Why have not have at least six movies all rolled into one, and all for the price of one? That must have been the thought process behind the making of Rodel Nacianceno’s take on Carlo J. Caparas’s Ang Panday. Since the MMFF is unapologetically back to being known as a herald of family-friendly, holiday films, it seems this positioning for the film has proven quite effective, earning for it second place in box office returns—as I only heard from the grapevine since a new MMFF ruling prohibits all producers from releasing sales reports.
Here it goes...
Film No. 1. Of course it starts with the feel of being a screen adaptation of the longest running soap opera on television at the moment, FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano, which is an adaptation of a film made into a teleserye, with the familiar faces you see on the TV show and a rowdy Flavio (Coco Martin) who seems like a jollier version of Cardo. It’s quite fun to watch actually as I hear the audience cheering Flavio on as he beats up the bullies, FPJ-style. At least, Da King’s essence lives on in this adaptation.
Film No. 2. Then we have the family of Flavio with a touching dinner conversation about trying to be better a person despite the chaos in the outside world, plus the dilemma of Awra’s character when it comes to his sexuality and acceptance. Though this part features a beauty pageant which is far from being an excerpt of RuPaul’s Drag Race, this portion feels more like an MMK episode, which eventually was also adapted into a film at some point.
Film No. 3. My most favorite moment in the film is when a squatter demolition scene suddenly turns into a flip-top battle ala-Respeto between the squatter and the police/demolition team. The fliptoppers are left for a while but return again at some point as Flavio serenades Maria (Mariel De Leon) while they back him up, then it becomes a full on music video with cardboard hearts and a band setup on the rooftop and a musical performance on a pedestrian overpass. So, there’s actually a small musical film in this epic. Sweet!
Film No. 4. Flavio is taken to the woods to retrieve the Panday’s balaraw and meets enchanted creatures. Suddenly, it’s Lord Of The Rings with a curse using Snapchat filters. Watch the film and you’ll get what I mean. This part’s gloriousness cannot be expressed by words. You would have to experience it.
Film No. 5. Now armed with the balaraw, Flavio is ready to take on the dark entities of Lizardo played by the immensely intense and serious actor Jake Cuenca. And in a scene of him on his motorbike, he obliterates these monsters inside a train ala-Train to Busan. But he apparently is still not ready to take on these dark forces as he is killed by a dagger to his heart by Lizardo himself. Of cours,e the film does not end there. Are you crazy? Ang dugo ng Panday dying? The people in Mindanao might start firing at the screen. Flavio, of course, magically comes back to life. Now he has to undergo rigorous training.
Film No. 6. Enter: The Karate Kid with Lito Lapid as Mr. Miyagi, teaching Flavio that his power lies not in his sword but in his heart. Empowered by his new training, Flavio challenges Lizardo to a duel. With the Boses ng Kadiliman (Eddie Garcia) sensing Flavio’s renewed strength, he enters Lizardo’s body who suddenly transforms into Lizardo 2.0 looking like a cross between ‘The Crow’ and ‘The Joker’ from The Dark Knight series. Lizardo then takes Flavio to his world, a barren deserted place. Finally! This is the Panday I remember. An epic battle ensues and I don’ think I even have to tell you how it ends.
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Whew! That’s a lot of films. If that’s not enough to entertain the Filipino audiences, I don’t know what will. But what I admire most about this production is that it did not scrimp on the budget when it comes to production design, costumes, makeup, special effects, and the likes. This looks like the most expensive production among all of the entries in this year’s MMFF. I am hoping that Ang Panday was able to recoup and earn enough at the box office to be able to come up with an even bigger part two for next year. We wouldn’t to deprive the kids of their Panday fix, would we?
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Banner photograph taken from Mariel de Leon's Instagram account