Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ang Mga Kidnaper Ni Ronnie Lazaro (Sigfreid Barros Sanchez, Sineng Pambansa 2012 Best Picture)

Soliman Cruz. Dwight Gaston. Hector Macaso. Raul Morit.

Any of the names ring a bell? Those are names of character actors, who are regular fixtures in indie films. But, sadly, very few viewers know their faces. They are just like Lilia Cuntapay, that is, way before she became an award-winning star in a Cinema One Originals film. You need to describe their characters before a fellow viewer can identify them.

Soliman Cruz is the calm funeral manager in Bwakaw. Yes, the 'mabuhay po kayo' guy. Raul Morit is the creepy taxi driver in The Animals. Siya iyung balbas-saradong rapist-killer. See? These guys appear for mere seconds or minutes but they can leave a big impression on viewers.

They have done a variety of marked roles in local films. Criminal. Good guy. Crooked cop. Barkada. Add two more roles to that list.

Kidnapper. Filmmaker.

The four usual suspects are joined in by Noni Buencamino, and Epy Quizon as filmmakers/kidnappers in Sigfreid Barros Sanchez’s laugh-a-thon Ang Mga Kidnaper ni Ronnie Lazaro. The six filmmakers are so desperate to cast the elusive Ronnie Lazaro in an indie film that they are forced to abduct him.

If you’re wondering about the overall feel of this film, then think of The King of Comedy. Whether it is Martin Scorsese’s black comedy or the late Dolphy that crops up in your mind, you’re partly right because both, amazingly, figure prominently in the film. Unknown actors are given the chance to shine and entertain viewers and, in the end, be at par with legendary comics.

Locally-made action films get mostly skewered in this film. Action films ceased to become a box-office draw after audiences got tired of familiar plots and over-the-top set pieces bordering on ridiculousness. Star complex and its sky-high effect on talent fees and production costs further doomed the action film.

Much hyped-about saviors but ultimately lame action films such as Ishmael and Hitman came into my mind when the ‘film within a film’ is being played out. The lengthy kilometric exchange of words by the bida and kontrabida is played for comic purposes. The use of biblical scriptures and the ubiquitous bodega hideout also get their fair share of laughs. There’s the hilarious nod to Lito Lapid’s amazing splitting of bullet wizardry. 

The laughs come freely because of the extraordinary rapport of the seven actors. The give-and-take and impeccable timing of the actors put the spotlight on the jokes. No one tries to upstage their fellow actors. Ronnie Lazaro was on the verge of breaking out into laughter several times in the movie. He can’t help it because his poker-faced colleagues are truly funny. They are so good that the ensemble cast was awarded the Best Actor(s) award at the Sineng Pambansa 2012. The film nabbed the Best Picture award.

Ang Mga Kidnaper ni Ronnie Lazaro doesn’t only entertain viewers but also points out several problems (and solutions) in the film industry. Producers of action films should try to inject new things and concepts. Scenema Concepts International did right with Manila Kingpin but did wrong with Tikoy Aguiluz. Technically proficient filmmakers need to focus more on improving their story-telling skills and not rely solely on flashy, slick editing and gorgeous cinematography. Passion and determination can overcome yearly script rejections, which Sanchez endured with Cinemalaya organizers.

Director Sanchez, during the Luzon premiere of the film, said the hilarious film was his tribute to the comedy king, Rodolfo Dolphy Vera Quizon. It was something that he is so proud of that he regrets not being able to show to the late actor. Those were big words which he was able to back up. The film delivered torrential hearty laughter just like the old Dolphy movies I used to watch on Channel 9 and at Galaxy and Odeon theaters in Avenida. I ambled out of the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Little Theatre with a joyous smile and singing ‘hey, hey, hey…hey, hey, hey.’

One more time, let’s sing… ‘And here’s to you, Dolphy Quizon…’


  1. Maraming, maraming salamat po sa rebyu!

  2. Thanks! Good luck on your upcoming screening/s:

    September 28, Friday at 7:30 pm in Cine Adarna, UP Diliman, Quezon City

    4th quarter of 2012 at Videotheque cinemas

  3. I haven't thanked you for this review. Maraming salamat!