Movie review: 'Mina-Anud' is a timely comedy about drug trade

Fred Hawson

Posted at Aug 22 2019 05:10 PM

Mina-Anud is an island in the province of Eastern Samar. One morning, fishermen saw hundreds of uniform packages with a scorpion emblem washed up on their shores. The packs contained a white powder which the islanders had never seen before. 

Meanwhile in Borongan, Samar, a couple of down-on-their-luck surfing instructors, Ding and Carlo, got their hands on one of these packs. They discovered that the powder was in fact cocaine and saw that this may be the way out of their financial misfortunes.

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Cautionary tales about how indigent people react with the sudden arrival of big wealth had been done before. Among local films, the most notable one with this theme was "Misterio sa Tuwa" (Abbo Q. dela Cruz, 1984), about villagers in a remote village gaining possession of suitcase of cold hard cash thanks to a plane wreck. 

In "Mina-Anud," we also see how money corrupted the naive islanders. Their moral compass just went out of order in the face of all the material things they could buy with the money. The glittery end justified the means, no matter how foul these means were -- in this case, illegal drugs. 

Dennis Trillo was supposed to be the more sensible friend Ding, but his deteriorating relationship with his wife and his incapacity to provide well for his family pushed him down a dark road of desperate actions. 

Jerald Napoles was back in familiar ground as a reckless foolish sex maniac in the character of Carlo, but this time he had a demented grandmother to keep him grounded. It would have been interesting to see if the casting of these two lead roles could be reversed so each actor could play against their usual type. 

Talking about playing against type, Matteo Guidicelli did just that. He played Paul, a homeboy who made it into show business. He may look fit and clean-cut, but he also hosted wild parties in his condo. 

Lou Veloso played Cap Mario, the barangay chairman of Mina-Anud. He may not have had any idea what the tide brought in at first, but he learned quickly what those packets meant. Alvin Anson played PDEA agent Enriquez who led the recovery mission in Mina-Anud. This law enforcer also had a twisted streak in him. 

Once you get the drift of the story, you sort of already knew how it was going to go. At first, it was going to be all systems go, towards easy money. However, later on, the law was really catching up with them. 

Similar to the style of several recent films, director Kerwin Go decided to start his movie with a climactic event set in a diner, and then flashed back to build up to that climax. Therefore, it was not really a surprise anymore what was going to happen. That might mean that this climax was not really the point of the whole film.

Amidst the vein of black comedy which ran throughout this film, there was also a potent warning against going into the illegal drug business, no matter how lucrative it may seem. 

This film also made strong commentary against the unfortunate prevalence of drugs in the tourist industry, in show business, and in a corrupted government. The final sequence was a sobering reflection of what we all fear is happening for real.

I am not really sure if Mina-Anud is a real place name, or if it is a play on the words "may inanod" (Tagalog for "something got washed ashore"), referring to the packages of cocaine which triggered the whole chain of events that led to ruined lives. 

The fact that incidents of cargo-loads of drugs are being dumped in the ocean were in the news recently makes this film very relevant and timely. 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."