The effort of politician/actor Jeorge “ER” Estregan to revive Filipino action films is admirable, and, if anything, deserves a bit of respect.
His well-intentioned attempt, the 2013 Metro Manila Film Festival entry, Boy Golden: Shoot to Kill is a period film that revisits the mid-1960s, defined by vaudeville or “bodabil,” a theatrical form of entertainment.
The production wisely maximizes the theme, coming up with colorful, vibrant scenes that know no dulls from the costumes down to the various background settings. The transition from one scene to another gives the audience a feel of theater, which combined with bloody and ruthless shootouts—because the film also depicts the life of a thug—makes Boy Golden a unique and thrilling watch.
Chito Roño’s versatility as a director reflects in his film. Action-heavy but not without drama and a tinge of comedy, Boy Golden is the biopic of Arturo Porcuna, a Tondo gangster whose mission is to avenge the murder of his family against the much more affluent and influential gangster, Tony Razon (John Estrada).
Porcuna crosses path with the film’s femme fatale, the stripper with a flair for kicking hooligan butts, Marla De Guzman (KC Concepcion). More popularly known as Marla D., she also seeks Razon’s death since she was previously sexually abused by the said gangster.
Boy Golden’s revenge plot is embedded with backstories and twists that give life not only to the main characters but as well to the supporting ones. As with any gangster film, the supporting characters are clear-cut and remarkably bad-ass.
Notable is the film’s vivid sketch of gangsters and doyens that comprise the Manila underworld—old-hands Nanay Puring (Gloria Sevilla) and Atty. Sagalongos (Eddie Garcia); shady Chinese man, Mr. Ho (Leo Martinez); also the two-faced albino, Datu Putla (Baron Geisler).
ER Ejercito’s inept acting (while he could be funny sometimes) and KC’s ever awkward default expression (albeit her splendid martial arts prowess) are saved by the solid performances from the veterans, in particular Gloria Sevilla and Eddie Garcia.
Moviegoers will also enjoy the appearance of other seasoned talents such as as Roi Vinzon, who plays the brute Alias Tekla, and Dexter Doria as the effervescent, dubious fortuneteller.
Boy Golden is a well thought out production backed by commendable cinematography and groovy musical scoring.
What would be worth reiterating are the action scenes, significantly the sleek opening scene that introduces Arturo as a kind of notorious hero who makes spiteful and humorous remarks while slaying his opponents one by one with his gunning skills.
Unforgettable too are Marla D.’s murder of the fat, pseudo-lawyer whose perverted deed prompts her to break his neck and eventually kill him. The scene likewise introduces its heroine as not the run of the mill damsel in distress. Later, when Marla D. fights a Chinese maid in a long, epic fight scene in Boy Bungal’s (Dick Israel) lair, KC’s casting in Boy Golden is justified.
Of course, when the all the gangsters get together in the second to the last part of the film, the climax—because Boy Golden just has to culminate in Arturo’s assassination with him wearing a gold suit—the audience is granted a satisfying, convincing sequence that indulges them with ghastly, poignant, brutal images.
While without its flaws (primarily, the disturbing editing of ER’s face), Boy Golden still succeeds for its total entertainment value that did not comprise the quality of its production and story.
Boy Golden: Shoot to Kill is graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board.
(To learn more about this MMFF 2013 entry, CLICK HERE)
Ed's Note: The "PEP Review" section carries the views of individual reviewers, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial staff.