'Kamandag ng Droga' review: Too dirty, too turdy

Carlo J. Caparas’ Kamandag ng Droga is a depressing film, but for all the wrong reasons.

It is a film that is literally drugged to death.

Each scene is literally drowning with the weight of drugs. Every character is either making drugs, taking drugs, talking about drugs, or dying from drugs. Its perspective of the country is awfully simplistic and singular – that it is disastrously riddled by an immense drug problem that can only be fixed by the drastic measures of the present administration.

Jackie Lou Blanco cradles Sarah Lahbati, who  plays her daughter in the movie

Its characters are treated less than human. They are more like pawns to the film’s blunt but shallow goal of brainwashing the public that the only solution to the drug problem is blind and uncritical trust to the authorities. Their motivations are flimsy. Their individual stories are preposterous. They exist only to paint an exaggeratedly sordid picture of a society so desperate for a savior.

Clearly, Kamandag ng Droga is propaganda. Sure, it is sloppy and gross propaganda, but it is also still very venomous.

Worst performances

Caparas has actually assembled an impressive collection of performers for his film.

Sadly, since the film has characters that are all two-dimensional clichés, the actors and actresses, most of whom have illustrious careers, are limited to displaying the broadest and fakest of emotions.

Christopher de Leon, who plays an unreasonably strict dad who turns out to be a drug addict, is reduced to throwing mean glances at his son and exchanging empty weepy pleas with his wife, played by Lorna Tolentino whose talent is also squandered here.

Ronnie Lazaro, an entrepreneurial drug manufacturer here, is effortlessly lousy. Niño Muhlach, who portrays a Chinese drug lord without any sense of nuance, is just noxious.

Lorna Tolentino appears in the movie

Kamandag ng Droga is a grand showcase of lazy filmmaking.

Caparas’ crutch is obviously the number of celebrities who can muster to appear in his film. The strategy obviously backfired, with the film feeling like a crowded marketplace of personalities peddling the same idea over and over again.

The film looks shoddy, with Caparas lacking any ambition to pair his bleak and distressing message with the right visuals and atmosphere. The film is drab, stiff, and stale. It is as engaging as a government-sponsored infomercial, only this time, it takes an entire two hours to blast the abhorrent slogan. 

Pure trash

Anna Roces and Bembol Roco in 'Kamandag ng Droga.'

Anna Roces and Bembol Roco in Kamandag ng Droga.

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Kamandag ng Droga is pure trash.

It is too dirty to be enjoyed as entertainment. It is too turdy to be taken in as an expression of sincere advocacy. – Rappler.com

 

Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' 'Tirad Pass.' Since then, he's been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.