MMFF 2014 REVIEW: ER Ejercito-Sam Pinto starrer, Muslim Magnum .357, offers a slick and well polished look

(L-R) Gwen Zamora, ER Ejercito and Sam Pinto star in Muslim Magnum .357, an homage to the late Fernando Poe Jr.'s original action flick.



Six men surround him yet Lt. Jamal Rasul (Jeorge E.R. Estregan aka ER Ejercito) was able to defeat them all in a heartbeat.

The lead star of Magnum Muslim .357 shoots accurately from left to right. He takes aim fires off round after round until each of them fall. Unknown to him, Nimr (John Hall) his scar-faced nemesis is just around the corner. Nimr tries to stab him; Jamal moves out of the way and shoots but is out of bullets. He holsters it and pulls out a shining, curved, jagged blade that has put fear into the hearts of Muslim enemies: the Kris.

Magnum Muslim .357 is only one of two action films in the 40th Metro Manila Film Festival.

The other one is Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo starring Robin Padilla. IF violence, firepower and action sequences are the basis this definitely delivers. Fight scenes aren’t just shootouts as the title suggests.

There are knife and sword fights, bareknuckle combats and even the use of the Filipino martial art arnis. The fight choreography has seen a very stark improvement over other local action flicks. Getting Hong Kong choreographer Seng Ka Wee, Erick Torrente (visual effects) and Boy Roque for the stunts was well worth it.

Lead actor and producer, Jeorge E.R. Estregan said Muslim Magnum .357 is homage to the original version that starred Fernando Poe Jr. The film also is a celebration of the King of Pinoy Cinema’s 10th death anniversary who passed away in 2004.

Action sequences here are more realistic than the original. The bad guy doesn’t pause to be punched a dozen or so times in the body then waits for the head punch. And the lead actor doesn’t have an endless supply of bullets flying out of his magnum.

When asked how this version was different Estregan mentioned the use of gadgets and technology that wasn’t available during FPJ’s time. Cellphone/recording device/shortwave radio incorporated in one unit was used to gather evidence against a criminal mastermind.

The cast for Muslim Magnum .357 should be commended as well. FHM’s sexiest Sam Pinto plays elementary school teacher Ameerah Naureen. She is very much the screen siren in spite of being covered in conservative Muslim attire. Only her face is visible and she manages to capture Jamal’s heart. Gwen Zamora was previously cast in the MMFF 2012 entry Si Agimat, Si Enteng at Si AKO with Bossing Vic Sotto. This time in MM .357, she plays Ameerah’s sister Yasmeen.

John Regala who is a famous character actor/bad guy easily had the best performance in this movie. He plays Rasheed Abdul Salam the clan patriarch and father to Ameerah. Muslim audiences were very much affected and appreciative of his dramatic scenes. His accent although heavy seems more accurate than Estregan’s. They loved his mastery of the Maranao dialect. This was when he spoke with rival clan head Faruq Ghazi played by Efren Reyes Jr.

Roi Vinzon is the despicable General who gives Jamal a hard time. Watch out for the appearance of Rey Langit as deep penetration agent and veteran actors Lou Veloso and Leo Martinez. Jericho Estregan plays the young Sgt Ibañez who helps Jamal when the going gets tough. Jericho is also an upcoming lead actor in Boy Tumbling set for release in 2015.

Technically nearly every aspect has a slick and well polished touch. There were a lot of complex camera work and angles and generous use of wide-angle lenses by cinematographer Francis Ricardo Buhay III. The CCTV look was employed, with lots of movement during hand-to-hand action sequences that were well executed. Director Jun Posadas was able to use this along with editing to create an engaging film that may win a couple of technical awards.

If there’s one weakness to the film it’s the storyline. You don’t expect a suspenseful thriller or detective type story from an action film. The simplicity though may be the key for it attracting more audiences.

Apart from the action driven genre, another plus factor for Muslim Magnum .357 is its soundtrack. "Kapayapaan" was performed by Khomeini Bansuan who collaborated with Rivermaya, the arranger of the song. Rivermaya has long been a fixture in the Pinoy rock scene. But it’s the connection of Bansuan with Muslim communities that may help attract even more audiences to the film.

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MM .357 is one of the 8 official entries to the 2014 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF).

(To learn more about this MMFF 2014 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.



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