REVIEW | ‘Ang Panday’ goes ‘indie’

Coco Martin directs and stars in 'Ang Panday.' Photo screengrabbed from the movie trailer.

This is Coco Martin’s directorial debut—and my first “Ang Panday” experience. Expect crude special effects, but for Martin’s first directing stint (as Rodel Nacianceno, his real name), it’s not bad.


Flavio is the grandson of the original panday (blacksmith). When the demonic Lizardo (Jake Cuenca) starts spreading darkness in the streets of Tondo—well, in the entire metropolis, Flavio sets out to save the world.

The treatment is a fresh mix of indie and fantasy. Shots of Tondo, Flavio’s hometown, reminds you of Brillante Mendoza films, creating a more raw and realistic mood in an otherwise fantasy film.

Martin’s Flavio is delightful as a roughneck; his crass, fearless personality makes him entertaining. What’s odd, however, is his bedroom; the walls plastered with classic American films, such as  “Carlito’s Way,” “Godfather.” So he’s a cinephile. It may not be impossible, but it’s out of character. Here’s a thug who spends most of his time in the streets. If Nacianceno had shown at least a sequence of him watching “Godfather,” or quoted from the cult classics, it would have added more humor and personality. And credibility.

Although the movie is entertainingly fast-paced and the action sequences engaging, with several impressive shots, the movie feels too rushed. The zippy editing doesn’t give you enough room to breathe or feel much. It’s like watching a movie on fast-forward. The movie lingers, however, when it is promoting LGBT, which is delivered in a hokey and contrived manner. As if it’s the heart of the film.

Because of the speedy treatment, it is hard to enjoy Flavio’s journey. No build-up or thrill. The aswangs are not scary—and worst, Cuenca’s Lizardo is not threatening. He’s also better when he’s not speaking. As soon as he opens his mouth, you’ll find yourself mentally pleading, “Please, don’t ruin the scene.” His performance is too theatrical and calculated. There are also characters that yell during normal conversations, or sound too sing-songy. Nancianceno should learn a trick or two in acting direction.

Overall, “Ang Panday” is tolerable—mainly because of the refreshing treatment and the occasional wit. The film doesn’t really take itself seriously and is pretty shallow, with a sad imitation of “The Hobbit.” But there’s enough fun, humor, action, and entertainment to get you through the movie.

2.5 out of 5 stars

In cinemas Dec. 25, 2017, as part of the Metro Manila Film Festival