Metro Manila (2013 114min.) [Ch4 1.45am monday &+1]
Crime drama starring Jake Macapagal. Impoverished Filipino farmer Oscar Ramirez is forced to move to the big city to provide for his family. He finds employment as a security guard, but soon discovers his new job is not without risk.
In Tagalog +subtitles.
The early scenes of the film play out like an earnest socio-economic polemic on the state of the migratory population of the Philippines and other emerging economies.
When a cash poor farmer's crop fails once again he takes a route chosen by so many others in recent years, sells up and moves his family to the big city in search of a better life.
Once there he's very quickly parted from his tiny savings by a unscrupulous conman and things look very bleak indeed until he's fortunate enough to land a job as a security guard with an armoured truck cash collection business.
Suddenly the film changes pace and direction and begins to resemble a John Woo style thriller with elaborate plans, bloody gun battles, duplicity on all sides, stolen and reclaimed cash and a twisted and convulated plot.
English director Sean Ellis keeps the various elements (the domestic, the personal, the action) all moving forward at a neat pace and, while it may be difficult to follow all of the intricate plotlines as they interweave, it's all done with a sense of style and in an entertaining way.
If you know Scorsese's overlooked After Hours (1985) you'll be familiar with the idea of the innocent let loose in the big city and suddenly finding himself caught up in affairs that he neither understands nor can control. While Metro Manila isn't in the same class as that film it's a well-made, thoroughly involving piece of work that keeps your attention and delivers some moments of real tension as well as some first-rate action sequences .