Took this snapshot of the URDUJA poster at the hallway of SM Cinemas, SM Mall of Asia
This is the first full-length animated film made by Filipinos. Casts are Regine Velasquez as the voice of Urduja, Cesar Montano as the voice of Lim Hang, Eddie Garcia as the voice of Lakanpati, Johnny Delgado as the voice of Wang, Allan K. as Tarsir, Michael V. as Kukut, Jay Manalo as Simakwel, Jeffrey Quizon as Daisuke and Ruby Rodriguez as Mayumi. Jimmy Santos also voiced the carabao character (which incidentally fits the carabao due to his famous 'carabao english'). Produced by APT Entertainment Inc. (Tony Tuviera).
Set in the 13th century, this epic film unfolds the story of the legendary warrior princess of Pangasinan named Urduja. As the only daughter of the Tawilisi tribe leader, Urduja was raised by her father, Lakanpati, in the world of warriors and men to protect the tribe from their enemies- the Batyaw tribe. When Lakanpati suddenly realizes that he is not getting any younger, he decides to betroth his daughter to his favored warrior Simakwel- the arrogant leader of Tawalisi warriors.
Meanwhile, fate washes Limhang (a Chinese pirate) ashore at Tawilisi as he flees away from his enemy Wang. Urduja immediately falls in love with the stranger Limhang. This worries Lakanpati and drives Simakwel into madness. The thought of losing both Urduja and the crown leads to Simakwel's treacherous plans to drive him away from his dreams. Despite this, Limhang still wins over the trust of the Tawilisi tribe through his genuine kindness.
Wang soon finds Limhang. He surrenders voluntarily to Wang through the help of Simakwel to assure that Wang will leave Tawilisi out of his claims. Eventually, Wang reveals his deceit and declares war to rule over Tawilisi. Limhang escapes from his captors and finds help from Batyaw tribe. The battle between Wang and the two tribes ensues. In the end, the alliance of Tawilisis and Batyaws wins them over Wang. Urduja and Limhang's love story continues.
The animation seems like a cross between a Hanna-Barbera cartoon and a Don Bluth film shaded with Japanese anime (teary-eyes scene) sprinkled with CGI effects (sea waves and the dangling curtain beads). Some animation sequences e.g. birds soaring in the sky, has less frames per sec. of animation that seems like photo flickerings while some scenes e.g. Limhang and Urduja underwater scene beautifully captures the style of a Walt Disney flick.
You also can't help to think of the Disney flick 'Pocahontas' during the singing scenes of Lim Hang (Cesar Monatano) and Urduja (Regine Velasquez), think of Pocahontas and Captain John Smith (voiced by Mel Gibson). The subtle details on some scenes still lacks enthusiasm specially on the panning movement of the camera (zooming in) that would simulate a 3D effect which was done and applied by Walt Disney himself in earlier films such as Pinocchio (1940). The crying scene of Urduja on her father's deathbed placed too much tears flowing from Urduja's eyes almost seems ridiculously inadequate. The falling of Wang over the bamboo spikes lacks a powerful emotional impact perhaps due to its long shot of the scene and the lack of a suitable perspective that would give the final death scene of the villain some 'kick' and satisfaction for the viewers.
As usual, as in other animated flicks abroad, the putting in of wacky sidekicks seems to be SOP. Tarsir (Allan K.) and Kukut (Michael V.) blends well with their own distinctive humor making their tandem fit for a Saturday cartoon on TV. Some of the look of the animated characters replicates the image of its real life counterpart, Wang looks like Johnny Delgado, Tarsir has the same big wide nose of Allan K. while the rest suits their own personality into the characters. The character Urduja blends well with Regine Velasquez's gentle but firm voice. The legendary Urduja in the film inspires women to stand up for their rights making the character the first inspirational and feisty female heroine in Philippine animation to come. Special mention to the men and women behind the song 'Babae Ako' (lyrics by Joey de Leon, music by Ogie Alcasid) one of the best theme song I've heard.
Despite its flaws, the animation is still a marvel to behold that it was made entirely by Pinoys. Kudos to Tony Tuviera for a making a bold move to make an animated film into fruition, perhaps he'll be the Walt Disney of the Philippines in many years to come.
My Rating : 4.5/5 BISCUITS !
Here's again Regine Velasquez singing the theme song of Urduja, the video was recorded and uploaded to YouTube by yours truly