Why film board gave ‘Asiong Salonga’ remake the coveted ‘A’ grade | Inquirer Entertainment

Why film board gave ‘Asiong Salonga’ remake the coveted ‘A’ grade

By: - Reporter
/ 10:48 PM January 05, 2012

CARLA Abellana and E.R. Ejercito

“Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story” earned a grade of “A” from the Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB) because it was a “fine example of a period film” and because its director, Tikoy Aguiluz, was “able to establish believable characters through masterfully conceived and executed action scenes,” said a reviewer.

“Asiong” is a remake of the 1961 film that starred former President Joseph Estrada. It is based on the life of Tondo’s No. 1 gangster in the late 1940s, Nicasio “Asiong” Salonga, who was linked to a number of murder and homicide cases but eluded capture until he was killed by a rival gang’s henchman.


A coproduction of Viva Films and Scenema Concept International, it bagged 11 major awards, including best film, during the recent Gabi ng Parangal of the 37th Metro Manila Film Festival.


Tax rebate

A film grade “A” gets a 100-percent tax rebate; a film graded “B” gets 60 percent, according to CEB chair Christine Dayrit.

“‘Asiong’ is a worthy and welcome return for Aguiluz; it is his tribute to old action films, albeit updated,” another reviewer added.

Controversy hounded the film to such an extent that Aguiluz demanded that his name be deleted from the credits and promo materials. He claimed that “Asiong” was reshot, reedited, and rescored without his knowledge, and should no longer be attributed to him.

“The film is well-crafted, despite some scenes meant to be more cinematic than factual,” said a CEB summative report. “On the whole, it is an effort worth watching [though] it tended to be too glamorized and stylized and, at times, almost self-indulgent.”


More comments from reviewers: The script was “good and restrained despite the underlying melodramatic tendencies … writers (Roi Iglesias and Rey Ventura, who bagged the best screenplay trophy) are able to mine the story material to the fullest. The cast performed well: from the cigar-chomping Golem (John Regala), to the toothpick-biting Erning (Baron Geisler), to the conflicted policeman/brother Phillip Salvador.”

‘Awkward’ lead

Laguna governor E.R. Ejercito, who plays Asiong, “seems awkward in some scenes, but is supported well” by the cast, the CEB report said.

Another reviewer noted that “a more Pinay-looking actress” would have been better cast as the wife, rather than “the almost always perfectly coiffed and made-up” Carla Abellana.

But acting was mostly fine and editing was “very good… holding down the sentimentality of the story treatment.” It showed “economic precision,” although some reviewers complained that there were too many fight scenes.

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Another board member said: “The lighting, angles, perspective, and camera movements all reveal how particular the director was in what he wanted his audience to see and experience.”

TAGS: Carla Abellana, Cinema Evaluation Board, E.R. Ejercito, Tikoy Aguiluz

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