PRODS Josabeth Alonso, John Victor R Tense, Armando Lao
SCR Zig Dulay
CAM Louie Quirino
ED/PROD DES Lawrence Fajardo
MUS Joseph Lansang
PROD CO Quantum Films / Cinemalaya Foundation
Dragons & Tigers regulars will have noticed how the Cinemalaya Festival in Manila is transforming independent production in the Philippines. By co-financing low-budget features which are premiered in the festival, it has brought dozens of ambitious projects to fruition and given breaks to many new directors. Case in point: Lawrence Fajardo, who edited Paul Sta. Ana’s Oros and here directs, designs and edits his own debut feature. Very impressive it is, too.
Stealing a middle-class woman’s smartphone is the biggest mistake in the petty-criminal life of Jestoni "Jess" Biag (singer Nico Antonio in an attention-grabbing performance). It not only gets him locked up and waterboarded, but also gives him a crash-course in the workings of the deeply corrupt system personified by his nemesis Inspector Domingo. The phone’s memory contains an embarrassing video, which makes the owner Grace Rosuello determined to get it back; her persistence lands Jess in custody. The script has the wit to provide a context for his "education" by including glimpses of other criminals, others complainants, some of them very amusing. But the focus is on the process which turns Jess from a street thief into something much worse, and it’s presented in whip-sharp scenes which waste no time on melodramatics or phony emotional posturing. Fajardo’s powerful film gives the term "police procedural" a very dark twist.
— Tony Rayns