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Starring
Shem
Ash Newman
as Daniel

Hadassah Hungar Diamant
as Nana

Cavite
Ian Gamazon
as Adam

Dominique Gonzalez
as Dana

Written and Directed
by Caroline Roboh

Running Time: 1:33

Not Rated

D
Written and Directed
by Neill Dela Llana & Ian Gamazon

Running Time: 1:20

Not Rated

B+


THE OPENING

Shem and Cavite are similarly themed films that are complete opposites in entertainment. One was impressive, one was not.

THE STORY

Shem and Cavite are both about two young men put into a situation where they learn about who they are and where they come from. In Shem, Daniel is asked by his grandmother to find the grave of his great-grandfather, who disappeared during World War II. His travels take him all over Europe and during the journey he comes to find the trip was more about himself, than the search. In Cavite, Adam must go to the Philippines for the funeral of his father. But immediately upon arriving, an unknown voice on the other end of a cell phone tells him his mother and sister have been kidnapped, and if Adam doesn't do exactly what he is told, they will die.

THE REVIEW

Both films were shot on digital video and are extremely low budget productions. Both films have the same basic ideal behind them, namely, putting two young men into a situation they're not familiar with, and forcing them to learn about who they are and where they come from. From there, however, the films take different paths.

Shem was, for lack of a better word, a mess. Beyond the good looks and considerable charm of Ash Newman, who plays Daniel, the movie had nothing going for it. The film is supposed to be about Daniel learning about his roots and figuring out his life, but instead it was about him having sex with as many people as possible in as many different countries as possible. It goes from one ludicrous set up to another without any rhyme or reason. Before leaving on the first leg of his trip, he meets a woman who pays for his train and sleeps with him. From there he falls asleep in the woods and meets a girl who immediately offers her place for him to stay. Everywhere he goes, Daniel manages to find someone who is willing to help him, although I could never figure out why. Maybe if the movie had cut down on the locations and focused in more on the journey, we could have spent more time with him getting to know people. At no point did I ever feel Daniel was growing up. And unfortunately, I think that was the whole reason the film was made; to show his spiritual awakening. But to me, Daniel never woke up. The only reason he was on the trip was to please his grandmother, and even at the end of the movie, that was still the only reason he went on it. I didn't mind the look of the movie, I can understand on a low budget the actors aren't going to be top-notch, and as I said, Ash was a very charismatic actor. But you need to have a very strong and compelling story in order to make the movie fly, and Shem didn't have that.

On the other end of the spectrum was Cavite, a film shot solely by two people, for around $7,000. In this case, you had a strong story, albeit one that preached and forced ideas a little too much. Adam goes to the Philippines and immediately ends up in a bad situation. He has to listen to someone he doesn't know, tell him where to go and what to do. I was worried that the story might not hold up, but to my surprise, it got better as it went along. Slowly but surely pieces of the puzzle were put together so that everything Adam had to do was explained. That's not to say the movie was perfect. I felt that Adam wasn't enough of a fish out of water. He knew the language enough to get by almost too easily. He never had any problems following directions and never encountered any problems. The only time there were issues was when Adam decided to stop listening and get angry. Now, I don't know what I'd do in that situation but I'd like to think if it meant saving the live of a family member, I'd listen to whatever someone said. Up until the last part of the film where Adam is forced to make a serious, and potentially devastating, decision that could affect many more people than he thought. The fact that the movie boiled down to that single decision made the entire movie come together. Once again, the look and feel of the movie was low budget, and the actors (which pretty much amounted to one person) wasn't the best, but the story was so well written it made you forget everything else.

THE BOTTOM LINE

So overall, while both movies had the same underlying theme, they weren't even close as far as entertainment value goes. Shem was a big mess while Cavite was a success.

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reviewed 05/24/06

© 2006 Wolfpack Productions

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