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By Nonoy L. Lauzon/UP Film Institute

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Those who dismiss Filipino films is best advised to see this docu to realize that for all the faults and ineptitude that one may find in them, the fact remains that they are created by menand women who genuinely care for their art and have the best intentions to make full use of what they concede to be their God-given talents.

There is something utterly groundbreaking with the documentary feature The Last Pinoy Action King, about the late actor Rudy Fernandez. Directed by Andrew Leavold and Daniel Palisa, the film had its world premiere as opening presentation for this year’s QCinema.

A local government undertaking, QCinema or the Quezon City International Film Festival under the auspices of the Quezon City Film Development Commission, is now on its third year with main competition involving duly funded Philippine features. International titles are also in exhibition for the festival’s other sections.

Leavold proves to be the perfect guy to be at the helm of The Last Pinoy Action King. Famed for Australia’s largest cult video rental store Trash Video, the filmmaker had at one time been described as “an unrepentant and voracious fan of the pulpier aspects of genre cinema.” Co-director Palisa is his reliable ally and committed comrade in forming the production outfit Death Rides a Red Horse. The duo is also the creative tandem behind the 2013 release, The Search for Weng Weng, a chronicle of Filipino B-movies and the Philippines’ midget James Bond.

Primarily meant as a tribute to the memory of a beloved and much-missed action star who passed away in 2008, The Last Pinoy Action King has been transformed from a larger-than-life portrait of the actor to a grand statement on the domestic film industry with the vanishing of the era of action pictures.

Philippine cinema is so rich in heritage and tradition such that there are manifold ways to recount its history. As it approaches its centennial in 2019, Philippine cinema is unwittingly commemorated in a most special instance with this latest docu intended most appropriately for the giant screen.

With an interesting assembly of celebrity interviewees, the film unravels a constellation of showbiz who’s who, dishing out wisecracks and proceeding with interpellation of each other’s insights and suppositions.
Eventually, the film gets to piece together a big picture of Philippine cinema through the years rendered evermore resplendent with a revelation on its commanding niche in the world. The country may not be producing the most expensive screen blockbusters for the international market, but it has remained to be one of the most prolific. Its stars and artists are most passionate with their craft and they see in the movies they make and the people who enjoy them a fulfillment of their dreams, calling and vocation.

Rudy died suffering from a malignant disease and the docu with such circumstances arrives at a most apt metaphor for the film industry that had its own battle with the death of the big-screen action hero. No one really anticipated the end of the action flick in the country especially since at one point, some five simultaneous generations of action stars (Note: Rudy belonged to the third) were coming out one after another with their starrers non-stop. But as all things come to an end, it didn’t have to be different for the cinema of the action hero.

Leavold and Palisa’s docu is most commendable for gathering the boys in Rudy’s life. The man nicknamed Daboy sired three sons who are now all grownups and have since the time of their father’s demise come into their own themselves. But apart from them, there is this set of men that had comprised the actor’s support system long before his combat with his grave affliction. They are all immortalized in the film reminiscing about Rudy and the exclusive club they somewhat forged as they each went through their respective travails in life, love and career.

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The docu worthy of wide theatrical release also regales audiences with a precious plethora of tidbits, trivia and anecdotes that may be cherished not for their nostalgia value alone. More than anything else, they serve as enduring testimonials to an industry that never lacked for glory days and the means to actually relive and recoup them someday.

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