Cavite (2006)


Critic Consensus: A gritty, low-budget thriller, Cavite takes us on a heart-pounding ride through the seedy Filipino underworld.


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Movie Info

A young man unwillingly becomes embroiled in a terrorist plot in Cavite, a low-budget digital video project from Filipino-American co-writers/co-directors Ian Gamazon and Neill Dela Llana. The film, shot with a jittery hand-held camera that is almost constantly in motion, opens with a panic-stricken man bringing a bomb onto a Manila bus, then cuts to San Diego, where Adam (Gamazon) is working nights as a security guard and seems to be wasting his life away before he gets a call from his mother in the Philippines, telling him he needs to come home. He's sent off by a protracted transcontinental telephone argument with his American girlfriend, but things get much worse for Adam when he lands in Manila. His mother doesn't arrive to pick him up, and he soon discovers that someone has slipped a package containing a cell phone into his backpack. The phone rings, he picks it up, and his life is changed forever. On the other end of the line, a sinister voice tells Adam that his mother and sister are being held hostage, that his every move is being watched, and that if he doesn't do exactly as the voice tells him, his family will be killed. As he's led on a grisly tour of the impoverished Cavite region, Adam, a lapsed Muslim, soon realizes that his tormentor is a member of the notorious Abu Sayyaf terrorist group, which is fighting the Philippine government to get Muslim control of the southern section of the country. While sending him through his mysterious "assignment," the caller mocks Adam for his American ways, and his lack of awareness of his own culture. Cavite was selected by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art for inclusion in New Directors/New Films in 2006. ~ Josh Ralske, Rovi

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Edgar Tancangco
as Adam's Father
Norma Tancangco
as Adam's Mother
Quynn Ton
as Little Sister
Nestor Lagda
as Mr. Tabachoy
Jeffrey Lagda
as Luggage Thief
Solita R. Nadal
as Woman With Cellphone
Junior Aglian
as Mr. Tabachoy's Kid Hostage
Rico Agliam
as Mr. Tabachoy's Kid Hostage
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Critic Reviews for Cavite

All Critics (40) | Top Critics (15)

Its herky-jerky camcorder style, jump-cut editing and sustained takes soon wear out their welcome.

Jul 27, 2006 | Full Review…

Cavite will go down in history as a classic of no-budget filmmaking, making such ingenious use of bare resources that it's a wonder the movie is an effective, even thoughtful thriller.

Jun 30, 2006 | Rating: 3/4

This is by no means a polished film. But it has an energy lacking in thrillers that cost hundreds times more to make.

Jun 16, 2006 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Though the film seldom deviates from its thriller format, Gamazon and Dela Llana astutely weave in matters of political, cultural and religious importance, elevating Cavite well above mere genre.

Jun 3, 2006 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

One of those blistering no-budget thrillers, like Open Water or Detour, in which the film's economy of means is the trigger for its ingenuity.

May 31, 2006 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

A microbudget exercise in sensory overload that leaves you sick on all sorts of levels.

May 30, 2006

Audience Reviews for Cavite

In "Cavite," Adam(Ian Gamazon, who made this film with Neill Dela Llana), 32, works as a security guard in San Diego when he gets the call to return to his native Philippines. Along the way, he finds out that the worst place to find out his girlfriend is breaking up with him and intending to have an abortion is at a pay phone in an airport. Upon arriving in Manila, he finds himself in an episode of "Mission: Impossible" when he discovers a carefully placed cell phone and handset in his backpack. The voice at the other end of the line gives very detailed directions and, despite his karaoke aspirations, makes perfectly clear what will happen to Adam's sister and mother if Adam does not follow them to the letter. Of all its early tone shifts, the one "Cavite" is not really aiming for is suspense, as it slowly and carefully dispenses information while showing off the Philippines to their worst advantage, much to the consternation of the local tourist council. As much as the movie wants to have something thoughtful to say on the local situation, one has to wonder whose side the movie is on, not just politically, but also philosophically, especially with a protagonist as feckless as Adam.(Anytime someone uses a specific age north of 30 in a movie is not out to be kind.) The kidnapper uses homophobic slurs, not so much to be hateful, but as a way of going after Adam's masculinity while also questioning the level of his beliefs. And as much as the movie wants to shock us with racism in the epilogue, I am pretty sure nobody has ever said those exact words before.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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