Ain’t no crying shame

Tatlong Baraha was shown last night in a local cable channel.

I confess, I was entertained. However, I was trying to reconcile the thought of putting the Wild West in the fields of Philippine cogon and I must say that it requires a lot of suspension of disbelief. I know. It’s just a movie but you really have to stretch your imagination on this one.

Samurai flicks somehow have some measure of historical accuracy. The American wild West is a staple in American culture. They got Texas, Clint Eastwood and one of my favorite actors Charles Bronson but what I really can’t understand in Tatlong Baraha was that they have one of the good guys dressed like an American Indian who also looks like an American Indian named Geronimo. And he’s Filipino. Matatas pa mag-Tagalog!

Okay, a lot of people have said that Filipino movies in the 70s and early 80s were good and Tatlong Baraha belongs to that era. So I’m dishing out the good points:

Good points:

  1. The dialogue was seemless Tagalog/ Filipino. It doesn’t sound “makata” but rather it reminds you of how gentle it can sound. It’s nostalgic and it’s like hearing the good old days. But there were some instances where English expressions were present like “Wow” and “Mister” which isn’t bad either. Heck, Blade of the Immortal has punk expressions.
  2. I got to hand it to the guys who have thought of the costumes. Leon Guerrero wears a Zorro-inspired get-up. Julio Valiente has a salakot to go with his all-white apparel and you got Geronimo wearing the classic American Indian jacket with bantings. They’re all sharp-shooters and they can’t be hit by bullets.
  3. Simple plot with a twist. The movie doesn’t require much thinking and you can easily predict where’s its going to lead to.
  4. Action scenes that shout: Action Star! Before the Matrix, there was Tatlong Baraha against a hundred gun slingers wearing Mexican hats. Then there’s the non-refillable bullet catridge. They never ran out of bullets. And there’s also the somersault while firing a gun. This is the pre-cursor to Chow Yun Fat.
  5. You got the classic rogues’ gallery of actors. There’s Pacquito Diaz and Dick Israel who would make you think that you shouldn’t trust guys wearing a moustache. I’m just wondering why they didn’t cast Bomber Moran (oh, they did cast him).
  6. Confession of love. There’s the Harana scene that becomes a doo-doo-a-daa-daa when the trio were almost caught by the alcalde when they were about to serenade his three delicious daughters. Oh, yeah which leads to the next point…
  7. Leading ladies in pekpek shorts with fuck-me boots to become a perfect combination. Yes, yes. I have to include this.

Not-so-bad points:

  1. If movies mirror our society then we must be inside a fun house. I can’t pinpoint where at any point in our history we had a piece of the Wild West. I can only think of Mexico in Pampanga.
  2. There was this fight scene where the trio were all saddled on one horse AND none of them got hit BUT it didn’t look right either.
  3. A cliff hanger of an ending. The last scene shows how the troika escaped and how reinforcements came at the last minute. Reminds me of the usual scenario where the police would come in late.

The formula was okay but it never developed into something bigger. A few decades later, we’d see Lito Lapid do a remake of the movie entitled with son Mark and that hot tv actress Tanya Garcia who probably got pregnant after that movie.

One Comment

  1. avatar says:

    I have to agree, I mean the Philippines having a twisted sense of culture and I guess that’s why we’re lost in our own country. we don’t have a sense of who we really are and this movie, as entertaining as it is, is like documentation to what I said.

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