Urduja

I’m not going to go into technical detail. You can probably read an in-depth technical review from one of my former Multimedia Arts students. Let’s just say that the entire production would look better on TV than on the big screen because of some glitches. These can be digitally remastered, however, so I don’t have issues on this aspect. In fact, I applaud the entire team. I could imagine the hard work amidst the budget constraints of this valiant effort. Many of the techniques applied here, save for the 3D CG scenes, were very very traditional. In short: painstaking labor. We did pretty well on our first try and I hope to see more of these in the future.

As for the comments about it being too Disney. People, I hope you are aware that most of the artists that worked on this project do work for Disney either as key animators or in-betweeners. So please, I don’t really want to hear anything of that sort. We’ll come around.

What really ruined it for me was the script. Whoever thought that inserting Taglish (English-Tagalog slang) into the dialogues was a good idea had to have been smoking something organic. Or just didn’t make time to do research. Urduja‘s story is set during the pre-Hispanic period. Choose your language: pure Filipino (or Pangasinense) for authenticity or pure English for ease of comprehension. Add subtitles if you need to. Don’t bastardize both languages in a film that’s supposed to have cultural relevance.

Emphasis again on research. I know Disney screwed up Pocahontas’ history by giving her a love angle with John Smith (who was at least 3 decades older than her in real life), but I thought we could’ve been smarter than that. Urduja was a warrior-princess, who declared that she will only marry the man who defeats her in battle, causing so many other warriors to avoid her for fear of embarrassment. In this movie, she not only is embroiled in a love triangle but also sings about not being treated seriously because of her gender. I guess people forgot that the Philippines used to be highly matriarchal during the pre-Hispanic era! You can’t just twist a woman’s arm into marriage. You friggin’ proved it by showing your masculinity and providing her family with a hefty dowry!

I’m going to nitpick even further by stating that Urduja commanded an army of male and female warriors who were renowned fighters and equestrians. I didn’t know that riding water buffalos, as what’s often depicted in this motion picture, would turn one into an equestrian…

The male protagonist, who actually took over for Urduja halfway through the plot, is the dashing Chinese pirate Lim Hang. He could’ve been lovable as a character, as manly as Mulan’s Shang, if he just didn’t break into a ballad written by Joey de Leon and Ogie Alcasid. It’s just so out of character.

It took a while to get to the meat of the story. The entire plot is overburdened with sub plots that you’d feel you were being swung this way and that. Very unfocused. There wasn’t any room for character development either. In fact, the only remotely interesting character I found there is Daisuke, Lim Hang’s Japanese right hand swordsman. He’s very handsome (much more than Lim Hang), quietly supportive, has really impressive sword skills. And the voice actors had to murder his name by pronouncing it “Daisooooke”.

I will still buy the DVD, only because I highly support the artists and animators that worked on Urduja. I just wish they could’ve gotten producers, directors and scriptwriters that had more (and real!) concern about history and education than commercial value.

On an interesting note:
My cousin, Firesenshi, was able to find an old old Filipino movie entitled Urduja. It starred Amalia Fuentes and Vic Vargas.
http://andrewleavold.blogspot.com/2008/03/chiquito-filmography-1970-1975.html

Rating: 6/10

3 Comments

  1. Beatrice Margarita V. Lapa

    September 2, 2009 at 3:54 am

    COMMENTS FROM THE OLD SITE:
    1. chameme (http://shizofree.multiply.com/) says

    DAISOOOKE! and racist comments yey! bow legged, badjao’s all looking alike and racist chinese font!

    June 22nd, 2008 at 10:34 am

    2. molly says

    UGH. Now I know why Mark ranted about it so. Stupid historical inaccuracies are soooo Disney =/

    June 22nd, 2008 at 11:07 am

    3. skysenshi says

    i know, right??? i still have so many comments going through my head but they’re not fit for public consumption. hahahaha! i’ll just leave the detailed ranting to cham.

    (i couldn’t believe that he turned poetic while writing a review. hahahahaha!)

    June 22nd, 2008 at 11:15 am

    4. firesenshi says

    One of the reasons it didn’t interest me to see the movie was that the trailer showed Urduja running with the birds and the bees in the mountains which makes it look like Pocahontas. I know that a lot of Pinoys worked in Disney or Pixar but so did the former creators of anime in Japan. Yet they managed to make it their own. I was hoping we would do the same.

    There was a 1970s or 1980s Filipino movie of Urduja. I can’t remember the actors there but I thought that it was good enough for a low budget Filipino movie in the 1970s or 80s. I just remembered that Rudy Fernandez played Tiem Pu, one of Urduja’s Chinese suitors. (I wish can remember that movie!! I was googling it and couldn’t find it!) Anyway, in this movie, she got married to a Filipino chieftain, who she didn’t like at first, but bested her in combat. In this movie, it’s clear that she’s a female warrior and chieftain.

    Oh yah… I also didn’t like Regine Velasquez so that’s one of the major reasons I didn’t watch it. I don’t know… she just doesn’t strike me as the best person to embody a strong and beautiful Filipina warrior since she had her nose done and always went to Belo to make sure she has milky white skin instead of embracing her morena looks.

    I’d rather Karylle since she played Alena in Enkantadia anyway and she’s pretty too. She may be mestiza but at least she’s not faking her looks.

    Also, I’m not quite comfortable with Urduja falling inlove with a Chinese pirate. It’s true that a Chinese pirate called Limahong was all over the Spanish back then and Filipinos engaged in trade with the Chinese… and also that a lot of Chinese settled in Pangasinan even before the Spanish came… BUT… this kind of storyline is too “Hollywood.”

    You’re right that they should’ve given concern for the script on history and educational values rather than commercial value. Above all the animation, it’s the story and ORIGINALITY that carries it through. Without a good original story, (and such a shame because Urduja is probably the only pre-HIspanic girl power babe that we can claim as ours), it’s just a fancy Disney ripoff.

    June 22nd, 2008 at 11:25 am

    5. skysenshi says

    Wow, you’re right! Karylle playing Urduja would’ve been more fitting. (I actually don’t like Regine. Sure, I had one album of hers, but I usually find her voice too…painful to listen to.)

    Now, if we can find that old Urduja movie. It sounds pretty interesting. Maybe they should’ve used the same plot for this one.

    As for the animation…those things are easy to fix. We already have the technology for it. What’s difficult to fix is the story. Without a good, solid story, all efforts in drawing, scanning, DIPing, compositing, x-sheeting etc. are lost. Sayang talaga.

    June 22nd, 2008 at 11:36 am

  2. Beatrice Margarita V. Lapa

    September 2, 2009 at 3:55 am

    COMMENTS FROM THE OLD SITE (Continuation):

    6. Keane says

    Well….I guess that the production company will learn lots from the reviews!! hahaha these points just irked me a bit:

    1. Urduja wasn’t much of a warrior-princess like in the legend

    2. Lim-hang is a perv

    3. The woku samurai looks like samurai jack! XD

    last but not the least, the animation seemed to become less fluid in some scenes, considering that we do in-betweens for disney, that should be on the contrary .__.

    June 22nd, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    7. eehgow (http://eehgow.com/blog) says

    Jeffrey Quizon dubbed “Daisoooke”. Haha.

    June 22nd, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    8. Rowena Lei (http://animetric.multiply.com/) says

    Urduja herself looks like a cross between Pocahontas and Mulan…

    June 22nd, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    9. skysenshi says

    @keane
    omgawd. same thoughts. chameme actually screamed, “samurai jack!” when daisuke appeared. and yeah, we decided right there and then (you know what scene we’re talking about) that this cartoon is not for kids.

    @eehgow
    it’s a good thing he was a decent dubber.

    @rowena
    it’s really in the costume. it wasn’t colorful enough. i guess budget constraints were considered but they could’ve at least given her ibaloi warrior clothing. in fairness, urduja is actually hotter than pocahontas up close. hehehe.

    June 22nd, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    10. Elly says

    I don’t like Regine Velasquez for oh so many reasons, but I’d buy this on DVD too just for the sake of supporting local animation studios. They’ve been dreaming of something this big for some time now, so I’d give them kudos for finally pulling it off after 4-5 years planning/procrastinating/arguing. lol.

    Might not be as pretty as a Disney/Buena Vista or Dreamworks stint, but you’re right, we did good on our first try. 🙂

    Nice review! 😀

    June 25th, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    11. skysenshi says

    Actually…it was 10 years in the making. Planning included. Heavy, no?

    June 25th, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    12. Garuda says

    At least your review is more constructive than my comments found in someone else’s review. I really jabber a lot in Ryan’s blog: Geek of All Trades.

    Good on you for pointing out the flaws in the film. I don’t doubt the talents of the Filipinos as well, but boy…that script…I can’t find any more expletives to add my list of former expletives that describes it. It brings down the whole film. It’s sad because I thought the industry have improved since Ibong Adarna. This made me promise to myself not to see any more projects coming out of Apt Productions. Will you blame me for being this cruel? Probably.

    June 30th, 2008 at 2:06 am

    13. skysenshi says

    I can’t help but be constructive because I belong to the same industry and I know how hard it is to come up with a full-length 2D animation feature, especially when it’s done traditionally.

    But gawd, that script. You’re right that it brings everything down. All that effort going to waste. Very few people actually knew of Urduja so this script did more damage than good. Not everyone is going to research Urduja to know what it was like during her time. Most kids will just take this movie’s word for it.

    It has no educational value and doesn’t teach anything about respect (for culture, history and our natural resources).

    That tarsier? Kids don’t know that tarsiers are actually very sensitive animals. They don’t like noise. They get depressed when disturbed and have been known to commit suicide when that happens. Putting tarsiers in that kind of light may actually endanger them even more.

    Hm. Actually, I think they can remake this…non-traditionally next time. I mean, it’s not unusual for animators to retcon a story. Look at The Hulk 2003 and 2008. Hehehe.

    June 30th, 2008 at 5:46 am

  3. skysenshi

    May 20, 2010 at 4:54 am

    I know that a lot of Pinoys worked in Disney or Pixar but so did the former creators of anime in Japan. Yet they managed to make it their own. I was hoping we would do the same.

    How would you know if it wasn't Disney who imbibed OUR style and not the other way around, since many Pinoys do work as key animators and in-betweeners? We make a lot of assumptions when we've only seen the finished product, not what's happening inside the production studios.

Leave a Reply