Eddie Garcia is back in Cinemalaya, and Martial Law is also making a comeback, though not in the way you’d think. Here’s my review of Benedict Mique’s ‘ML’.
The opening scene of the film sets us up pretty early for what we’re about to expect from this film. It then loses a bit of steam, as the first few sequences of the film after the horrifying opening scenes feel like a mismatch with the overall tone of the film. These scenes feel and sound like they’re from some 80s teen movie, complete with awkward dialogue and cringe-worthy background music, but in hindsight, this actually may have been done intentionally.
The tension starts when we see our antagonist who starts going through the various methods of torture, and if your eyes, heart, and hands are not prepared for these scenes, then this film might not be for you. However, if you do manage to stomach these scenes and stick around to finish the film, you’ll probably learn a thing or two about this dark period in our country’s history. There’s also a bit of humor injected in each scene, which may seem out of place for a film like this, but it actually works.
The film sure knows how to build suspense, but at times, the scoring gets a bit out of touch. Sometimes it feels like two totally different tracks mashed into one, but it’s not too bad, it’s not enough to ruin the experience. Though the OST, coming from rock master Mike Hanapol, adds a nice touch to the film as it serves as a perfect background to the sadistic nature of the film.
There’s no question, Eddie Garcia delivers in this film. He is, in the words of this film’s director, ‘the actor of the century‘. He’s menacing as senile retired Coronel whose mind seems to be stuck in the dark days of Martial Law, and he’ll most probably bag this year’s Best Actor award once more, as he’s always won the award with his previous Cinemalaya films.
Tony Labrusca is pretty good for a beginner, his accent sometimes gets in the way of his acting, but overall, his performance was good for his first movie. Henz Villaraiz is also good, and is quite a scene stealer, as most of the comic relief comes from his interactions with Eddie Garcia‘s character. Lianne Valentin is daring and brave enough to do some of the most sensitive scenes in the film, especially for her age, and it all pays off for her.
ML is brutal and violent, with a subtle dash of humor. It’s also pretty honest with its message. It serves as both a reminder for those who lived through those dark ages, and a warning for future generations not to repeat the same mistakes they did. It is uneven as a whole, but all in all, it’s still a pretty good watch.
My Rating: 8/10
Here’s the trailer for ‘ML’: