Many years ago, action films were really popular in this country, with screen heroes like Fernando Poe Jr., Joseph Estrada, Tony Ferrer, Lito and Jess Lapid and Ronnie Ricketts ranking among the local movie industry’s biggest and most popular stars. Later, however, the once popular film type ceased to attract and interest viewers, and for a long time now, exceedingly few local action movies have been produced.
Of late, however, the action-adventure film mode has resurfaced—this time on TV, in fantaseryes that pit superheroes endowed with amazingly magical powers against a seemingly endless series of villains and monsters.
The hope is that the current popularity of such series will spark the rebirth of local action movies, hopefully to be supported by younger viewers who weren’t even born when action films faded into oblivion! Will this happen?
A young viewer sadly pooh-poohs the notion of any such rebirth, insightfully noting that the fantasy special effects in new teleseryes don’t appeal to genuine action buffs, but only to fantasticating children.
Real lovers of action movies prefer more physical rather than facile flights of fancy, and easy-breezy feats of derring-do blithely achieved through digital manipulation and prestidigitation.
If all that today’s new action heroes and superheroes on TV do is to resort to digitized effects in order to save the world from both human and superhuman evildoers, the Filipino action film will never experience a second spring, and local action buffs won’t go back to the movie houses.
But, isn’t it true that foreign action-adventure blockbusters are still popular, and don’t they resort to a lot of special effects to tell their stories? Yes, but “Transformers”-type movies are very different from the slam-bang actioners that used to star FPJ and Erap.
Local action buffs prefer fisticuffs to special effects, and they favor mano-a-mano combat between flesh-and-blood human beings, rather than manufactured superheroes who don’t bleed and feel pain.
One potentially effective way to revive the local action-adventure TV-film type would be the discovery and development of new and young screen heroes, the better for the country’s predominantly youthful TV viewership to have icons and idols to relate to, and empathize with.
In this regard, new teleseryes like “Indio” starring Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and “Juan de la Cruz” top-billing Coco Martin could presage some sort of rebirth and renewal—except for the fact that they also rely a lot on fantasticating elements and facile solutions to problems and conflicts.
It may be too late for Robin Padilla to go back to action-film mode, but his teenage nephew, Daniel Padilla, could pass muster as a youthful action hero for the current generation of viewers—if he works on his physique and martial arts, and other fighting skills.
Trouble is, Daniel is being built up more like a swoon-worthy teen romantic lead, so other possible action comers may have to be discovered, developed and put into play.
Meanwhile, Filipino action buffs patronize Hollywood’s blockbuster actioners, still hoping for the day when new local action heroes manage to reclaim their long-lost turf and throne!