As one of the eight entries to this year's Metro Manila Film Festival, Nilalang started making noise earlier this year when Robin Padilla announced he was pulling out from the project and was later replaced with Cesar Montano. Many also awaited former Japanese adult film star Maria Ozawa's Philippine film debut. Even with its up and downs, the film proved it deserves a slot in the MMFF with it's ambitious storyline and visual imagery.
In Nilalang, Montano plays a celebrated special crime unit police officer who successfully solved a high profile serial murder case three years ago. Fast forward to present day and an eerily similar set of murders that have started happening all over the city and the police are stumped. Montano and his partner (Meg Imperial) seek the help of Ozawa who plays the eldest daughter of a Japanese crime boss who is the key to finding the murderer.
Amidst all this, the city of Metro Manila is shown in quite possibly at its most beautiful with the night scenes showing moviegoers a city in shots that make it seem foreign and all too familiar at the same time. It's no wonder the film brought home awards for Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, and Best Editing at the MMFF Awards Night. At times when the story lags or turns ludicrous, the impressive production design, lighting and the well-chosen scenery almost make up for the sometimes unforgivable lapses in storytelling.
Montano seems too at home playing the macho alpha male officer who is used to getting all the ladies. From his ill-fated ex-girlfriend Aubrey Miles to his besotted co-worker Meg Imperial, his character seems to take it all in without batting an eye. Ozawa looks stunning onscreen with her character Miyuki's extensive body art and figure hugging outfits. But to expect more than that would be a stretch as her action scenes with the dark forces will leave action fans feeling a bit shortchanged. Given her fan base, expect a token romantic scene with Montano that will show some skin, but nothing more (given the film's R-16 rating given by the MTRCB).
Another reason to watch the film is the impressive musical scoring that almost makes us wish the soundtrack was available somewhere. Throughout the movie, songs ranging from Pinoy rap to other original songs were chosen to set the mood for the scene. Rapid and catchy music also helped amp up the audience for the action sequences which helped enhance the overall impact of Nilalang. A definite reason why it bagged Best Festival Sound and Best Musical Score awards as well this year.