very emotional. It had me glued to the screen for the full 115 minutes. In Tagalog so there is some English and with some very goods sub titles; this one is very easy to recommend.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 12 March 2014
Was very pleased have received my copy of Metro Manila actually earlier than estimated delivery time. Although I may be a bit biased having already watched the film in the cinema 8 times, as soon as I got my copy, I watched it once again!. Why do I love the movie so much? Metro Manila is a hard hitting, realistic look at the struggles which people are often forced to go to due to poverty to protect and help their families.

From the opening scene with the picturesque backdrop of the Rice Terraces of Banaue to the busy streets of Manila, this film charts the journey of Oscar Ramirez, (Jake Macapagal) and his family as they leave the provinces and travel to Manila in search of a better life. Oscar and indeed his wife (Althea Vega) are faced with some very difficult decisions and challenges on their journey through life. Plenty of twists and turns, Adrenalin, action and indeed utter despair all confronted in truly one of the best movies I have ever seen!!!
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on 4 August 2015
Although I like a bit of World Cinema, this was the first time I've a had the pleasure of a Filipino based film. Sean Ellis directs this superb dark edged drama, that details one family's fight for a better life.
The first hour or so, sees the much put upon Oscar (Jake Macapagal), leaving his farming roots, and seeking a more financially secure future in bustling Manila. Disappointment, and unsavoury characters seem to meet with both Oscar and his family at every turn. Then, an offer of security work brings a change in luck...
The armoured car element really doesn't come into play until midway, and it's certainly a film of two halves.
The family's complete naivety on arriving in loud, imposing Manila, is handled fantastically, marking a strong contrast to their quiet rural background. It's also quite a downbeat part of the film, where things get very lowly for all those concerned, and it does require a little perseverance.
On sticking with it, it's no understatement to say, the second half is some of the most gripping cinema I've seen in a while.
It's complimented by an extremely haunting score by Robin Foster, that really helps draw you into this dark world
Great acting from three leads - Jake Mcaagal, John Arcilla and Althea Vega, collectively making this a very believable scenario. Sean Ellis' assured direction gives very gritty feel to the proceedings, which helps to empathise with the family's plight.
Seek this one out guys....
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 31 December 2013
so no reviews for one of the best films of 2013, shame...
a simple story of a family who go from the provenance's in the Philippines to the big city of Manila, what this family get while there isn't what they was expecting, a kinda dante inferno awaits them - trying to make some hard earn peso for their child.
The husband gets sucked into crime story, while trying to keep his head above water. The wife ends up working as a 'hostess' in the 'Go-Go' bars.
I enjoyed this film a lot, having visited Philippines many times, and seeing (unfort) some of the hardships the people in Manila live in, this film (just) about manages to not to be condescending, its shot in a very 'fly on the wall' style, handheld (but thank God not bloody 'shake-y cam', you hear me Mr. Bourne) Manila is as much a character in the film as one of the actors.
Ive read a re-make its in the works, wherever or not the story will just take place in another city, or they will Americanize it and say Tan up some tosh like Ryan Reynolds and then put Lou Diamond Philips as the baddie - in it to you know keep it authentic, I don't know, I don't care.
Oh and one more thing, DONT EXPECT THE RAID PART 2, yep they is action in this, but not John Woo. Yes it was made by an English guy, same as the The Raid, most of buzz about this film at first was it going to be like The Raid-it isnt, that film is one thing and this is another.
mabuhay Pilipinas
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 January 2015
Excellent movie. Very realistic depiction of life in Manila barely at survival level, and a first-rate thriller. Always shocking to me (even though I know Manila) how little value is attached to human life and dignity in some parts of the world, and how unwilling and/or unable some governments are to do something about it. Don't miss it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 November 2014
A gripping and moving telling of the familiar tale of how life can bury the man who tries to do the right thing, set in the unfamiliar terrain of Manila. Worth every one of the plaudits it received.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 11 March 2014
It's really hard to find a good movie that will actually surprise you today...this one does it, really well.

Watch.this.film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 October 2014
This is a really engaging story and is very well acted - some Tagalog films feel stilted but this really flows. Photography is lovely too.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 12 March 2014
Amazing film with incredible plot twists and turns. Can completely see why this is BAFTA-nominated.

Absolutely fantastic - a must-see for everybody.
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