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.