Original Title: Manos Sucias
Country: Colombia, United States
Director: Josef Kubota Wladyka
Genre: Drama, Thriller
26.02.2020: This review was first published on 17.06.2018 and is being updated for a more complete review, together with the publishing of the YouTube Version.
Hello! Welcome to Ulven Reviews!
Directed by Josef Kubota Wladyka and produced by Spike Lee, Dirty Hands, A.K.A. Manos Sucias, follows two young men making a dangerous journey to transport a torpedo full of drugs through the coast of Colombia.
World Cup Historic
The history of the Colombian national team began in 1938 Central American and Caribbean Games but only played their first FIFA World Cup in 1962, with three losses and one draw, a 4-4 against the Soviet Union.
Los Cafeteros have an On-again, off-again relationship with the World Cup. Their best phase was in the 90s when they participated in every competition. However, 2014 was when they had the best run, reaching the Quarter-finals.
In Russia 2018, they classified as first of the group but weren’t able to go further than Round of 16, losing to England after a penalty shoot-out. As I already mentioned in The Damned United review, it was the most violent match of the tournament.
Colombia had a hard time in its history because of drug trafficking. In the 70s, Pablo Escobar began his reign as the Medellin Cartel leader, an organization founded to sell cocaine, that became a narcoterrorist threat to Colombia.
Through the 80s and 90s, the Medellin Cartel murdered, kidnapped, and detonated bombs in Colombia, holding the whole country hostages with intimidation and terror. This story is told amazingly in the first two seasons of the Netflix series Narcos, one of my favorites.
The Cali Cartel operated for the same time as the Medellin Cartel but in a smooth manner. They took over the cocaine trafficking of the country after the death of Escobar, but by the end of the decade, their leaders ended up dead or in jail.
After the fall of Medellin and Cali Cartels, Colombia stopped being the reference of drug organizations, a position that belongs to the Mexican now. Drug dealing continued in Colombia, just not as powerful as during the 80s and 90s.
Manos Sucias or Dirty Hands presents a story about this current drug trade going on in the country and how it affects the life the people, especially the less privileged ones.
Delio (played by Cristian James Abvincula) is a naive 19-year-old, getting a job with the narcos, in part to provide to his young son. Jacobo (Jarlin Javier Martinez), had a similar life, but his girlfriend left him after their son was killed.
The job these two men had is, sail through the coast of Colombia until reaching Panama, where they have to deliver a torpedo full of cocaine. Miguel (Hadder Blandon), a man from the Cartel, accompanies them to make sure they don’t cheat the bosses.
Dirty Hands is a straightforward movie with a well-defined structure. In its short duration, it has a lot of social commentary, about the poor and marginalized population, how the drug trade can capture them and even turn one against the other.
The two main characters are black, and the movie is full of racial tension, more than once they mention that there are no black people in Bogota, it’s like saying there is no place for black people in that society. If you think there’s no place for you in society, it’s normal that you go for a marginalized activity like dealing drugs.
Another instance of racial tension is when Jacobo, Delio, and Miguel are talking about footballers. Miguel ends the conversation by saying Pelé only has the status of being the best because he’s black, calling him King of the Gorillas.
The movie is an excellent thriller, much of it thanks to the director’s skills. Josef Kubota Wladyka not only knows how to keep the level of tension high but he also brilliantly shows the consequences after things go down.
Josef Kubota Wladyka is a very talented young filmmaker, I was glad to see his name on the credits of Narcos: Mexico, and I just saw on IMDb that he also directed some episodes of the original Narcos.
Delio and Jacobo are excellent characters, with their individualities and arcs, and the relationship between the two is also compelling, their conversations are a bright spot in the film. Both are likable in their own way, it’s easy for the audience to feel for them.
Cristian James Abvincula and Jarlin Javier Martinez were locals, recruited to play the parts. I enjoyed their performance before, but I liked even more after knowing they were not trained professionals.
A lot of the movie is over water, but there are little communities along the coast. The houses are impoverished, the people wear simple clothing and have a distrustful manner towards strangers. Where there are no shacks, there is untouched nature.
The cinematography is quite okay. I liked the colors, the different saturation for particular instances of the film, and so on. It’s one of the aspects of the movie that shows how competent and professional the production is.
It’s an excellent movie with a brutal but simple story. I’m sure this director will have even better works to present us in the future, for his first full-length work, Dirty Hands, I’m giving 8 Moons.
That’s it for now. Don’t forget that the war on drugs is ineffective, and anyone who says otherwise is either trying to fool you or is a fool himself.
See you in the next review.