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Movie Review: The Asiong Salonga Story

If you are familiar with the name Asiong Salonga, then most likely you know what to expect in the movie “Manila Kingpin: The Untold Story of Asiong Salonga”. Street brawls, gang wars, guns, cigar smokes, and notorious gangsters with their “pomada-styled” hairs, checkered polos, and high-waisted pants. All these are seen in the only action movie entry in the 37th Metro Manila Film Festival. What makes this movie unique despite the fact that this is the fourth Asiong Salonga movie is that this movie is filmed in black and white, it gives the audience a feeling that they are watching straight from the streets of Tondo in the '50s.

Nicasio “Asiong” Salonga is a hero whose hands are tainted with bloods of gangsters who terrorized Tondo. In a place where money and power dictates the fate of every people, Asiong made his mark as a champion of the people and a pain in the ass of the police and prevailing gang leaders before him. People sought for his protection while the police chase him. Gangsters whose egos were trampled and their arms and contraband along with their power to reign were stolen by someone they labeled as a simple “siga ng kanto” seek for vengeance by ambushing him everywhere he went. Asiong, along with his seven faithful gang members proudly prowl the streets of Tondo, Manila as if half of their bodies were not already in the grave.

 Image courtesy of http://cebuanddavao.com/
Jorge Estregan, Jr. (E.R Ejercito) played the role of Asiong for the second time (his first role as Asiong was in 1990 remake of Asiong, Asiong Salonga: Hari ng Tondo). Though the Laguna governor doesn't look like a 27-year-old gangster leader, he sure looks like a tough-ass leader of a notorious gang in his cool composure even at a gunpoint, his fierce look when planning a revenge, and his charisma to women.

Cast includes Carla Abellana as Fidela, Asiong's wife, Philip Salvador, Baron Geisler, Dennis Padilla, Yul Servo, Amay Bisaya, Ketchup Eusebio, Ping Medina, Gerard Ejercito, and E.R Ejercito's son Jerico Ejercito as young Asiong.

Though Abellana possesses the beauty perfect for a wife of Manila Kingpin, she is not more than a beautiful actress in the film. The gang members, despite the age gap, look like authentic Tondo boys. Geisler's acting leveled with the other veteran actors like John Regala and Ronnie Lazaro.

The film was shot in black and white, giving the audience a feeling of nostalgia and making the violent scenes where there is so much blood less gory.

The soundtrack Hari ng Tondo sung by Gloc 9 featuring Denise is catchy. Gloc 9's rap summarizes the whole story of the film while the catchy chorus sung by his protegé (in the reality singing contest Protegé of GMA 7) captured the struggles of Asiong Salonga as the Robin Hood of Tondo. Pupil's vocalist Ely Buendia sung La Paloma. Buendia also appeared in the scene where Asiong and his wife is dancing sweetly in a party.

Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story is the perfect movie to watch if you need to take a break from fantasy or horror themed movie entries that are always present in MMFF. It's been a long time since action movies are shown in theaters. You might want to give this movie a chance to see that finally, there is a decent action film in MMFF 2011.

1 comment:

  1. just to clear one thing aot this movie.....the real asiong salonga was just 27 years old when he died. the actor here was in this movie is in his late forties or fifties. does not seem right.
    the plot of the film is loose and somewhat disjointed. i ant understand about the romance between the actors and their guns.....it seems like the story evolves around guns and senseless violence.
    there were no compelling conflicts in the story. the storyline is very upredictable and blatantly compartmentalized. the screenplay should have been polished since this is the fourth time this film is re made.
    i give tis movie two stars for effort and one star for the story.


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