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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Lino Brocka: Two Films [Blu-ray]


Manila in the Claws of Light aka "Maynila: Sa mga kuko ng liwanag" (1975) + Insiang (1976)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Cinemanila

Video: BFI



Region: 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Manila in the Claws Runtime: 2:06:22.125

Insiang Runtime: 1:34:04.291

Manila in the Claws of Light Disc Size: 48,014,498,722 bytes

Insiang Disc Size : 42,406,618,499 bytes

Manila in the Claws of Light Feature Size: 36,843,471,552 bytes

Insiang Feature Size: 27,716,614,464 bytes

Video Bitrates: 34.80 Mbps / 34.96 Mbps

Chapters: 12 + 12

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: March 20th, 2017



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 / 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio Tagalog 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
The Guardian Lecture: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps



English, none



Manila... A Filipino Film (Mike de Leon, 1975, 23:01): fascinating making-of documentary featuring interviews and behind-the-scenes footage
Manila stills and collections gallery
Visions Cinema: Film in the Philippines (Ron Orders, 1983, 40:12): Tony Rayns interviews Lino Brocka and other prominent Filipino directors.
Signed: Lino Brocka (Christian Blackwood, 1987, 1:23:30): award-winning, feature-length documentary exploring the director's life and work
The Guardian Lecture: Lino Brocka in conversation with Tony Rayns (1982, 62 mins, audio only)
Illustrated booklet featuring a new essay by Cathy Landicho Clark, an archive interview with Lino Brocka and full film credits.

Two DVDs (one for each film)



BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray Manila in the Claws of Light TOP

BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray Insiang - BOTTOM




Description: Filipino director Lino Brocka was a force of nature in world cinema, his powerful work illuminating the harsh social realities of life in his home country. His films have been largely unavailable on DVD and Blu-ray but now, thanks to Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Project, his two finest works have been rescued from obscurity and restored in 4K.

A fascinating portrait of life in Manila's corrupt, teeming urban jungle, Manila in the Claws of Light finds Julio, a 21-year-old rural fisherman, arriving in the Filipino capital to look for his girlfriend. Robbed of his cash, he struggles to survive drifting through the city in search of his beloved.

Insiang is the story of a girl who, having been raped by her mother's boyfriend, seeks comfort in the arms of her would-be suitor Bebot. Finding him little better than her attacker, she is forced to return home where she sets about exacting her revenge.




The Film:

Manila can even be seen as a precursor to Jia Zhang-ke's recent A Touch of Sin, with its extended scenes of working-class struggle punctuated by moments of harrowing, highly stylized violence. Like Jia, Brocka suggests that violent reactions should be expected from a society that preys on its vulnerable. By the time Julio reaches his final confrontation with Ligaya's pimp, an act of stupid, violent catharsis feels like his only possible course of action. When it first screened at Cannes in 1978, the word around the festival had it that Manila was a “dirty” movie, perhaps because it's characters were criminals, homosexuals, and the homeless, but also, perhaps, because it had the gall to treat poverty as an ignoble tragedy for which violence is a rational response.

Excerpt from Slant Magazine located HERE


Lino Brocka's films combine popular melodrama, political import, and intense realism with a vivid, economical style. Made on impossibly low budgets on the fringes of the Philippine film industry, his movies have an urgency and immediacy that spring both from Brocka's burning ideological commitments (he was one of the most outspoken critics of the Marcos regime) and his resourceful, imaginative approach to the exigencies of borderline production. Set in the Manila slums, this 1976 effort is centered on a teenage girl struggling to stay afloat in the overwhelming, dehumanizing poverty that surrounds her. Her mother, who operates a tiny fish market, takes in a local hood as a lover, but the thuggish pretty-boy is clearly more interested in Insiang. After he rapes her (in a single-take sequence astonishing in its curtness and brutality), Insiang plans her revenge—a revenge that is also a revolution against the unseen government that endorses the system of exploitation. With Hilda Koronel.

Excerpt from Dave Kehr of the Chicago Reader located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

These films are part of Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Project created in 2007 to help foster cooperation among filmmakers world-wide and to identify, preserve and restore endangered films representing diverse cultural heritage. BFI's package has two Blu-ray discs containing a pair of Lino Brocka's films; Manila in the Claws of Light aka "Maynila: Sa mga kuko ng liwanag" (1975) + Insiang (1976).


The restoration of Maynila: Sa mga kuko ng liwanagwa's made possible through the use of the original camera and sound negatives deposited by Pierre Rissient, on behalf of Cinema Artists Philippines, at the BFI National Archive since the early 1990s. The state of conservation of the negatives was critical. The negative was wet-scanned at 4K resolution. The digital restoration process required considerable effort due to the great number of issues affecting the negative: tears, scratches, warping, visible marks and halos. Color decay was also a significant problem. The film's cinematographer, Mike de Leon, attentively guided the grading phase and validated a positive print for reference.


The restoration of Insiang was made from the original camera and sound negatives deposited at the LTC laboratories by producer Ruby Tiong Tan. The negative was wet-scanned at 4K resolution and underwent extensive digital restoration. Portions of the film where the internegative was cut into negative were extremely damaged and two shots had to be replaced using a 35mm positive print preserved at the BFI National Archive. The color grading was supervised by Pierre Rissient. The original optical sound negative presented critical recording issues and required considerable effort to minimize the severe metallic hiss and distortion.


The image quality - both 1080P is surprisingly strong. The restorations look marvelous in HD. Manila in the Claws of Light may have had some density issues looking at the contrast. It's thick and flatter than Insiang and may have some digitization with more work required for the 4K restoration. Colors are rich and vibrant - the high resolution supports a film-like image with occasional depth. Both films are pristinely clean showcasing some hi-def detail in the infrequent close-ups. Insiang is a brighter and superior image, crisper and containing a bit of gloss. Texture is finely supported and this Blu-ray produces extremely pleasing visuals for both Brocka films. The screen captures below should give you a reasonable idea of the presentation video.




Manila in the Claws of Light




















Audio :

Both films have linear PCM mono tracks in the original Tagalog language at 24-bit. The audio restoration seems adept as well with only a couple of imperfect sequences. The music in Manila in the Claws of Light is credited to Max Jocson and in Insiang composed by Minda D. Azarcon. The music is used very effectively and the uncompressed sound certainly adds to the viewing experience. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.


Extras :

BFI add plenty of supplements. Manila... A Filipino Film is a 24-minute making-of documentary from 1975, by Mike de Leon, featuring interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. There is also a Manila stills and collections gallery on the first Blu-ray. Visions Cinema: Film in the Philippines by Ron Orders is a 40-mnute, 1983, piece with Tony Rayns interviewing Lino Brocka and other prominent Filipino directors. Signed: Lino Brocka was made in 1987 by Christian Blackwood. It runs 84-minutes and is an award-winning, feature-length documentary exploring the director's life and work with Brocka, Lorna Tolentino, Christopher De Leon, Dina Bonnevie, Jay Ilagan, Sharon Cuneta and others. There is also another, excellent, audio-only Guardian Lecture with Lino Brocka in conversation with Tony Rayns from 1982. The package has an illustrated booklet featuring a new essay by Cathy Landicho Clark, an archive interview with Lino Brocka and full film credits. Being dual-format it also includes two DVDs (one for each film with extras.)




BFI's Two Films by Lino Brocka is a fantastic package.  The Blu-rays provide a glimpse into a world cinema master story-teller that we have had limited exposure to - certainly in such improved, restored, presentations. This is a true treat and cinephiles should be eternally grateful for Scorsese's World Cinema Project and BFI.  I felt so privileged seeing these, highly impacting, films of a less-exposed culture. This is easy to put in the 'must-own' and 'don't hesitate' category for digital librarians who appreciate world cinema. Immense value here. Our highest recommendation! 

Gary Tooze

February 14th, 2017


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze






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