To quote Lourd De Veyra, “can I have my action movie back, please?”
I grew up at a time when Fernando Poe Jr. (aka FPJ, “Da King”, “Ronnie” Poe, “Ang Panday”, the Man who would have been President) loomed large and indominable in local cinema. Lito Lapid, Rudy Fernandez (RIP), Anthony Alonzo and Dante Varona (whatever happened to them?) were not far behind in the pack, while Robin Padilla, Jestoni Alarcon, Jeric Raval and Ian Veneracion led the junior charge. The leading ladies, undoubtedly damsels in distress holding out for a hero, were the in-demand sex symbols of that period.
Jennifer Saunders’ take on the Bonnie Tyler hit “Holding Out For A Hero” (from Shrek II)
Of course, the villains cannot be discounted, with silver-haired Eddie Garcia cackling in jest as his hired guns do the dirty work (take a bow Paquito Diaz, Bomber Moran and the late Subas Herrero)
FPJ and Joseph Estrada in Baril sa Baril
Now it saddens me to see that action movies have practically become non-existent in most local producers’ annual schedules. Local movie production has become increasingly sporadic, with an inordinate focus on the youth market; therefore, if it is not romances based on couples being pushed together by the studio (or social media for that matter), there are supernatural sagas (which tend to ramp up doing the holidays) and lurid dramas dealing with marital infidelity among the (half-breed) middle class.
Heck, even the above-mentioned Robin Padilla is now doing leading-man roles (which isn’t as half bad as you might think, given his commitment to keeping fit)
Related link: ScreenJunkies list of the 10 Best Tagalog Action Movies
A great many of these Pinoy action movies dwelt on a great number of hoary clichés, but that didn’t distract from the appeal over their skewed beauty…that kind of raw verisimilitude that Hollywood-backed faux-indie hacks like Robert Rodriguez strive for in their lucid moments. Undoubtedly, a young Quentin Tarantino drew inspiration for one or two of these beauties among the video racks back in those days.
See what he does to stick it to the fuzz!!!
To sum a reply I made about Lourd De Veyra’s aforementioned SPOT.ph’s post, “My main concern is whether today’s crop of studio-built stars can credibly do action. So far I can only cite Derek Ramsey because of his build and MMA training (which don’t come cheap…heheh). Imagine the sheer ludicrousness of Sam Milby playing an NPA foot soldier? Can Gerald Anderson fire a gun and spit out colorful vernacular repartee without flinching?”
One may hope that The Bourne Legacy‘s shoot over here may spark a renaissance for the action-movie genre in these shores. One can plainly see that Thailand’s gracious hosting of Hollywood productions eager for new locations have bred the talent responsible for the Ong-Bak film series and Chocolate. If Indonesia can get its film industry on the map with the gritty The Raid: Redemption and its upcoming sequel, The Raid 2: Berandal (both of them directed by Welshman Gareth Huw Evans) why can’t we use the same to enable Filipino indie filmmakers to move out of the “gay movie” ghetto?
John Arcilla (who was among the Filipino cast of The Bourne Legacy) in a scene from Sean Ellis’ Sundance Filmfest entry Metro Manila.
Metro Manila trailer
Well, it may look like we are going on our way there…