Ang Bagong Dugo movie review
What do you get when you combine some of the most intense actors in an action-packed, drama-laden film? Probably one of the most satisfying 2 hours of Filipino filmmaking. That is exactly what 3JS Production, director Val Iglesias, the rest of the crew brings to the table with 'Ang Bagong Dugo'. This also happens to be Joem Bascon's first action film. It has been a while since we have had really talented action stars in the Philippines. We even wrote about his potential as the next Robin Padilla in a previous article.
From the preview materials that were provided to us by 3JS Production we had the understanding that the movie is rated PG, and we wrote about this in a our preview article for 'Ang Bagong Dugo'. Perhaps it's just me, but upon viewing the film the amount of violence, nudity, sex, and profanity does not seem suitable for a PG rating at all.
Update (04-Jun-14): I have confirmed with Jovie of 3JS that Ang Bagong Dugo is rated R-16
During the premiere night 3JS had to make sure there were no kids in the audience, which surprised me since I thought we were watching a PG film. It could be that we were viewing a director's cut, and a toned-down version that qualifies for the PG rating will be released to the theaters.
If there's one thing that carried the film, it's superb acting by the main cast.
Is it really Joem Bascon's first time to do a lead role in an action film because he was just too good. He carried the role so well and quite convincingly - nobody could have played 'Anong' better than him. He could improve a bit on showing more emotion in the drama scenes though. When was the last time you saw an action film where the lead actually cries? He does in this one.
Joem has the look and feel of a young Piolo Pascual, and Piolo is one hell an actor.
Although Joem played a very good lead, the real surprise of this film is Ian Ignacio. For a supporting role Ian plays Victor so well that he could easily match Anong pound-for-pound. In this film they actually get to do that too, getting into a brawl that ended abruptly with no clear winner. Not only is his acting good, he gives justice to his action scenes. His background in taekwondo really helped in delivering kicks that looked flawless on-screen. It was quite a surprise to see someone aside from Monsour Del Rosario to possess both acting and fighting prowess. ASTIG!
Ian has so much potential as an actor that I would not be surprised to find him in a leading role - hopefully soon. Really looking forward to his next performance.
Do we even need to say anything about Mark Gil? His inclusion alone in the film made the film worth watching. Thankfully he gets a lot of screen time. Just to give you an idea of how solid his performance is, imagine this: almost everyone in the film drops the P.I. word, but what if you put everyone in one room and have them say P.I. to one another? Everyone would probably bow down to Mark, just as every inmate bowed down to his character as Supremo. Not only is Mark Gil the king behind bars, he is also the king of the show. He should get an award.
Though he had a very limited screen time, Alvin Anson's performance made his scenes something to look forward to. His presence was so strong that he dominated every scene he was in. It would have been interesting to see both him and Mark Gil in one scene - that would be so intense.
Monsour Del Rosario and Roi Vinzon also give intense performances. They made every scene they appeared so much fun to watch. Efren Reyes Jr, Prince Acevii Panlilio, and Dick Israel also gave short but sweet performances.
Alma Concepcion gave a really intense performance as Rowena. We will not reveal her role in the story for now, just watch the movie to find out!
This is where the film falls a little short. In some dialogue-heavy scenes the sound was amplified to the point where unnecessary ambient background noise could be heard, making it sound "dirty". Some deadening materials could have helped, in addition to using continuous mood music to cover up the ambient noise.
Loudness leveling is another issue in Bagong Dugo. This is very noticeable in the scene where Supremo first visits Victor and Anong in their cells. Every time the camera changes angles the sound quality also changes. When the scene shows Supremo from afar his voice is fine, but when it zooms to a close-up shot the sound becomes very weak - almost inaudible. It really takes away from the film because there is a lot of heavy dialogue and the lack of volume makes it a challenge to understand.
As with many locally produced films the sound throughout the film lacked dynamics and range, though this is mainly due to the type of equipment used.
The music was okay, but I feel it was not maximized to its full potential. Ambient music could add a little more excitement in some of the scenes, and they could have used Wolfgang's signature track 'Ang Bagong Dugo sa Lumang Ugat' a bit more. For such a powerful single, it was used sparingly in the film.
Visuals and filmography
For a Filipino action film the visual effects did not feel cheesy at all. There were no randomly-exploding cars, the fight scenes looked realistic, and the flow was fluid overall. Storytelling is done in a non-linear fashion and that requires great care to be properly delivered and understood by the audience.
There are a lot of cuts and flashbacks and overall, the flow felt alright. There were some points in the film where I had question marks but at no point did I feel lost.
This is the part where the movie really shines. The story is intelligent and entertaining at the same time. I feel that they could have developed Alex's character even more, given that she plays the leading lady and is actually revealed to be an important character later in the story.
The climax and the ending was quite satisfying.
Overall, 'Ang Bagong Dugo' feels like a welcome break from all the romantic comedies, heavy drama, and fantasy films currently dominating the Philippine film making industry.
Check out the full trailer for 'Ang Bagong Dugo', as well as our exclusive photos and videos from the opening night.