Jake Macapagal is the heart and soul of Sean Ellis’s blistering and propulsive crime thriller Metro Manila. In a riveting performance, Macapagal stars as Oscar Ramirez, devoted husband and father, a man looking to better his life and the life of his family at all costs. Working as a poor farmer isn’t making ends meet, so Oscar and his family pack up whatever belongings they can before heading off into the dangerous, exotic, and totally unpredictable mega-city that is Manila. Upon arrival, the harsh realities facing Oscar and his wife and children are apparent from the outset, and it’s the way that Macapagal brings the perfect amount of confidence and vulnerability to the role that makes Oscar as compelling as he is. This is a first-rate piece of acting, most of it deeply internalized, with burrowed emotion popping out in explosive moments of visceral intensity, especially during the positively engrossing final act, which finds Oscar making one desperate decision after another in order to set up his family for life. The chemistry he demonstrates with his on-screen wife, Althea Vega, is palpable and complex; he knows that both he AND she need to “do what they have to do” in order to help their familial unit, so it’s even more heartrending when Macapagal registers the realization of what his wife has been up too during her work hours (I’ll leave this plot development for the audience to discover). This is one of those out of the blue performances that showcased an actor that I was not familiar with, and the way that Macapagal brought this character to life is something I’ll never forget. I only hope that Hollywood casting agents take note of his fierce drive and dedication, as it’s obvious that while watching Macapagal in action during the increasingly hardcore events of Metro Manila, he’s a talent to pay attention too and to hope to see more of in the future. Metro Manila is available to stream via Amazon HD, and a Region 2 Blu-ray and DVD have been made available for the international market and those of us with Region Free Blu-ray players.


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