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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jun 14, 2014

'Kamkam' (Greed) Movie Review: Violence Begets Violence

DIRECTOR JOEL LAMANGAN comes up with an extremely well acted drama in “Kamkam (Greed)” which will open in theatres on July 9. The outstanding ensemble acting of the big cast is already worth the price of admission. The story is about a minor crime lord in the slums, Johnny (Allen Dizon), who connives with the local chief of police. As the reigning kingpin in Sitio Camcam, he and his two wives, Salud (Jean Garcia) and Evelyn (Sunshine Dizon), all get along fine and control all the illegal businesses in their place. It is when Johnny brings home a third wife, Shane (Jackie Rice), that conflicts arise as Shane wants to get all the money from the illegal businesses for herself.

“Kamkam” shows that greed and corruption are present not only among affluent politicians and businessmen but even among the poor whose experience in poverty is already dehumanizing. These shady proclivities eventually lead to the destruction of families and relationships, even entire communities. What’s sad about it is that Johnny sincerely believes he’s not a bad person and he’s not doing anything wrong (just like our politicians when their corrupt activities have been exposed), when the film opens with him stabbing someone to death. He later on pays dearly for his ruthless violence, in the hands of someone he least expects to be his executioner. Violence begets violence. What goes around comes around, as the saying goes.

The standouts for us in the big cast are Jaime Pebanco as the gay thug or “baklang siga” who turns out to be Johnny’s fourth “wife”, Elizabeth Oropesa as Johnny’s protective but “kunsintindora” mother and Jean Garcia as the feisty and combative first wife. They’re all consistently good and very effective in all their scenes.

Allen Dizon as the polygamous gangster also excels in a number of highlights as his world slowly crumbles, what with the threat of demolition at that. But we feel he’s less convincing in the film’s lighter moments. Sunshine Dizon is given the less demanding role of the second wife who gets converted and becomes religious, but she tries her best to make the most of it. Jackie Rice rises to the occasion in her most demanding role to date as the greedy third wife who’s playing with fire with a former lover (Kerbie Zamora).

We just wish that Jackie’s character is not shown being arrested in the end. It would have been a more ironical way of concluding the film if she got away with the crime she committed after causing all the troubles in Johnny’s erstwhile peaceful family life.

With so many characters involved (also featured are Johnny’s five teenage kids and a rival barangay captain played by Emilio Garcia), the narrative could have easily lost its way. But Lamangan and scriptwriter Jerry Gracio correctly focuses on the more important key characters that personify the place and are more engaging to the viewer’s interest. The technical aspects are all above average, particularly the production design. The location is a character in itself, beautifully capture with a gritty look by Lee Meily’s camera which is always vigorously on the move to give the movie a sense of immediacy. We could almost smell the filthy surroundings the characters must endure.