Action film buffs can still definitely recall Kamagong, the polo-clad Lito Lapid and JC Bonnin starrer back in 1986 that centered on the Filipino martial art of arnis. The movie was derived from Carlo J. Caparas' comic book series, with the same pop culture icon writing and directing the motion picture. More than 30 years after it hit local theaters, an animation company is now sold on producing its animated version.
Filipino-founded Sinag Animation Studios (SAS) is set to release an anime-styled series of Kamagong sometime in 2019. Instead of Caparas, Christian Mark Vidallo, Crisanto King Cortez, and Dex Villamin take over the helm of scriptwriting. Rocksteady frontman and It's Showtime host Teddy Corpuz revives JC Bonnin’s “Ako’y Magwawagi” from the original soundtrack.
The animated series now follows the story of protagonist Bagtas, heir to Namayan, a foreign empire-slaved kingdom. Bagtas' goal is to find the eight bulawans of Bathala, on a mission to unleash the true power of the titular weapon Kamagong.
SAS has previously announced three other characters to aid Bagtas in his journey: Kinari, a female guardian of Amang Puno, the source of origin of Arnis Kamagong; Bagsay, a gunslinger who returned to his homeland to avenge his family; and Otto, a fighter who uses his inhuman strength against Namayan’s enemies.
“Kamagong deserves its near-legendary status in Philippine cinema for making the nation aware of one of its greatest cultural treasures, the art of arnis,” Villamin said in a statement. He added how the film may benefit local tourism, with the quests shot in various locations across the Philippines.
More recently, arnis—an indigenous martial art also known as eskrima or kali—has made it to the Western radar. Hollywood action flicks such as Mission Impossible III, The Scorpion King III, and the Bourne series employed the art in some of their sequences. Even cartoon characters Nightwing (DC) and Daredevil (Marvel) have been portrayed to be armed with arnis sticks.
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Banner image courtesy of DC Comics, for illustrative purposes only