Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ang Darling Kong Aswang – Review

Director: Tony Y Reyes

Release date: 2009

Contains spoilers

I very much enjoy films about Aswang, or at least the concept of them as the films themselves can be somewhat of a mixed bunch quality wise. I have seen Western takes on the legend and home grown Filipino films.

This is one of the more unusual takes as I never thought to see an Aswang romantic comedy! I understand that Vic Sotto is somewhat of a household name in the Philippines and that his collaborations with director Tony Reyes are pretty much taking a general direction. But hey, I haven’t seen any of those films and, despite this being somewhat over-long, this was great fun.

The film gives us a brief explanation of spirits, suggesting that good spirits emerge when the sun is at its brightest but that the time of the full moon is reserved for those creatures who transform. The imagery of mananaggal and aswang fill the screen and then we cut to a group of people holding some sort of ritual led by Barang. They rub a liquid onto their skin as they begin to transform, developing fangs and claws – some taking the form of dogs we see later on.

aswang fangs
In a village a church service is being held when a Mr Kurawasa – a Japanese filmmaker – arrives to film a documentary. All would be well but the aswang sect descend upon the village attacking everyone. The scene is protracted by comedy moments – a trio of gay men fighting off the aswang for a while provide the most jokes. During the (off-screen) carnage the trio of aswang known as the three sisters spot mother and daughter Ida (Agot Isidro) and Eliza (Cristine Reyes, Patient X) eating meat that they quickly hide – later we discover this is because it was goat rather than human.

Victor with his dad
Victor (Vic Soto) works as a call centre manager in the city, where he has got his cousin Tom (Ritchie D’Horsie) a cleaning job. Tom is one of the staple comedy characters in the film. Victor is a widower, the son of the community head man and lives for his daughters Angel (Mika Dela Cruz) and Aileen (Barbie Forteza). There is a suggestion that perhaps he should remarry but he doesn’t want that. I mentioned Tom and some of the comedy is odd, like Victor meeting a woman whose car battery is flat and getting Tom to drink a poweraid drink and then charging the battery off his cousin.

eye mojo
Eliza is cornered by Joaquin (Rafael Rosell), who insists that she will be his. Ida decides to take her daughter off to the city where her cousin Banong was a house. It just so happens that (comedy character) Jerry (Wally Bayola) has broken down as his car has overheated. Victor has sent him and Tom to get water from a nearby house – the one where Banong lives. Therefore Victor is there when Eliza and Ida arrive. Eliza looks at him and her eyes turn red, eye mojo ensnaring the man’s heart.

proving she is a monster
The courtship of the couple drags on a while but then she tells him that she is an aswang. She proves this by leaping through the air with him on her back. He is not sure, then, about the relationship but soon decides that love conquers all. The two marry and we get a comedy then based around an aswang and human trying to cohabit (and keep her secret from the other humans).

Of course, the sect realise that Ida and Eliza have run away and want them back.

dog form
The lore sees aswang able to turn into dog form and, it appears, when angry or excited they develop fangs and might transform into dogs involuntarily. On the full moon the need to hunt overtakes them and whilst the three good aswang are drawn to a pregnant woman (and the scent her unborn baby releases to their sensitive noses) they manage to drag themselves away and attack a goat.

a snarl
They have eye mojo, as I mentioned, and are kept at bay by various spices – salt, garlic and ginger all work and salt burns the aswang. This leads to gags about uneatable meals because Eliza doesn’t flavour her food when she cooks. The main aswang only eat human flesh and, whilst at first dubious, Ida and Eliza discover that forrero rocher and liver pate sandwiches are good to eat.

wall crawl
Religion is an interesting aspect to this. Whilst they attack parishioners in church at the beginning of the film, Eliza cannot have a church wedding. We discover that Victor’s dad realised what they were as Victor’s grandparents were aswang who went good and his dad was helped to be rid of his curse by a local priest (Victor was unaware of his heritage). When this is done it is more like an exorcism and a dark spirit is chased from the body of the aswang, making the condition more like a possession.

could this be Tom Helsing?
To kill an aswang a variety of implements are used. There is a gun with a holy bullet and a crossbow with blessed arrows. There is a sword made from a swordfish and a whip made from the tail of a stingray. Later it seems a head shot with any old rifle will do the trick. A killed aswang falls apart and vanishes with a greenish light. However, the aswang are very strong and fast and are able to leap in superhuman ways.

Victor invisible
The last bit or lore to mention is the holy water – not used against the aswang as a weapon, as such, but put on the skin of a human it prevents the aswang from smelling the human. Victor is also given a magic stone that will allow him to become invisible for five minutes (everything these days is prone to expiration, as he is told).

Vic Sotto as Victor
This was great fun – but overlong. It could have done with around 30 minutes cut out of it. Some of the humour missed the mark for me, but one feels that much of that was cultural in basis – yet it was a genuinely amusing film for the most part. Sotto made a sympathetic lead and Reyes was beautiful and flashed good fang.

An unusual offering. 6 out of 10. The imdb page is here.


müzik dinle said...

nice article =)

Taliesin_ttlg said...

thank you

Avon Luna said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Taliesin_ttlg said...

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You have been reported as spam to blogger and will not find your links appearing on my blog.