The society of respected film critics that hands out the annual Gawad Urian in cinematic excellence

Ang Pumatay ng Dahil Sayo (1989)

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Action Adventure Drama with Substance

Ang Pumatay Nang Dahil Sa Iyo is the second major Tagalog movie (in memory) to take the bold and risky nationalist path of anti-Americanism, after Lupita Aquino-Kashiwahara's examination of the evils of the American presence in the Philippines, in Minsa'y Isang Gamu-Gamo (1976).

Ang Pumatay... is a typical Filipino action picture in that it follows a supposedly commercial formula dominated by macho fight scenes and even bigger, endless battle sequences. In Ang Pumatay..., Director Wilfredo Milan sees local social realities from a broad nationalist perspective. He has also demonstrated some very admirable qualities of an important filmmaker. He has a keen grasp of the film medium, he is a good story-teller and he has mastery of the action drama genre, able to stage provocative, fast-paced fight stunts.

But more than all these, he has a vision, and the courage to project it in the otherwise commercialistic medium. He is a keen observer of the political scene, infusing his macho sensibility - and admittedly his still conventional approach to the action picture- with his depth and breadth of vision.

Ang Pumatay Nang Dahil Sa Iyo offers a new set of villains, one that has been around since this country became a gold mine - literally and figuratively - for expanding foreign empires. The story is naturally set in a place where these villains may be found - Pampanga, home of the United States' biggest military base outside the homeland. Of course there are good Americans and there are bad Americans, just as there are ugly Filipinos and beautiful ones. But for its melodramatic purposes, Pumatay portrays Americans staying in the vicinity of Clark Air Base as bratty, horny satyrs out to deflower Filipino women. Not only that.

One male American named Glenn owns a night club where Filipino women sell pleasures of the flesh to locals and American transients. Buthey, are foreigners allowed to establish a business here? Glen's dummy is his local mistress named Espie (played with sincerity by the "bold star" Isadora) who runs the place and takes charge of the club hostesses-prostitutes.

Glen has a brother, Mike, who, in cahoots with local goons, abducts, rapes and, in a fit of madness, brutally kills the hero's virtuous sister Espie (Cathy Mora).

As the story unfolds, it becomes obvious that the sinister activities of the Americans in this country are not limited to such isolated incidents. A revolutionary war is going on, with the young, muscular hero Emil himself (Chuck Perez) as a pawn in this war.

Shadowy white figures meet with suspicious-looking locals for some strange and devious business which turns out to be the financing and formation of the controversial paramilitary vigilante group com-posed mostly of criminal types (among them, the pimpand criminals who kidnaped Espie).

There is no mention of the notorious Central Intelligence Agency (the CIA) or the Joint United States Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG) in this covert American activity here, but politically astute moviegoers would easily link these villains to the two US institutions.

Throughout the movie, there are negative references to Ameri-cans, starting with the hero Emil's father (Mario Escudero), a former (or just "retired") local revolutionary who has not severed his connections with the underground revolutionary forces. The old man is a noble peasant who grabs every chance to lash back at Americans.

Emil himself has to learn his lessons on the American duplicity here the awkward, then painful, way: first with the - to him shocking -transformation of his girlfriend Ann (Lara Melissa de Leon), into a little brown American who is Milan's answer to Rizal's affectedly Htepanized Dofia Victorina; then with the fate of his sister.

The other characters are presented as belonging to a particular sector of our polarized society. Vic Vargas, Alexander Vargas and Angela Luz are dedicated rebel warriors fighting for their beliefs, and determined to wipe out American "imperialism" here. They are not the stereotype rebels in other local movies about the insurgency, who are made to "see the light" and renounce violence in the end (after having participated in a series of savage battles with soldiers).

Eddie Garcia represents the military establishment which is branded as tuta ng Kano (lapdog of the Americans), but tuta on a broader, more significant and dangerous level. Michael de Mesa and Ruel Vernal are the petty henchmen of Americans engaged in some private business, but their worth to their foreign masters turn equally significant when they are trained as vigilante mercenaries programmed to beef up the official military forces in the government's fight against the anti-American freedom-fighters.

Years from now, most action movies will be remembered for the way they wowed the male action crowd. Ang Pumatay Nang Dahil Sa Iyo will be mentioned over and over again in the future for having achieved the next-to-impossible - turning a typical, exciting action picture into a mirror of the current local war with the Americans and a challenge to our patriotic sentiments.