Movie Review: Heneral Luna Demands to be Watched

An epic movie about a slice of Philippine history. Bored already? About General Antonio Luna. Who was he exactly? Played by John Arcilla. Uhm, who? (Disclaimer: not my reactions)

While there is a growing demand for well-made, substantive mainstream Filipino movies, I think it is safe to generalize that it is hard to compete with Hollywood blockbusters like Maze Runner: The Scorch Trial and even with a campy film Ex With Benefits featuring Derek Ramsay’s abs but the historical drama Heneral Luna demands to be watched. And it should be watched.

John Arcilla is great actor. Filipino film enthusiasts, especially those who have a thing for watching independent films, know how great of an actor he is. And it showed in Heneral Luna. The way he portrayed the hot-headed general who fought during the Philippine-American war was really, really entertaining.

It also didn’t hurt that he got support from really talented actors, who may not be that popular (save for Paulo Avelino), but really gave great performances.

The story, while based on historical facts, was mixed with fiction to better tell the story. But the message still comes across strongly — that in Philippine’s history, there was a time when the Filipinos’s greatest enemy was not the colonizers, but each other.

I am amazed by how the whole movie looked. The effects were cleverly used to tell an epic story without boring the viewers. I especially liked the scene where Luna’s past was being told in a theatrical way instead of just doing it in straight narrative.

With too much brutal killing, I was surprised it got an R-13 rating from the MTRCB. But I guess the basis of which is the “kenkoy” approach to these killings. They let go of the gore and replaced it with a rather comedic approach suitable for high school students, who really should be watching this movie. For a while, I though I was watching a zombie movie.

Antonio Luna is not my top-of-mind Filipino hero. He wouldn’t even be in my top five, but after watching the film, I got to admire the man who led the Philippine army despite strong opposition.

And after watching this film, I have less love for Emilio Aguinaldo. I bet he still had great contributions to the freedom we enjoy today, but still. Not my favorite hero.

To attract more students, tickets are on a 50% discount if students show a valid ID. So please take advantage of it and watch the film. The film is worth your PhP100.

Heneral Luna is a visual feast that takes you on a story every Filipino should at least be familiar with.

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