Clash AKA Engkwentro
R2 - United Kingdom - Simply Media
Review written by and copyright: Matthew Crossman (2nd February 2016).
The Film

Richard (Felix Roco) is the leader of a gang in a Filipino city slum. He is desperate to get out of the city to Manila where his Mother lives. The Mayor of the city has declared a war on gang violence and Richard is being hunted by the City Death Squads (CDS). The CDS are a vigilante group that is, reportedly backed by the Mayor and supported in his fight against crime. It’s suggested that the CDS have murdered many teen gangsters and now they are hunting Richard. Richard needs money to pay for his escape and plans to run away with his girlfriend who is prostituting herself in order to help Richard get the money he needs. Richard’s younger brother is Raymond. Richard wants Raymond to go to school and study hard so that he does not end up like him but Raymond has other ideas. Raymond hooks up with Tomas (Zyrus Descamparado). Tomas is a smooth talking young man who tells Raymond he will get him initiated into his gang, the Batang Dilim. Richard, meanwhile, is scouring the shanty town that he lives in trying to sell anything that will help him get the money he needs by that afternoon for the boat out of the town. He sells his Father’s meths and, reluctantly, gives his watch to his girlfriend Jenny-Jane (Eda Nolan) to sell. His watch was a present from his Mother but Richard is desperate. Richard then comes across his younger brother, who should be in school, in the possession of a gun. He berates Raymond and takes the gun from him and then sells it. Unknown to Richard Raymond was getting the gun for Tomas. When Tomas finds out that Richard took the gun and stole it and is planning on running away with Jenny-Jane to Manila he rushes to confront Jenny-Jane as he wants her for himself. Richard discovers Tomas at Jenny-Jane’s home and chases him. He finally catches up with him and Richard beats Tomas. Later, as night falls, Tomas sends a message to his fellow gang members and the Batang Dilim gang go on the search for members of Richards gang with the aim of retribution. After catching and beating one of Richard’s gang the two gangs square up and a brutal fight ensues. As the battle reaches fever pitch Tomas pulls out a gun and fires on Richard. The shot misses and Richard takes flight. However, Tomas soon catches up with Richard. With Richard on his knees, a gun pointed at his chest, Tomas instructs Raymond to kill his brother with a sword. Raymond hesitates and whilst Tomas berates Raymond Richard takes his chance and over powers Tomas. Richard beats Tomas and then finally shoots him dead. Richard asks Raymond is he wants to end up like him or the dead Tomas. Raymond walks off and Richard gives pursuit seemingly forgetting that the CDS are still out there and are still looking for him.

Clocking in at just under an hour, ‘Crash’ is the story of gang warfare on the slum streets in the Philippines. The story takes place over twelve hours. Written, produced and directed by Pepe Diokno, Diokno decides to film the movie using a hand held camera. For the first thirty five minutes of the film the technique is a successful one. That first part of the film is well directed and filmed as the camera follows around the characters in one, seemingly, unbroken take, jumping from character to character as their paths intertwine. However, once the sun goes down, the footage is almost unwatchable as darkness falls and it’s very difficult to see exactly what is going on. The film ends with some facts about how one teenager is killed almost everyday in the Philippines and lawlessness is so rife that the general public have accepted this status quo as the norm. ‘Crash’ is the director’s response to this. A constant throughout ‘Crash’ is the Mayor’s voice, broadcast to his public via the radio, as he tells his public that sweeping the scum from the streets is his priority and if the gangs back him into a corner then he will respond, all the while denying the possibility of Death Squads on the streets. What the Mayor of the film fails to recognise is that crime and prostitution are rife because of the squalid surroundings his public are living. These people are a product of the corruption of the officials that run their towns and cities. Richard recognises this but for him it’s too late. He may be able to get away and start again with Jenny-Jane but for Raymond, who has to stay behind, Richard is desperate that he sees his Brother go to school, get an education, and not be forced to live a life like Richard has been forced to. Despite Richards failings and almost non existent morals it is he who the audience has to identify with and Diokno just about pulls this off. ‘Crash’ is a short and brutal film but compulsive viewing.

Video

‘Crash’ is presented in 2.35:1 with an anamorphic picture. As mentioned the entire movie is filmed on a hand held camera. Colours are almost non existent reflecting the washed out squalor of the shanty town. When the movie moves into the night time stage it is almost as if the film was shot in black and white. The picture quality is perfectly acceptable but this is guerilla film making and the picture presentation is reflected as such.

Audio

The soundtrack of ‘Crash’ is presented in Dolby Stereo 2.0. The dialogue is a mixture of Filipino/Tagalog/Visayan with rather ugly, white English subtitles. The sub titles are for the dialogue only and they maybe turned off. The Dolby Stereo soundtrack is perfectly acceptable. Background noises to not interfere with the dialogue portions of the soundtrack at any time.

Extras

None.

Overall

With a running time of just under an hour it’s fair to say that ‘Crash’ does not outstay it’s welcome. It’s a brutal film about living in a harsh environment and the effect this has on it’s occupants. Whilst the characters in the film do, at times, some rather despicable things, the viewer can still feel sympathy for their plight, living in such squalor as they do. The direction is, for the most part, very good and it’s only when the film goes into it’s night time phase that it’s difficult to follow what is going on but thankfully the shocking denouement is perfectly, and terribly, understandable.

The Film: B Video: B- Audio: B- Extras: F Overall: B-

 


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