Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Review of RINGGO: THE DOG-SHOOTER: Mending Major Mess-Ups

July 5, 2016




The 3rd World Premieres Film Festival (WPFF) is currently running from June 29 to July 10, 2016, organized by the Film Development Council Philippines in cooperation with the Cinematheque Centre Manila. It has a Filipino New Cinema showcasing contemporary indie films screened in select cinemas all over the metro (Cinematheque Centre Manila, Uptown Cinema, SM North Edsa, SM Megamall, Greenbelt 3, and Shang Cineplex).

The six entries in competition vied for awards which were presented last Sunday night. The winner for Best Picture is Alvin Yapan's "EDSA", which I hope I can still catch. However, I did get to watch the Second Best Picture "Ringgo, the Dog Shooter", which also won Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay. Despite this acclaim, I saw some pretty harsh ratings for "Ringgo" in social media (including a 0/5), and this made me even more curious to go see it for myself. 

Ringgo (Sandino Martin) is a 16 year-old apprentice dog-shooter, a person who facilitates the mating of two dogs to assure a good chance of conception. When his master Mang Willy (Bodgie Pascua) suddenly fell ill, Ringgo took over his job. His luck changed when he was hired full time as a pet caretaker by Bong (Janice de Belen), a butch lesbian who kept various breeds of dogs in her home. 

Their love for dogs, particularly for an abused Doberman named Inca, bonded the two closely as they faced their own personal problems. Ringgo had to deal with his Uncle Frank (Bembol Roco, Jr.), an adoptive father for whom he owed a lifelong debt of gratitude despite being an abusive alcoholic. Bong had to deal with her own father issues, as well as her relationship with her life partner, the beautiful vet Dr. Alva (Liza Dino Seguerra).

Sandino Martin initially had to play a tough, stoic street urchin, a boy abandoned by his drug addict mother. Martin had a difficult challenge to show the slow process of healing his broken character experiences. He was able to deliver very well in a some well-crafted dramatic scenes, one with Inca and a couple of scenes with Bong, to highlight this to us.  He was not an easy person to like at first, with ugly hairstyle, uncouth manners and annoying attitude. He eventually does make us feel for his plight later as the film went on.

Even if the title role belonged to Martin, the showier role belonged to Ms. Janice de Belen. She was really convincing as the masculine Bong, in her short-cropped hair, tattooed arms, muscle t-shirts and her love scenes with Alva. Her confrontation scene with Bembol Roco, Jr. may have seemed extreme and out of place, but she pulled that off gutsily. There was no denying that she deserved that Best Actress Award for this transformative performance like we have never seen her before, as well as for those tenderly maternal scenes with Ringgo. 

With a background theme like dog-shooting (an occupation I only learned about today), there was a preponderance of scenes and references of a sexual nature that pervaded this film. These sex scenes may have given this film some cause for controversy, but for me they did not seem entirely necessary to build up its central message of healing. On the other hand, they even detracted from this message by sending confusing signals. 

That side plot about Ringgo's affair with a flirty neighborhood beauty Emily (Micha Oteyza) felt extraneous. It could have been cut out entirely without affecting the story. The same is true with that side plot about Alex (Manuel Chua Jr.), the sex pervert stalker of Alva. In fact, that Alex story ended in a climactic bloody scene which turned out unintentionally hilarious, nearly ruining the whole film. 

With this film, director Rahyan Carlos and veteran screenwriter Ricky Lee convey a most reassuring message of how healing can happen even to the most damaged among us, and this healing can come from the people who may not even be related by blood. This core essence was effectively delivered mainly because we all saw how the close relationship that developed and forged between Ringgo and Bong (as very well-portrayed by Martin and de Belen) which led to their respective healing and redemption. 6/10. 


17 comments:

  1. great review, this film sounds very dark, but with a good lesson in the end.

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  2. It looks like there are so much to learn from this film especially with life in general. The story is interesting, I've never heard a film like it. I'm glad that they were able to deliver the message to the audience.

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  3. The changes took its toll with the actress Janice de Belen in the story. Well, it's the plot but sex scenes are always the filler in some Filipino movies. I think, this is good for some moviegoers.

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  4. This looks like an intriguing story. Looks like it has a deeper story

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  5. Janice de Belen is really a good artist. She always acted convincingly. Though this is rather a bit too serious movie for me.

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  6. It's a really unique plot with some dog owners being able to relate. It would be interesting to see Janice in a different role.

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  7. Reading your review makes me wonder how would sex scenes make the film better. Sometimes, less is more. Maybe the screenwriter took "sex sells" too literally. But at least they managed to convey the message the intended!

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  8. Unique plot and seems like a dark movie. Is this only available in the Philippines?

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  9. This is a nice review from you about the movie.This movie looks very dark but can lean a good lesson from it.

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  10. To begin with, its a very complicated story. I'm sure not everyone would have even understood the movie. Many a times romance & s*x does end up distracting the movie.

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  12. Nice to know that Janice De Belen is getting movie acting gigs. I do remember her to have the talent at the prime of her career. She was a lead.

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  13. Brilliant review. This movie teaches us life is indeed a mystery in creating help where one least expect which can bring healing, restoration to redeem a lost soul. Thank you for bringing this review so close to us, Fred!

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  14. I think the sex scene is made just as a ploy for people who are interested into such art. What's good about the screenplay is that it has featured and introduced a fresh character yet again of Janice de Belen as an actress.

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  15. I see you trying to salvage and help redeem the movie by stating the good points. but 6/10 isn't exactly a good rating to get me watching!

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  16. I have not heard much about this movie but reading your review, i think this controversy is maybe just a promotion style.

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  17. Like you, it's also my first time to hear of dog shooting as an actual job, i thought you just put dogs together and let them go at it. Anyway, the characters are interesting, like Janice's, so i might try to catch it

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