Supremo

                Supremo movie posterSupremo is a Filipino biographical film about Andres Bonifacio, also known as our other national hero. I haven’t heard of a biopic film about him before this that’s why I did not hesitate to watch it when given the opportunity.

                The movie covered Bonifacio’s struggles to lead a rebellion against the oppressive governance of the Spaniards. It was presented here that if Jose Rizal aimed for reforms to gain independence, Bonifacio clearly wanted freedom with use of arms. The movie might not have been as seamless as GMA Film’s Jose Rizal (1998), but it did have brilliant scenes that make it worthy of praise from critics and non-critics alike.

                Alfred Vargas, who portrayed Bonifacio in Supremo, was brilliant. He portrayed his role with the kind of demeanor that’s associated with the aforementioned hero. He commanded his comrades with real authority and fought his battles with unparalleled bravery. Other actors who stood out include Nicco Manalo, who portrayed the hero known for being short and yet pragmatist Emilio Jacinto, and Nica Naval, who portrayed Bonifacio’s lover, Oriang. These actors more than cover up for the extras who fumbled during their dialogues and seemed to care only in memorizing their lines and not delivering them well.

                 The last several scenes of the movie were too heavy to bear. Of course, I already knew what would happen in the story, but watching it was a very different matter. I do admit that I did cry a little during the last scene where the supremo met his end in a very harrowing manner. So you have to prepare yourself if you still don’t know how our other national hero died once you decide to watch this film.

                 The film was visually stunning. It  had great cinematography and production design. I was surprised to find out that it was only shot for 15 days in a very limited budget as I could compare it to some great Western movies of Hollywood. I consider it as one of the most beautifully shot Filipino films that I have seen. Despite its limitations in production sets, the movie could boast that each of its scenes was a scene of beauty. The director was very good in taking shots where either subtle actions or epic scenarios happened.

                Sadly, what could have been a very great movie had been shattered by inconsistent story-telling and lack-luster performances from some of the actors. It seemed like each scene was important, but when taken together they proved to be very limiting. The flashbacks used could have helped by adding them to clarify things and not just to add historical facts. A continuous, unparalleled story-line about the protagonist’s leadership and battles could have been a better alternative.

                 Nevertheless, the movie was a good one. Watch it if you have the chance, especially if you’re planning to watch El Presidente, the upcoming biographical film about Emilio Aguinaldo. By comparing the stories presented in these two movies will we be able to know if there are lapses in presenting the truth about these two sons of Katipunan.

Supremo movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4 out of 5

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Rurouni Kenshin

Rurouni Kenshin movie posterRurouni Kenshin is the most-awaited live-action movie adaptation of Nobuhiro Watsuki’s manga and anime series (locally known here as Samurai X) that thousands of Filipinos have watched during the late 1990s.

The movie is about Himura Kenshin (Takeru Sato), a bloodthirsty swordsman who was called Battousai during the Bakumatsu War turned good-hearted and peace-loving wanderer. He met a young swordsmanship school owner named Kamiya Kaoru (Emi Takei), who’s into a fight with a ruthless murderer claiming to be the Battousai, damaging the reputation of her dojo. It’s up to Kenshin, Kaoru and the rest of their allies to stop the fake Battousai from commiting more murders and resolve a looming opium problem in their village.

I am glad to say that the movie did not disappoint. In fact, it’s a great adaptation of the manga/ anime series. The actors chosen to bring to life the main figures much loved by many are all in character. Standouts among the supporting cast include Munetaka Aoki as Sanosuke, an ally of Kenshin who wields the big sword called Zanbato; Taketo Tanaka as Yahiko, the remaining student in Kaoru’s dojo; Yuu Aoi as Megumi, the flirty but great physician who’s involved in an opium syndicate; Teruyuki Kagawa as Takeda Kanryu, a fierce opium dealerand Yosuke Eguchi as Saito, a former samurai who now works as a special agent for the Meiji government.

The whole production team made sure the movie brought back the cultural and political Japan during the 19th century with its great cinematography and production design. The atmosphere I have always felt while watching the anime series before has returned while watching the movie. It also helped that the costumes the actors wore were very faithful to the series!

What I like best in the movie is its pacing. It did not hurry up as it commanded its own pace, producing great results. I believe that even though you are not familiar with the manga or the anime, you will appreciate the movie by itself. The action scenes were good, but the fight scenes during the climax were definitely epic. Kenshin’s battles with the main villains were a sight to behold, while Sanosuke’s fights were worthy of a good look. One Sanosuke scene has even commanded applause from the audience because of very good comic timing.

Rurouni Kenshin was a great film not only because it was a great adaptation of what I have watched as a young teenager but because it has successfully combined the elements that make an anime series a hit. The movie has beauty, intensity and heart.

Rurouni Kenshin movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4.5 out of 5