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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Flick Review: Manila Kingpin – The Asiong Salonga Story

12/28/2011 (re-updated 01/05/2012) 12:45 PM

Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story is a motion picture made by Scenema Concept International, distributed thru VIVA Films and with help of CMB Film services. It has an all-star cast led by Jeorge Estregan, Carla Abellana, Phillip Salvador, Joko Diaz, Ketchup Eusebio, Yul Servo, Baron Geisler, Jay Manalo, John Regala, Jaycee Parker, Ping Medina, Paloma, Valerie Concepcion, Dennis Padilla, and a whole lot more. Screenplay by Roy Iglesias and Rey Ventura, Directed by Tikoy Aguiluz and produced by Maylyn Enriquez and Leonard Villalon.

It is one of the 7 entries on the 37th Metro Manila Film Festival held within the period of December 25, 2011 – January 7, 2012.

Its story is based on the life and times of one of the Philippines' "Public Enemy #1" in the name of Nicasio Salonga. He was named Hito, Asiong and Manila Kingpin for doing Robin hood-like tactics. He stole money from other gangs just to give money to the poor. And self-proclaimed owning Tondo and protecting his people from the other gangsters and rivals. He turned out to be popular then and a Liberal party follower. On how he managed to fight and brutally kill his enemy hoodlums.; He faced his life sentence and managed to get passed by the police and the penalties of his numerous cases; how strong his advocacy for change, and even his untimely death of that fateful day of October 7, 1951.

However, this film was hampered by controversy inside its personnel and its releases. Movie Director Tikoy Aguiluz took a legal action that removes his name from the reel, promotional materials and that includes even in the side of social media and the internet. He prompted to take the action due to reason that there are scenes that had been re-shooted without his consent. Another thing is the so-called "sabotage." In fact, this film was shown to only 17 out of 51 movie theaters in Metro Manila in Christmas Day of 2011, prompting lead actor whom was also known as Laguna Governor ER Ejercito to cry "Sabotage!"

But here's my take:
  • Technical aspects, they're really doing good. Even if there are some bits of lapses, it doesn't really matter. They executed things up with as perfect as they could. I'm talking about visual effects by the way. But the editing says them all, somehow I have seen few flicks that a movie turned out to be beautiful in some point because of that aspect. The sounds, musical scoring, very appropriately. What I really mean is that in some cases or scenes in this film that may went wrong in the eyes of the viewers, some factors also filled its gap -- which is good to keep the momentum and flow as the story goes by.
  • Story. Well, I know some excerpts of this movie were not really shown or the other way around, but at least what more can I say? Of all the 7 entries of MMFF, this thing's a real deal! I mean, real story, real news, everything. And one more thing – Quotable quotes. There are lines from the movie where you can feel the real swag of one's character. Screenplay was nice. No wonder it won the award. Though of course, on the flip side, there are some "manipulated" turn of events, but still considerable shot.
  • Cast. Nothing more to say. It's always been like every year that every movie entry to the film fest were star-studded. What's the difference on this movie is that perhaps the mixed fusion. There were old veterans of action movies in this one with the younger ones whom were representing the other side of today. (You know what I mean, perhaps) 
  • Acting-wise, I can't really make a comment on how they portrayed the role, except for the fact that ER had a chance to win the best actor but eventually went to Dingdong Dantes of Seguna Mano. I haven't seen the movie so I can't really make a comment on that aspect. But for the supporting actors, WOW. Actually there are 3 entries sent for that award. Namely, Phillip Salvador (as Asiong's brother Domeng), Baron Geisler (as Ernesto Reyes a.k.a. Erning Toothpick, Asiong's lead sidekick) and John Regala (as Totoy Golem, one of the main antagonists). Regala won the awrad that turned out to be his comeback film. Well, not bad to spare his second wind in the movie-making industry considering that he suffered a bunch of personal problems and Estregan, his friend in real life helped him to get back even if they were arch-nemesis in the casting.
  • Soundtrack. I haven't heard yet any songs from the other movies if there are any, but the 2 tracks showcased in this film were barely amazing. Ely Buendia had a cameo role in one of scenes where he was playing the band's singer for the movie track "La Paloma," while the other track "Hari ng Tondo" were performed by rapper Gloc-9 and Denise Barbacena.
  • Scenes that I personally liked: The first few minutes of the film. Literally, the boiling-point scenes, include those heavy lines.
  • Though I have something to dislike, that would be the scenes which I haven't really understand even if I saw the entire film for the second time. Specifically, when Asiong was sent to bartolina. I did not really get it except for the thought that anyone who might be there in that alone, dark room, (and possibly with cuffs on your hand and that chain-ball like thing on your foot) may suffer insanity for a moment.
Overall, It was a highly calibrated film, though underestimated by the conflicts occurred. Well, It always happens in the entertainment industry (of course, media won't expose much of it unless they will earn from that) truly a memorable motion picture that hopefully, sparked a wind for the action films to come back. Untold from the underworld. Brutal but with the bang and sense. Real swagger if you can translate it to therms of the present times. Hard-action. Perhaps...

Well, whether they're running last or not in terms of sales-speaking, I can only tell another thing: This film deserves to win! If not here, then at the international side of life. (Well, it's kinda impressive that they have won several awards in the last year's awarding night) As the rift goes, ER hopefully reconciles with Tikoy Aguiliuz soon, though there's an issue that Aguiluz wants his cut to be released for inetrnational contests. Well, let's see the developments about it though. The lead actor, whose his uncle former-Philippine President Joseph Estrada is also played the lead role of the same movie in 1961, insists that the goal is not to be the festival box-office top-grosser. “Our objective is to make a quality film that we can proudly send to festivals abroad.” He is pleased with the high mark from the CEB. “It made us forget all the hardships and sleepless nights.”

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