Metro Manila (Blu-ray) (2013)

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Released 24-Jun-2015

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Crime Drama Featurette-Behind The Scenes-(26:18)
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Start-up trailers x 5
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2013
Running Time 114:26 (Case: 124)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Sean Ellis

Madman Entertainment
Starring Jake Macapagal
Althea Vega
John Arcilla
Mioses Mag Isa
Angelina Kanapi
Reuben Vy

Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Robin Foster

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Linear PCM 48/24 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

†††† Oscar (Jake Macapagal), his wife Mai (Althea Vega) and their two infant children go from a small village in the Philippines to Manila in the hopes of finding a better life. Looking for a place to stay they lose all their money in a rent scam and, destitute, end up in the shanty towns on the outskirts of the city. Desperate to feed her children Mai takes a job as a bar girl in the seedy establishment run by Charlie (Angelina Kanapi) while Oscar looks for work. His luck changes when, due to his army background, Oscar is hired as an armoured car guard in the security company run by Buddha (Mioses Mag Isa). He is taken under the wing of the experienced driver Ong (John Arcilla) who helps Oscar find a decent place for his family to live and introduces him to the other drivers including JJ (Reuben Vy). Things seem to be looking up for Oscar but in Metro Manila everyone has a secret agenda into which Oscar and his family are inextricably drawn.

†††† The director / co-writer / cinematographer of Metro Manila is Englishman Sean Ellis and he has delivered a tense, human, sad and compelling drama about an honest man caught in a spiral of deceit and manipulation. Shot in the Tagalog language of the Philippines, utilising numerous images of life on the streets of Manila and featuring natural dialogue and impressive performances by Jake Macapagal, Althea Vega and John Arcilla, Metro Manila feels down to earth and authentic. Macapagalís Oscar is a good man, a naÔve innocent from the sticks, a loving husband and father with faith in God and hope for a better life for his family and watching him being manipulated and used by others is heart-wrenching. You know that, with its realism, Metro Manila is not going to have a tacked on Hollywood miraculous happy ending, and it doesnít. Yet, for all that Metro Manila is not a depressive film but manages an ending that is both poignant and uplifting.

†††† Metro Manila was shot in the Philippines in the Tagalog language with a Pilipino cast but is not considered a Philippines film. Instead it is a UK film and was the UKís nomination in the best foreign language category at the 2013 Oscars. In another piece of news, Ellis has already sold the remake rights to Twentieth Century Fox. Somehow I doubt they will keep his ending.

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Transfer Quality


†††† Metro Manila is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code. The IMDb does not give the original aspect ratio but the framing looks right, so I think 1.85:1 is the correct ratio.

†††† A lot of Metro Manila looks as if it were shot, often on the streets of Manila in both day and night, using hand held digital cameras with natural light sources. As a result this is quite a soft looking print which does however aid the feeling of reality and life on the street. Blacks are fine, although shadow detail can be indistinct. Colours are on the glossy side but look nice and without that digital yellowishness under lights. Brightness and contrast are consistent.

†††† I did not notice any marks or artefacts.

†††† Burnt in English subtitles are provided in a clear yellow font. They appeared timely and contained no obvious spelling or grammatical errors.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


†††† Audio is a choice of Tagalog DTS-MA HD 5.1 or Tagalog LPCM 2.0.

†††† The audio track is very good. From the opening section dialogue is clear and easy to hear, the gunshot sharp and with depth. The surrounds and rears are used frequently for music and ambient sound such as insect, bar and crowd noises. There are some panning effects, such as engines or a siren, and the subwoofer provides appropriate bass when needed.

†††† The score by Robin Foster is effective and adds to the filmís visuals, but is mostly silent during one on one dialogue scenes which adds to the sense of watching real people.

†††† Lip synchronisation was fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Behind the Scenes Featurette (26:18)

†††† An interesting look at Metro Manila, its origins, financing, casting, locations and the director. Includes interviews with the executive producer, producer, co-screenwriter, editor and cast members JM Rodriguez, Jake Macapagal, Althea Vega and John Arcilla, on set and audition footage. Rather surprising, at least to me, is that there is no interview with co-writer / director / cinematographer Sean Ellis. All the interviewees speak in English.

Film Trailer (1:49)

Start-up Trailers

††††On start-up trailers for Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer (1:51), Reality (2:10), Tiny Furniture (2:28), Boxing Day (1:50) and Third Star (2:21) play. They cannot be selected from the menu.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

†††† The Region B UK Blu-ray of Metro Manila seems identical to our release except for the start-up trailers. There is no Region A US version listed at present. Buy local.


†††† Metro Manila is a compelling thriller driven by wonderful natural performances by Jake Macapagal, Althea Vega and John Arcilla and a script that grabs hold of your heart and mind, takes unexpected turns and refuses to let go. This is quite special, and will probably be another foreign language film that ends up with a very different feel and treatment when it is remade by Hollywood. Donít wait however; see this original if you enjoy thrillers with humanity and realism.

†††† The video is fine, the audio very good. The featurette is worth watching.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Saturday, August 22, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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