Cavite is a movie written and directed by Ian Gamazon and Neill Dela Llana about a second generation Filipino-American named Adam who returns to the Philippines and finds out his family is taken hostage by terrorists. He is forced to follow instructions from the hostage-taker via cellphone (think "Cellular" in the P.I.) to commit acts of terror in Cavite city. I caught this flick on TV and although the action was fairly slow, the first-person vantage point was effective and the shaky digital cam delivers a documentary like perspective.

The movie is not without its flaws. The hostage-taker's voice and dialog seemed more humorous than threatening at times - like an old tito making teasing remarks. The character of Adam is one-dimensional and Gamazon's performance was too self-conscious and studied - almost as if he was reading lines off props. Despite these flaws, I enjoyed Cavite, mainly because it was nice to see the Philippines on film. Even if much of it was trash filled rivers, polluted city streets and hungry hustlers. The cinematography of hectic Cavite city ends up being the most effective aspect of the film and lends some needed gravity to the situation.
As a second generation Fil-Am, I could relate to the running theme of Adam's struggles with his Filipino identity. Not only is he panicked by the hostage situation, but he's overwhelmed by being lost in an unfamilar city in his ancestral land. If I was in his shoes, I would be helpless as well. I would undoubtedly need a tour guide if I visit the P.I. Adam's identity issues are a little overdone and forced when infused in his running conversations with the wise-cracking hostage-taker. He questions Adam on why he doesn't speak tagalog even though he understands the language. Again he sounds like a humorous uncle and I doubt that was the intention. In addition to giving instructions to commit crimes, he also forces him to eat balut in order to "taste his homeland". Part of me wanted Adam to run into Anthony Bourdain or Andrew Zimmern as he tried hard not to vomit the balut on the street.


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