by Heinrich Domingo
In our juvenile days, we did things that are intended to be taken with us in our graves. They are unpleasant. They are never to be remembered. Yet, these nightmares will continue to wake us up in the middle of the night and remind us of our naivety. For director Jim Libiran, his creation Ninja Party is one nightmare that will haunt him eternally. It is a flop that will need a lot of redeeming to do.
Set in a conservative catholic community, a group of high schoolers explores their sexuality as they confront the difficult transition of adolescence to young adulthood. They experimented on an orgy in the hope of experiencing the world. The movie aims to be a commentary on the educational system of the many exclusive catholic schools. It discusses how the suppressed teenage girls are driven by curiosity and libido eventually leading them to the verge of irreversible destruction.
One pivotal failure of the film is its selection of casts. Actresses do not match the age and physique of the key characters. Tattooed high school girls with well-developed bodies cannot simply be bought by an audience who seeks realism. The production could have been more selective on the casting procedure. Through this, characters could have become reminiscent of the age we have all been.
Second, Ninja Party offers nothing but sex. It is true that the subject matter of the film is sexual expression and self-discovery but the director need not to smack it on our faces. Libiran must remember that in subtlety, there is art. The Philippine Independent Cinema has been filled with cine pieces that blur the line of indie film and porno material. It is the task of Libiran and his fellow directors to innovate their art.
Lastly, the sequence of events is dull and predictable. Despite adding a plot twist in the end, the movie will still be remembered for entertaining the crowd through merely showcasing women’s boobs and asses. From script to cinematography, the output looked amateurish and can be mistaken as a school project. It is shameful to line it up with its festival competitors Bambanti and Balut Country.
Being the recipient of the Sinag Maynila audience choice award, the films says so much of the Filipino audience. Our generation has not yet superseded the novelty of sexual intercourse. Sex for many is still about objectification of women and trivialization of reproductive organs. Would we reach the time when our media need not include sex and violence just to sell? Can we achieve the moment when movies are watched because of their relevance and stances rather than the instant gratification they give?
In the end, Ninja Party fails to provide a rich discussion on sexual exploration. It leaves its critique on private catholic education half-done. This then leads movie viewers and critics like us to ask why an unpolished and unappetizing film was served to the audience.