Dukot: Movie Review

dukot-posterMost recently, it was reported that director Paul Soriano’s Dukot has been selected as the Philippines’ entry to the prestigious Los Angeles Film Festival which will happen this October. I felt that it was a well deserved honor for a film that managed to accomplish insane levels of suspense with a combination of great technical skill, superb acting and a simple yet compelling story that hooks audiences into the plot. This review may be delayed but on all counts, here’s my take on why the film fest nod was more than deserved.

The Sandovals are a middle class family who are going through tough times as a family. The family patriarch Charlie (Ricky Davao), a Customs employee, is faced with corruption charges amid a massive revamp in the bureau. As if he wasn’t going through enough, his relationship with his son Carlo (Enrique Gil) is also faced with challenges as his son goes through a rebellious phase. When the eldest daughter Cathy’s (Shaina Magdayao) yoga studio is held up, the culprits take Carlo at gunpoint and hold him for ransom far more than what the family can afford.

A round of applause is well deserved all around for the filmmakers and the cast of this gripping movie based on true events. The film successfully sets the mood and tone of the film with a soft ominous background music that hints at danger from the very beginning. The establishment of the characters from the Sandoval family to the perpetrators was truly effective to the point that audiences would feel a sense of danger for the character of Carlo from the first look at the CCTV footage until he was held hostage in the remote hideout. The Medina brothers Pen and Ping portrayed their roles as the film’s main villains flawlessly, so well that I was at the edge of my seat worried about what they might do to Carlo at any point. Christopher de Leon, on the other hand, delivered a character that was uneasy to predict which only fueled questions on his motivation.

Enrique, on the other hand, was challenged to perform beyond his typical leading man roles. In Dukot, his resigned portrayal of a hostage unsure of whether he would be saved by a father who he was not in good terms with was a perfect foil for Ricky Davao’s resolve to save his son no matter what the cost, even at the expense of his reputation. Carlo was the MVP of this piece, as he showed a grit and presence of mind to help himself even when he felt that all hope was lost.

The good thing about the film was that there was an equal balance of exposure on the family’s end as well as the kidnapper’s end which makes the sense of urgency in the film all the more compelling.

Direk Paul does not go to excessive dramatics to convey the message of a family tested to the extreme but rather tapped into the strength of each member of the production to deliver an execution worthy of international attention.

From the cinematography, to the scoring, to the script, to the acting — all of the elements worked together to make for a truly suspenseful, cerebral and emotional ride that strips down the glitz that comes with the name of its superstar cast and reshapes them as the characters that they have signed on to portray.

All in all, Dukot perfectly delivered a film with multiple layers that appealed to the audience emotionally and mentally, and that is a testament to the film’s commitment to delivering something worthy of spending their time and money on.