Intersection: A “Tuhog” Review

Now wait, don’t get too excited just yet. I know that the film’s title sounds like it’s porn (“Tuhog” means “impale”) but sorry to disappoint your raging hormones my kinky friends, there’s more to this film than that. This movie has a real story that’s got real substance, unlike those DVDs that you shamefully purchase with guilty pleasure.
Tuhog tells us three different stories of three people from varying walks of life – Tonio (Leo Martinez), an old man who impulsively decides to pursue his dream of becoming a baker after he retires; Fiesta (Eugene Domingo), a city bus lady barker who projects a tough exterior but is really longing for parental and romantic love; and Caloy (Enchong Dee) who vowed to preserve his virginity for his girlfriend but is becoming tempted by another girl as their relationship starts to break apart. These three lives are brought together in a tragic bus accident, and the circumstances (Clue: it is reminiscent of an episode of Grey’s Anatomy) lead to having to choose not who among them lives, but who among them must sacrifice and die.

Tuhog Trailer

The idea of interconnecting different stories in one plot is no longer new to us. Films by Alejandro González Iñárritu like “Babel”, “21 Grams”, and “Amores Perros” are some foreign examples (although the intersection of stories in these films is more complex), while locally we have Yam Laranas’ “The Road” as one of the closest examples. “Tuhog” pretty much follows the same pattern, with the film introducing us to each lead character then showing us how their lives are really connected from the start. The film demonstrated this simply yet effectively, with the impalement or “tuhog” serving as a metaphor for the linked lives of these dissimilar characters.
The look on your face when you see your girlfriend’s sister and realize she’s hotter.
Why can’t all bus drivers look like Jake Cuenca?
Now who would believe that?
Even though it is easy to tell that each story is directed with the same style, the film was successful in making each narrative unique. Tonio’s story revolves around family relations and the acceptance of old-age. Fiesta’s focuses on finding love and the struggle to be at peace with oneself. Caloy’s is a lighter story about infatuation and adolescence. With each story filling a certain niche, it became relatable to a wider audience, which was further reinforced by the fact that this movie is a dramedy. It makes you laugh at reality, not at senseless jokes and corny slapstick. The film was funny because it was true.
Nope. Still not porn.
The movie carefully invests in each narrative, making sure that you know the characters well – their motivations, their struggles, the situation that they are in. It makes you feel attached to each character, so that when the time comes when you have to choose who among them lives or dies, you also get a share of the burden and weight of having to make a decision. It engages the audience by making them think and decide among themselves, by making them choose.
I don’t know what it is about Eugene Domingo, but she always gives me the impression that every movie that she stars in would always be worth watching. So far she has been consistent with that. Her acting always felt real, unlike the usual mainstream actors we know. I wasn’t surprised that Leo Martinez and Enchong Dee also delivered outstanding performances, but they did exceed what I was expecting from them. They levelled with the sincerity of Eugene’s genuine acting making all three of them owning the whole movie, without one upstaging the other two.
Leo Martinez
Eugene Domingo
Enchong Dee
What struck me the most though after watching the film, is the message that it gets across. It tells us about the certainty of death, but also empahasizes at the same time that it is in this certainty where we find the beauty in living. If it was your last day on Earth and you look back to how you lived your life, would you be able to say that you are happy and satisfied with how you lived?

Tuhog Cast

Eugene Domingo as Fiesta
Leo Martinez as Tonio
Enchong Dee as Caloy
Empress Schuck as Angel
Jake Cuenca as Nato
Manuel Chua
Nikki Valdez
Kitkat
Beauty Gonzalez
Rodjun Cruz
Noel Trinidad
Joe Vargas
Maliksi Morales
Ariel Ureta
Carla Martinez
Eda Nolan
Bodjie Pascua
Menggie Cobarrubias
Jon Achaval
Nor Domingo
Hyubs Azarcon
Nico Antonio
Allyzon Lualhati
Nicco Manalo
Dimples Romana

Directed by: Veronica Velasco

Credits to all the images and videos used in this post go to Tuhog and/or to their respective owners. I do not own these materials. No copyright infringement intended.

  1. Your review gave me the chills, especially the part where you wrote "It tells us about the certainty of death, but also empahasizes at the same time that it is in this certainty where we find the beauty in living." I couldn't agree more. Anyway, I've seen the trailer, and it definitely had a striking impression on me. Other than the fact that I only watch Filipino RomCom's, this film is something I could see myself watching too.

  2. Your review gave me the chills, especially the part where you wrote "It tells us about the certainty of death, but also empahasizes at the same time that it is in this certainty where we find the beauty in living." I couldn't agree more. Anyway, I've seen the trailer, and it definitely had a striking impression on me. Other than the fact that I only watch Filipino RomCom's, this film is something I could see myself watching too.

  3. I also have that impression in Eugene Domingo's movies. I just heard a bad review about the film, but because of your review I'm considering watching it.:) Thanks

  4. When I heard this movie akala ko porn din eh. Lol. I really don't know who among them should live. They all deserve to live. Maybe I should watch this movie to see what happen 🙂

  5. Nowadays, mainstream filmmakers often create stories to earn big bucks. Undeniably, these stories were generated out of wants of the viewers. Hence, these films are not of original and authentic piece of art. I would rather watch independent films like the one’s being shown in Cinemalaya, an indie film festival for filmmakers with utmost passion for the art.

    It is sad but true; “Tuhog” was one of the mainstream movies I am talking about. With due respect to the actors and actresses, the concept of incorporating three stories in one film is not new to me. It was used over and over in the film industry. In fact, GMA film’s “The Road” used three stories as a springboard to the main story. Although they tried to make it a little bit different from the others by inserting twists in the film; for example, the baby of Fiesta, which in the end she had to choose who would live between herself and the baby. Pretty much “Tuhog” follows the same pattern, acquainting us to the main characters by presenting their everyday lives, what is their personality, how they deal with the world and how will they be interconnected with other stories.

    Even though it was patterned to other films both international and local, I liked spontaneity of the interrelation of the lead characters. Tonio being a retired office worker, he has nothing to do in life other than spending time with his friends’ playing card games. Caloy, a college student living in a dormitory with his schoolmates have nothing to think of than his girlfriend Angel who transferred to the province. When his girlfriend came to town for a visit, Caloy immediately transported to see his girlfriend. Fiesta, for me the most interesting story, has nothing to care of than his drunkard father. He works hard all day in a bus to finance his father’s needs. Her mother left them in a mall when she was a kid. They waited for her mother to comeback until the closing of the mall but her mother didn’t returned. It caused her to have a trauma in closing stores. For the first time, he had a thing with a guy, Nato. They had sexual intercourse. And of course Fiesta bore a child but Nato didn’t knew he impregnate Fiesta. The common thing among the three stories was the fact that they all needed to ride a bus. This is where the spontaneity of the story kicks in. The presence of the lead characters in the accident was unforced, thus making it less stiff.

    Overall, the movie was so-so. I was not impressed but I was not disappointed as well. There’s this feeling that wanting more from it. The ending was too conventional that I felt the audience wanted that kind of a conclusion. For me, I wanted an ending that leaves more questions unanswered to which the audience will plot the conclusion themselves (I am really biased towards indie films).

  6. Actually in the first part of the film, we already get to see all three characters together (their present predicament). We are then taken to what happened to them individually that led to the "Tuhog" situation that they are in 🙂

  7. Wow Kim, your comment could already be a great review in itself! High-five for being indie-film fans! And yes, I agree that we could have had a better ending. Something that could have left the audience thinking and making their own interpretations. Good observations you got there! 🙂

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