Children’s Show

Children's ShowVerdict: Value for Money

Pinoy Rebyu Score: 3.62 (21 ratings)

Genre: Drama

Director: Roderick Cabrido

Writers: Ralston Jover, Roderick Cabrido

Cast: Buboy Villar, Miggs Cuaderno, Divine Grace Aucina, Gloria Sevilla, Nathan Lopez, Allen Dizon, Suzette Ranillo, Jacob Clayton

Synopsis: Children’s Show is a film based on a real-life story of children aged 10-15 years old being used by a syndicate for underground wrestling.

MTRCB rating: PG-13

Running time: 90 mins



5.0         J. Neil Garcia

“This basic plot line might appear to come straight out of a ‘poverty porn writing workshop,’ but the film does an amazing and altogether tremendous job humanizing–and yes, dignifying–this entirely hopeless world, by peopling it with characters who come to cinematic life in all their simple and luminous brokenness… and so, it’s true: wonders never cease; here and now i admit to standing shamefully corrected: there’s a way to depict abject poverty and suffering in our cinema, without the whole thing turning repulsively patronizing, orientalist, or patently exploitative, and it’s through the beatitude of good filmic storytelling as well as simple and effective dramatization–artful decisions that shun the perfunctory ironies and allegorical mannerisms most flagrantly in evidence in works that channel the Brocka legacy.” (Read full review)

5.0         Jessica Zafra (InterAksyon)

“In Roderick Cabrido’s film, life beats people to the ground, but they refuse to be broken. On the surface the film appears to follow the miserablist social realism template of ‘serious’ Filipino indie cinema (i.e. poverty porn), but then it turns around and offers, if not hope exactly, then the possibility of it.” (Read full review)

5.0         Katrina Stuart Santiago (Manila Times)

“The greatness of Children’s Show was the effort it took to tell this story with a careful hand, creating two lead characters who face the adult world as children, and seeing that task to its unexpected end.” (Read full review)

5.0         Gelo dela Cruz (Beyond Your Five Senses)

“I love how (Cabrido) effectively draws his audience into a blackhole of downward emotions without being didactic. The most notable is the juxtaposition of the ill conditions of the protagonists as they render service being pedicab drivers to students who are as old as them.” (Read full review)

4.5         Jason Jacobo (Young Critics Circle)

“The striations of social thought which keep Ralston Jover’s screenplay taut are unraveled with a directorial verve that sure knows which cobalt tones of atrophy must be intimately grafted into the panoramic argument as image and sound through Mycko David’s igneous photography (the delirium that consumes that fight under firelight is astonishing) and Bryan Dumaguina and Jonathan Hee’s sedimentary musicality (the punk irreverence of the sound that tracks the noise around the frenzied fight club runs on a beat syncopating what could be a deathly heartburn).” (Read full review)

4.5         Renelson Morelos (Ramblings of a Film Urchin)

“Working on a strong screenplay written by Ralston Jover, Cabrido neither passes a judgment on nor makes an apology for the kids’ awful plight. Utilizing a cinema verité style, the film in fact offers no hope for the children finding a way out from their lives inside the ring. The film is quite grim and unflinching in how it suggests that through force of circumstances and the children’s resignation, such a way of life is bound to continue for long.” (Read full review)

4.5         Manuel Pangaruy (Tagailog Special Presents)

“Malinaw ang gusto nitong ipakumpara sa pagitan ng boksing at totoong laban sa buhay. At madalas na natatalo ay ang mga bata mismo. Impressed ako sa mga sinulat ni Ralston Jover at hindi kakaiba ang pelikulang ito.” (Read full review)

4.0         Rob San Miguel (Brun Philippines)

Children’s Show is gritty, brilliant and bold. Its approach may not be entirely original, but director Roderick Cabrido managed to infuse some originality in an unexpected way.  Beautifully photographed and skillfully edited, the film is engaging to follow.” (Read full review)

4.0         Dicot Alvarado (Letterboxd)

“It provides a terribly compelling look at what happens when people force children to act like adults and make mature and dark decisions far beyond their capacity at such a young age. And it does so with some hefty skill in staging and visuals.” (Read full review)

3.5         Philbert Dy (Click the City)

“My main reservation with this movie is in the way the fights are shot. I’m not entirely comfortable with how stylish they look. They look like they could be scenes out of Ong Bak, the movie almost fetishizing the violence with its penchant for slow motion and dramatic lighting. It undoubtedly looks great, but one has to question the decision to make these awful, awful fights look great. Otherwise, this is a pretty solid movie with a smart dramatic core.” (Read full review)

3.5         Zig Marasigan (Rappler)

“There is no denying the exemplary rawness of the rest of the film, not simply in its fights, but its characters. While other films would condemn its subject matter by punishing characters who advocate it and liberating those who don’t, Children’s Show relies on none of those. Instead, it presents its characters in a way that allows audiences to pass their own judgment.” (Read full review)

3.5         John Tawasil (Present Confusion)

“Visually the film hammers down the physical aspect of that violence into our eyes with gritty slow motion shots of kids getting the crap beat out of each other. It’s normal for us to see this in your usual action movie, but seeing kids get the same treatment? It’s a bit unsettling (and that was likely the point.)” (Read full review)

3.5         Nicol Latayan (Tit for Tat)

“The way the film goes back and forth to hopeful and depressing is mostly smooth, and its intensity really crosses the brink and just a little bit beyond. There’s a certain amount of rawness with the two lead actors’ deliveries that make it more affecting than expected, and it just pulls you in” (Read full review)

3.5         Mario Bautista (Showbiz Portal)

“The film works mainly because we totally sympathize with the two boys and the miserable life they live. It’s truly an injustice for any child to be subjected to the kind of existence that they have. We just wish their story were given a better conclusion.” (Read full review)

3.0         Emil Hofileña (Cinemil Movie Reviews)

“The fights could have been directed or edited much, much better. I kinda get that you don’t really want to show the fights too gratuitously because it is kind of a delicate subject matter but you could have still edited them in a way that didn’t seem fake or didn’t seem like you were missing a frame or something. Same goes with the sound. They really should have paired up these visuals with better sound because when you watch these kids fighting and you don’t really hear any of the punches, it takes you out of it.” (Watch full review)

3.0         Jaynormous Mind

Children’s Show successfully incorporated a compelling drama about family while conveying the sad truth of poverty. The two main characters Al and Jun’s tough love for each other is fun to watch and it made for a sadder story when they had to face their biggest obstacle in life as brothers – it’s not the underground wrestling or poverty, it’s their father (Allen Dizon) who likes to steal their money.” (Read full review)

2.5         Richard Bolisay (Lilok Pelikula)

“Director Roderick Cabrido deviates from it to favor a drama that is, by all means, engaging and worthy to look at, but he fails to consider that the viewer itches to learn more about these gruesome matches and discover details and nuances, how these arrangements have come to pass, what allows this terrible system to continue, and in what way does it implicate the failure of many social institutions to be on the side of the poor and help them lead better lives.” (Read full review)

2.5         Don Jaucian (Philippine Star)

“Cabrido builds an interesting world off these characters, with Villar and Cuaderno’s chemistry fleshing out their uncanny zest for life despite the miserable world they live in.” (Read full review)

2.0         Dustin Celestino (Filipino Freethinkers)

“In Children’s Show, the characters seem to have been robbed of any chance for improvement. There was nothing any of the characters could have done, there was no decision the characters could have made, to significantly affect where the story was headed.” (Read full review)

2.0         Carl Papa (Whatever Carl)

“I felt unaffected.  Maybe because of the sub-genre being worn out.  I just wish that something new was shown apart from the humongous chicken apparition.  It was one common sequence after another.  I could not shake that feeling of ‘only dismal things happen to poor people’.” (Read full review)

2.0         Skilty Labastilla (Pinoy Rebyu)

“By making the fight scenes look and feel like they’re inspired by Van Damme kickboxing movies, complete with super slo-mos and thrilling drum beats, Cabrido unwittingly fetishizes the very violence and exploitation that the film ostensibly exposes.”

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