I’m Filipino but I don’t care much about our local movies. Sure, I love many things about the Philippines– our people, natural resources, culture, food, clothes, history, music, sports and games, and of course, our martial arts. The movies, however are different. In my mind, many are slapstick, commercialized, and haphazardly done.
So I was glad that the recent Metro Manila Film Festival included Andres Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo . If you don’t know yet, Andres Bonifacio was the leader of the Philippine Revolution and especially interesting to us Filipinio Martial Artists, is his fighting prowess. He usually fought holding an itak in one hand and a revolver in the other. Now, that’s impressive!
I looked forward to watching the movie because I knew it would be educational (we Filipinos are not experts in our own history) and it would also be a show of support to movie makers who strive to make quality, patriotic films.
And of course, I wanted to see the fights! Later on I found out that the fight scenes were choreographed by Sonny Sison, who did a lot of work in Hollywood.
Well anyway, according to one interview I watched on TV, the movie aimed to present an aspect of Andres Bonifacio’s life not known to many: his love love. Okay, I accept that. So, I sat through those lovey-dovey parts and waited for the fight scenes.
Well, my reaction? The fight scenes were too few and too dark!
The fights were mostly done in the dark that I had to strain my eyes to catch the details of the moves. There were lots of running, jumping over fires, grunting, and blade against blade sounds. I saw a lot of powerful, long-range strikes utilizing a lot of our angles. But disappointingly, that’s about it. It was just too dark to see.
Maybe the director did not want the scenes to be too gory so he made the lighting dim. But for me, whose main goal was to enjoy the fight scenes, it was a let-down.
The last scene where Bonifacio and his men ran in a large open field, towards the enemies guns and canyons was dramatic but I wonder if they were really that “brave” to face the enemies that way.
My main take home thoughts?
- Fighters should learn how to fight in darkness or dimly lighted areas. In fact, I agree with my friend Mio that all martial artists should get a stint as a Barangay Tanod to get the feel of how it is to fight in the dark or dimply lighted areas where opponents would suddenly spring out of nowhere.
- Fighters should do lots of cardiovascular exercises also. In the movie, the revolutionaries would jump over fires and run fast in big open fields carrying their weapons. Now, that would be hard to do if all you train in are weapon techniques, right?
So anyway, thank you for this intelligent and high-quality movie. It helped clarify some points in our history.
It’s just sad that this movie did not make a lot in the box office but I hope that it won’t deter movie makers from going this path again. Maybe us Filipinos will shape up and finally learn to appreciate good history films.
I hope so.
Pugay to all!
You can watch the whole movie here. The longest fight scene is at around 1:05