Sundalong Kanin

SUNDALONG KANIN POSTER_1Verdict: Value for Money

Pinoy Rebyu Score: 3.60 (19 ratings)

Genre: Drama

Director: Janice O’Hara

Writer: Jerry O’Hara

Cast: Nathaniel Brit, Isaac Cain Aguirre, Akira Morishita, Elijah Canlas, Marc Abaya, Art Acuña, Gardo Verzosa, Via Veloso, Enzo Pineda, Paolo O’Hara, Ian de Leon, Che Ramos, Diana Alferez, Dante Balois, Angelo Martinez

Synopsis: Set during the Japanese Occupation, four friends (Nitoy, Benny, Carding, and Badong) aspire nothing more than to become soldiers fighting the Japanese… until they are confronted by the realities of war that threaten to destroy their families and their friendship.

MTRCB rating: PG-13

Running time: 120 mins



5.0         Zig Marasigan (Rappler)

“In Sundalong Kanin, there are no innocent victims. There is no good and evil. Everyone, from the highest ranking officers to pedestrian civilians all play a role in the brutality of conflict. It is an ambitious film, not simply because of its setting, but also because of its complex script. Fortunately for audiences, it all comes together in a way that makes Sundalong Kanin one of the must-see films of the festival.” (Read full review)

5.0         Shayne Zalameda (Misstache)

“After watching it, you will end up devastated and wonder why war, the most selfish and unnecessary concept of mankind, even exists.” (Read full review)

5.0         Gelo dela Cruz (Beyond Your Five Senses)

“Janice O’ Hara’s courageous efforts in showcasing the loss of child innocence during war times is remarkable as the Philippine cinema rarely tackled it. She magnificently presented the harsh times during that era (with a limited budget!) which was told through the eyes of the children but she made sure that it was not your-ordinary-period-film-used-in-history-class as she focused rather on the friendship of the four characters that underwent into a drastic change.” (Read full review)

4.5         Nicol Latayan (Tit for Tat)

“What it has up its sleeve is a heartbreaking coming of age tale of what happens when you’re confronted by your dreams at an early stage in your life. Director Janice O’Hara’s approach of opening the film in a somewhat comedic manner before seamlessly shifting to serious made the whole transition more effective.” (Read full review)

4.5         Ghio Ong (Philippine Online Chronicles)

“The film’s harsh depiction of the theme successfully brought out the seriousness of the children to survive the war amid their innocence, especially acting-wise… The film may have no powerhouse cast, but all the actors – especially the four children – had their brilliant moments.” (Read full review)

4.0         Skilty Labastilla (Pinoy Rebyu)

“The film lives up to the promise of Cinemalaya, which is to showcase outstanding works of emerging indie filmmakers. The loss of childhood innocence in war-time has been mined by many filmmakers but not nearly enough in the Philippines, and the O’Haras craft a heartbreaking yarn where kids are forced to come of age for them to survive.  It is a potent argument that a period film need not require a humongous budget and big-name stars: it only has to tell an engaging, humanistic story; feature excellent acting (the four boys here are uniformly superb, though the notoriously hammy Marc Abaya nearly ruins it with his bug-eyed villainy); and be imaginative with its visual design. A spectacular debut. Mario O would be proud.”

4.0         Philbert Dy (Click the City)

“The film is pretty great. The plot is simple, but the emotions get crushingly complex. In the end, this isn’t a movie about a simple conflict between two sides. The real battle here is between the ideals of the kid characters and the brutal reality of warfare. There are no clear choices. No real good guys or bad guys. It’s all just a bunch of people trying their best to get through a terrible situation.” (Read full review)

4.0         Rob San Miguel (Brun Philippines)

“Director Janice O’Hara skillfully balances the poignant, the terror, and surprisingly, even the silliness of conflict. Class conflict is not ignored, and simplistic moral judgment is not shoved down your throat. The young actors gave heartfelt and brave performances but Marc Abaya stands out from the rest.” (Read full review)

3.5         Jason Jacobo (Young Critics Circle)

Sundalong Kanin tackles the world-historical in an instance of war through children’s woeful apprehensions of bare life. The method that instructs the recalcitrant gang to distinguish between homicide and sacrifice can only be fraught with a neurasthenic impulse to reckon with the passage of time as if a decision between manhood and humanity should also be cast. Caught in this nebulous thought, the film encounters a problem with milieu; the visual design cannot quite decide on what dark patina of traumatic enervation should remain in the foreground, but the young ensemble manages to locate the urgency of a reverie to participate in an amorphous historical instance. The finale is a gripping set piece that intimates the vibrance of contemporary cinema’s premier sister act: Janice and Denise O’Hara presenting a slice of Mario’s Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos and completing the case for a cinema that refuses to derive from the world time’s incalculable losses.” 

3.5         Emil Hofileña (Cinemil Movie Reviews)

“While the production design isn’t great, you’re still invested in this world, you believe you’re in the Japanese Occupation. Whatever deficiencies this movie had visually, the script and the direction were good enough to not make us worry about that so much.” (Watch full review)

3.5         John Tawasil (Present Confusion)

Sundalong Kanin is relentless in its depiction of war and the effect it has on those most vulnerable to it. Additionally, it depicts war where the emotional and physical damage can come from both sides of the conflict. It pulls no punches in the way we are dragged through the personal hell these four kids, and the people of the village go through.” (Read full review)

3.5         Dicot Alvarado (Letterboxd)

“It shows what happens when people are driven to extremes and the unreadiness people, especially children, experience when they are caught within dreadful situations. But though it deals with a topic which is more than superb, I’m afraid I’m not entirely sold on the experience as a whole, mostly due to the fact that the film could use some better, cleaner, and maybe smarter presentation.” (Read full review)

3.5         Irvin Malcolm Contreras (Letterboxd)

“This should have been the Filipino entry to the subgenre of war movies from the POV of kids/teens: Hope & Glory, Ivan’s Childhood, etc. By the end, it reached its potential but the road getting there was very clunky.” (Read full review)

3.0         Renelson Morelos (Ramblings of a Film Urchin)

“Viewers can clearly see how one thing leads to another, how a character’s action is met with a corresponding reaction. In the film’s war-torn universe, poetic justice is what governs the order of things. This is all fine, if only things didn’t always appear to be having an urgent need for an operatic turn of events.” (Read full review)

3.0         Carl Papa (Whatever Carl)

“Major kudos to the kids who acted in the film. I thought they were all great. They overshadowed all the older actors in the film even though some of them are overacting.” (Read full review)

3.0         Manuel Pangaruy (Tagailog Special Presents)

“As it is, ayos naman sa akin ‘yong finished product. Ang problema ko lang sa kanya, hindi na ako masyadong nabigyan ng espasyo upang namnamin s’ya. Isiniwalat na lahat. As in lahat-lahat, wala nang itinira.” (Read full review)

3.0         Jaynormous Mind

“You can never go wrong with Sundalong Kanin: even if it’s flawed, it managed to be likable and engaging. It’s funny, light-hearted, deep, heart warming, depressing, crazy, suspenseful.” (Read full review)

2.0         Richard Bolisay (Lilok Pelikula)

“The crudeness is understandable, leaving this air of innocence and inexperience suited to its gruesome coming-of-age story, but the moment the kids talk about the imminence of war and take reckless actions during the Japanese occupation, it turns into a disappointing high school production where efforts are rewarded based on tolerance, the viewer predisposed to allow its good intentions eclipse the obvious flaws of execution.” (Read full review)

1.0         Ian Rosales Casocot (The Spy in the Sandwich)

“What it finally becomes is an exercise of unfortunate and clumsy filmmaking. The actors are miscast, the script has a porous consistency, and the production design — crucial for a period film — is virtually non-existent.” (Read full review)

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