‘Mina-Anud’ review — Frenetic comedy keeps the tragedy

EDITOR’S NOTE: This review first appeared on Unreel on September 5, 2019. It’s being republished as part of the upkeep of our writing archive.

Recent local movies that tackle drug enforcement either lean towards blatant, government championing, propaganda or pitch-black deplorable dramas. Kerwin Go’s cautionary tale, Mina-Anud manages to translate a tragic true story into a frenetic comedy caper without losing the tragedy dictated by its political undertones.

When tons of cocaine shipments wash up on the shores of Eastern Samar, a group of hapless fishermen and surfers inadvertently wind up in the drug trade and eventually get pursued by a morally questionable PDEA officer. 

This is the plot of Mina-Anud, but there are whole stretches of runtime where we mostly hang out with these well-meaning but ultimately slow-witted characters as they pine for better fortunes and slowly indulge in their newfound wealth. The urgency is kept in the background, at least until the latter part of the second act, when the PDEA finally rears its head into the story, and the pacing becomes almost as languid as the personalities of these surfers. However, this doesn’t mean that the film lacks charm or style, as Kerwin Go unquestionably suffuses certain sequences with manic energy and bursts of creative visual touches.

Dennis Trillo’s Ding is the closest we have to an emotional tether to the story. His desperate attempt to turn an illicit business into a legal, sustainable income for his family is the only sympathetic narrative thread in the movie. Jerald Napoles’ Carlo has an interesting introduction, but his character never really evolves past petty ambitions. Their misadventures are mostly the result of being fed new information and new propositions from the very limited circle of people to whom they are exposed. Strip those influences away, and they hardly make any crucial choices of their own volition.

However, that seems to be by design. At the core of the screenplay, written by Stephen Lopez (who, interestingly, also serves as the film’s live sound recordist), the story is only vaguely invested in these characters getting away. 

The film is more interested in depicting the inevitability that befalls anyone who is remotely involved in the drug industry. The characters are eventually diluted to chess pieces, awaiting their fate. This sudden detachment can get jarring; the movie loses sentiment once it remembers its moral stance. This is even more evident in the final scene when the film attempts to make a sudden u-turn and end on a lighter tone after the deluge of heavy sequences before it.

It’s difficult to juggle all the tones that Mina-Anud aims for. The attempt to do so is laudable, but because it tries to cater to several emotional beats, not all of them end up all that satisfying. This isn’t to say that there isn’t merit in what it was trying to do. The shifts in tone are sometimes effective, but they come at the expense of crafting a wholly cohesive experience.


Mina-Anud

2019 | Comedy, Thriller | dir. Kerwin Go

When 3 tons of cocaine land on the shores of a peaceful seaside community, two surfers Ding and Carlo must decide whether the lure of riches is worth risking family and freedom. With special participation of Matteo Guidicelli as Paul. Mina-Anud is inspired by true events.

Where to watch Mina-Anud