Ka Oryang's premise is admirable. The indie movie, an entry to the 7th Cinema One Originals film festival, tells the story of a group of women illegally imprisoned during Martial Law.
Directed by Sari Dalena, it stars Alessandra de Rossi as a doctor named Oryang, Joem Bascon as Oryang's revolutionary boyfriend Ka Noli, and Emilio Garcia as the face of the military.
One night, a group of soldiers storms a village that harbors communist sympathizers, and kidnaps all the women there.
Oryang, taking a break from healing revolutionaries in the mountains, is caught as well, and sent to an undisclosed prison.
In prison, Oryang meets some of the women she had met in the mountains, women who like her have partners in the revolution.
Oryang's partner is Ka Noli, a commander with whom she shared a close affection. Oryang is carrying Ka Noli's baby.
What the film aims to show is the suffering of these women while they are imprisoned, and why they choose to bear their suffering just to protect their men, who are also imprisoned.
Ka Oryang does not shy away from showing the grueling torture the women had to go through.
Oryang, for instance, was tortured and raped by Emilio Garcia's character, and at one point, was forced to drink unlimited water through a hose.
Another character was stripped naked, made to lie on a block of ice, while her arms and legs are tied to the ceiling.
One other pregnant woman was punched to her stomach, repeatedly.
Because the film shows the torture in detail, the viewers get to share in their suffering. This is the film's strength.
The film's glaring weakness is the choice of lead actors. Joem Bascon and Alessandra de Rossi just do not have the chemistry to make the viewers believe that they are in love with each other.
There was no passion in their meetings. This is most visible in the scene where they were supposed to have made love.
After a naked Joem invites Alessandra to the water in the middle of a swim, the two do not kiss passionately. Instead, they swim happily like good friends, before the scene cuts to black.
This lack of chemistry weakened the later scenes when the two characters needed to show love that transcends even the walls of prison. The passion is just not there, so the scenes are not that believable.
That said, the acting of the two in scenes where they are separate from each other, are great. The supporting cast are also great, sometimes even outshining the lead stars.