Before watching the movie, my companion told me that a reviewer from ClicktheCity called the movie “pointless.” After watching it, I wouldn't say that the movie was pointless. It had a point. It just took too much time in getting to it.
Ninja Party, directed by Jim Liberan, tells the tale of four friends – apparently a tightly-knit barkada – Alexa, Nicky, Sasha and Carla, played respectively by Annicka Dolonius, Bea Galvez, Julz Savard and Elora Espano. They come from good families. They are the sort of rich conyo kids you see in exclusive schools, except that – and I don't know if this was done on purpose or the crew was limited financially – the school does not seem like the school rich parents send their spoiled rich brats to. Neither is their homes the type of homes rich families live in. Their abodes seemed cramped, chock-full of gaudy furniture, and its workmanship seemed shoddy. So from the start I was already distracted and wondering if they were indeed rich kids or kids just trying to act like rich kids do.
For some reason, they decide to hold an orgy masquerading as an underground soiree. The event is by invitation only and the students have to pay a P1000 entrance fee. The fact that students are willing to dish out P1000 just goes to show that it's a school that caters to the wealthy. The soiree itself is clandestine because the school principal, a strict Catholic nun who chastises Alexa from putting on lipstick, cancelled the scheduled soiree after seeing the four friends participate in a play that is brim-full of sexual undertones. Why they chose to show such a sexual play at a strict Catholic all-girls school is lost on me. I mean, this is a school that bans the students from putting on lipstick! Didn't the assigned school teacher see this coming? And Alexa, for all her smarts and intelligence, didn't predict the reaction of the school officials?
And when we finally come to the titular orgy scene, it comes about as a laughable assortment of cliches – moans, fingernails digging into flesh, grinding bodies – which leaves nothing to the imagination. I guess the director had to add those scenes as a marketing technque. After all, people did queue up for Fifty Shades because of the sex. They start off with the boys blindfolded and stripped down to their underwear. The girls themselves are wearing balaclavas. Why they chose to hide their identities is also beyond me. I mean, the guys obviously knew the girls so couldn't they determine their identities from their voices and figures. My companion continued to comment that they guys didn't seem like the guys whom rich girls would hang out with. Seriously, couldn't they get conyo guys or Arraneo boys as well? Or school jocks? Or mestizo types? The boys in this film come out as bumbling neophyte push-overs.
The funny thing about the movie though is that it gets to the aforementioned sex scene almost two-thirds of the way in. The build-up consists mostly of a mish-mash of scenes aimed to elaborate on the characters of the four friends, yet despite the time spent on the characters, their motivations for holding an orgy are unclear. Were they sexually curious? The opening scene showed a tentative Alexa walking into a ninja party with Nicky already inside – so did they enjoy that party in such a way that they chose to hold their own version? I can understand why they decided to hold an underground soiree – I know kids can be rebellious – but why they decided to have an orgy is beyond me.
I would like to believe that the director was purposely jabbing at the Catholic school system which tends to meddle in the lives of its students in the same way that the Catholic Church meddles in society, but I think that's a stretch. I don't think you need school permission to hold soirees. The kids could've just forged ahead and held a soiree on their own. Then when the school found out that the party turned out to be an orgy, did the principal have to meddle and launch an investigation of their own? The party was not in school premises nor did it have the blessing of the school. In my high school days I got into all sorts of weird parties – school “rumbles,” pot sessions, and yes students making out with each other – but never did our school intervene. I know of many wild high school parties and if trouble arises, the parents don't go to the school to air their grievances – THEY GO TO THE PARENTS OF WHOEVER ARRANGED THE EVENT!
I guess the director wanted to highlight the inconsistencies of the society we live in. One clear message is that kids will be kids despite their education, their religion, their upbringing, and their parents. All four lived relatively normal lives. Parents weren't unreasonably strict and they seemed quite loving to their daughters. School system was typical, no corporeal punishment of any sorts. So the movie says that teenagers will naturally do acts that are considered taboo to society. In fact, at the end of the movie, more and more teens will participate in the “ninja party.”
So why did I say that the movie isn't “pointless” as one reviewer claimed? If ever there was a point, it's the hypocrisy of the society we live in. Parents chide their kids for being sexually active, yet they keep vibrators in their rooms. Adults want their teens to be chaste and pure yet they look at the girls with leering eyes. A seemingly bright student is willing to cheat on her friends. A young Catholic nun, while dressed in a her Catholic habit, giggles at the thought of the students holding a soiree.
The only thing bugging me is that I feel like I'm an apologist for the film and its screenwriter. Maybe the director just tossed in these scenes hoping to get lucky that some intellectual wannabe could derive some hidden meaning in it?
I know it's an “independent” film and funding can be limited. The locale and the clothingwere unrealistic – conyo kids don't live and dress like that. The acting was nothing special. The music would appear at odd instances and did nothing in terms of mood and atmosphere. The editing was pretty standard. If I were rating this in a 5-star scale, I'd give it a 3. I would have given it a 2 but I tip my hat to any artist who is able to get their work out to the general public. The film could've probably worked more as a comedy of students trying hard to be conyo kids. I also didn't like how the film just glossed over the aftermath. It could've elaborated more on the aftermath of the orgy, driving the situation to ridiculous extremes to further highlight our societal hypocrisies. The synopsis of the film mentioned “slut-shaming” but I couldn't detect it and if ever there was such shaming done, it seemed like a quick afterthought.
It's relieving to note that “Ninja Party” didn't snag any of the major Sinag Maynila awards. I didn't think it deserved any award. “Imbisibol” grabbed Best Picture and and six other awards, including Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay. Sadly though, “Ninja Party” grabbed the People's Choice award, which is probably telling of the state of Philippine cinema.
Some other random thoughts:
- For a school that prohibits lipstick, it seems pretty lax when it comes to tattoos.
- Do kids do orgies nowadays? In my time, when we were having a party and a couple would get raunchy, they'd sneak off to a room for some privacy.
- After the “ninja party” incident was discovered by school officials, one parent lamented about where his P300,000 tuition fee was going. He should have been asking that question when he saw the pitiful school facilities.
- Seriously, after downing so much liquor, none of them had a hangover?
- I let out a chuckle when the girls started mouthing “Our Father” stark naked after an orgy
You can still watch Ninja Party and other Sinag Maynila films in SM Cinemas. Sinag Maynila ends in March 24.