Posted by: cardcrusher | 12/23/2009

Kubrador: An Underrated Gem

Kubrador (Bet Collector) is one remarkable  film that gets lost among the shuffle when others discuss quality Filipino films. Unlike Kinatay by Brillante Mendoza, it’s director didn’t win best director at Cannes. Heck, it wasn’t was not even shown at Cannes.  Nonetheless, it’s really one of the best films of 2006.

Kubrador is reminiscent of  Vittorrio DeSica’s Bicyle Thief and Fernando Meirelles’ City Of God in terms of style and content while being brutally honest about the realities of the life of the Philippines’ underclass. The way the film is shot draws the audience close to at best, working class Filipino neighborhoods.  Through the plight of a lowly jueteng (an illegal local game sort of a mini lottery) bet collector, the viewer is presented with a view of the Philippine underclass where people from the bet collector to the local gambling boss have to play their parts in the corruption that permeates the country. While it has its messages (politically and socially), the film is never preachy or heavy-handed. Jeffrey Jeturian, the filmmaker, doesn’t paint the characters with a judgmental brush. From the unemployed man (tending to his cock-fighting pet)  nudged into making a bet to the cop supervisor who arrested the protagonist but who also made a bet, the viewer is given the clear decision to judge who is the villain if there is even one present.

A notable aspect is the superb acting by Gina Pareno. She truly deserved all the acting awards that she won for that role. The film’s effectiveness depended on her subtle and natural performance.

Fans of world cinema ought to watch Kubrador. It might not be as conventional as Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Amorres Perros, but it doesn’t have a lesser bite (no pun intended) compared to the Mexican film.

Filipinos should definitely take the time to view the film. It’s been so common to hear them complain about the lack of quality local films, but when quality stuff is out there, they don’t go out to support them. Jeturian and producer Joji Alonso should be lauded for making such a gem. Alonso, a lawyer by trade and training, is a benefactor that is needed by Filipino cinema.

Further reviews:

NYT

Village Voice

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Responses

  1. I’ve been hearing rave reviews about this movie, and honestly I am a fan of Gina Pareno’s fantastic acting, so this goes into my list of movies I must watch before I die. The Bicycle Thief is also on that list. Oh I hope I find the time.

    • I’m glad you’ll be watching Kubrador in the future! I was able to get my original copy for only 150 pesos.

  2. another low budget indie film….

    • Pinoyski
      And your point being what exactly? Low budget and indie status are not barriers to making great films.


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