Arisaka (2021)

Arisaka is a survival action thriller that has a few prerequisites for it to be worthwhile: You must be able to ignore glaring plot contrivances, the blatant use of incompetent henchmen trope, and the silly part where our heroine (Maja Salvador) finds the remains of a dead WWII Japanese soldier in a cave and proceeds to steal the poor guy’s Arisaka rifle. (Thought it would’ve made more sense if it was the Aetas who gave it to her, but anyway.) Gorgeous cinematography, you say? Sure, but I would definitely dislike it less had the movie not drag and drag for most of its running time. Most of it is just Maja Salvador moaning, grunting, memorizing names for whatever stupid purpose it might serve her, and shambling through the forest just slightly faster than a Romero zombie. How was she able to outrun and escape the rogue cops who were after her? Incompetent henchmen trope, plot armor, lazy writing. The movie also preaches its message about indigenous people so lazily that it makes Lito Lapid’s Hindi Palulupig (1992), with its depiction of Aetas fighting against abusive hacienderos, almost worthy of being included in the National Film Registry — its local counterpart, if there was one. Sure, a lot of effort went into the movie’s look and sound design, and its painstakingly detailed depiction of head shots and exit wounds. And probably a lot less went into writing, plot, and whatever’s that which makes the action beats generate tension and suspense. Arisaka is a formulaic and frustratingly slow B-movie actioner (but will most likely get a pass because it’s) dressed in arthouse/festival circuit clothing.

Daredevil Season 1, The Suicide Squad, and The Falcon And The Winter Soldier (is one long boring title)

Took a full day off today. Still nursing a mild headache, probably from getting slightly more sleep than the usual, and took paracetamol for wrist joint pain that awoke me last night. It’s probably gout (Shit! We’re getting old). And it’s probably due to eating too much meat because we don’t have much Continue reading “Daredevil Season 1, The Suicide Squad, and The Falcon And The Winter Soldier (is one long boring title)”

5 Reasons Why You Should See ‘Maria’

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Come May 17, Maria will start streaming on Netflix. If you live overseas or you missed it during its theatrical run, here’s your chance to see it. And below are five reasons why you shouldn’t miss.

1) It’s R-rated, not whiny PG-13. This is not comic book kiddie stuff, which means there’s sex and violence. Uhm, okay, not exactly—there’s no sex; sexy, yes, but there’s violence for sure. There are few painfully detailed scenes of torture and gore. And KC Montero excels as one of the sadistic villains.

2) Filipino martial arts. Maria isn’t a full-on martial arts film like The Raid or The Night Comes For Us. It’s an action movie with fights that features FMA (Filipino martial arts). Where have we seen that before? Have you heard of Jason Bourne? Yes, FMA is one of the techniques used in those Bourne movies. The more recent BuyBust also features FMA. What more? The movie also features bladed weapons such as karambit (a curved knife) and balisong (butterfly knife).

3) Impressive fight scenes. FMA and fight choreography alone doesn’t guarantee an engrossing action sequence. Put in a little dose of shaky cam and you ruin the whole thing. Good thing there are no shaky cams in Maria. (Hello, The Bourne Supremacy!) There are no 12 cuts every 4 seconds. (Fuck you, The Winter Soldier!) And there are few inventive fight sequence in the movie. There’s a bathroom fight between two femme fatales that would probably fit in No Other Woman; there’s a tense chase sequence in a public market; and, probably my favorite, the part where Maria attacks a warehouse that segues into a great hallway fight. And there’s a bloody shower scene after one of those bloody fights. But this particular scene’s not sexual, just sexy.

4) The one and only Ronnie Lazaro. I first saw Ronnie Lazaro in the telenovela Ezperanza (with Judy Ann Santos), where he played the evil stepfather. And when he did a 180-degree turn in another telenovela, Kay Tagal Kitang Hinintay, where he played the adoptive father of John Lloyd Cruz’s character, that’s when I said to myself (what a wonderful world!), this guy’s the shit. Turns out he’s already been in films like Oro Plata Mata and Boatman before. Anyways, he really needs no introduction. He is THE Ronnie Lazaro. And in Maria, he plays assassin, mentor, friend and fairy godmother. Yep, you read that right.

5) Cristine Reyes as Maria. Forget about comic book movies, forget about Captain Marvel, if you really want memorable portrayal of a strong female character. Alita? She’s OK, she kicks ass, but if you want something not limited by PG-13 rating, then you should definitely go see Cristine Reyes kick some butts. She excels in action as well as in the dramatic scenes. Aside from those kick ass fight scenes mentioned above, there’s a fun back and forth between Maria and Sir Greg (Ronnie Lazaro) in the movie’s few quiet moments.