San Diego Asian Film Festival’s Spring Showcase: Manila in the Claws of Light

Sunday, April 14, 2019, 12:30 p.m.

Where: UltraStar Mission Valley at Hazard Center, 7510 Hazard Center Drive, San Diego | get directions

Cost: Not available

Age limit: Not available

Fellow day-laborers view new hire Júlio (Bembol Roco) as a professional drifter who lighted on their unscrupulously-managed construction site just long enough to spend a few months mixing cement before passing through. In point of fact, it’s romance (and proximity to the offices of Chua Tek), not randomness that brought him to town. Ligaya (Hilda Koronel) was appropriated (with her mother’s consent), and sold into a life of prostitution. An apartment above the trading company’s office was her last known whereabouts, and Júlio will stop at nothing, even accepting work as a call boy, to find his lost love. The opening passages — with their then-fashionable abuse of attention-focusing zooms and hastily glued-together action scenes — brought to mind the string of tropical, Roger Corman-produced “chicks in chains” exploiters of the period (The Big Bird Cage, Women in Cages, etc.). Earned respectability on the part of director Lino Brocka was as inevitable as the hardening of his lead character. For many, this is the Pearl of the Philippines’ cinema and this could be your only chance to catch the spruced-up 4K restoration of this urban mystery cloaked in gritty shades of film noir.  — Scott Marks

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