Review: Henry Luna (Philippines, 2015)

It's always criminal to watch a movie in which America is a bad guy. There are not many things to do, perhaps because most of the nations that make America happy, need to worry about things other than the war on Hollywood. Although not from anywhere like North Korea, 2015 Philippines blockbuster Henriel Luna is one of those films that depicts Americans as enemies.

Although the Philippines is now an allied ally of the United States, it was also America's first affair in the colonies. Spanish – After losing the US war, Spain extradited its Philippine colony to the United States in Paris. However, occupying the Philippines was much more complicated than signing a paper. The independence movement had already begun in the Philippines and, taking advantage of Spain's weakness and early recognized American support, it succeeded in establishing a republic on most of the island before the Treaty of Paris. As it became clear that the Americans were going to become the owners of the new colonial, not the free. Then the person leading the conflict was General Antonio Luna, a former scientific researcher who quickly became the head of the republican army.

However, there are scenes such as when US troops kill women and children during the voiceover of John O'Sullivan's famous article on "Declaration of Destiny," but the United States is not the main antagonist of the film. Instead, it focuses on the more internalized conflicts: Filipino vs. Filipino, and living in Luna's mind. This choice has elevated the story from a simple patriotic gorefest (though there is still plenty of patriotism and gore) to something more complex.

Yes, the movie made General Luna a lion, but not to the extreme, to the extreme, to the extent that he did something like the Liberator to Simon Bolivar. The film shows that Luna is in deep peril – one who is angry, overly aggressive, and infected with deadly scars. They do not give any heartfelt speeches, nor exhortations to the "we rejoice, we are brethren." Instead, he assembles troops with the arrest of his code of conduct and threats of "Article One". "Anyone who disobeys the General's orders will be hanged immediately, without trial."

Luna's most harmful physical enemies are not her American counterparts. There are deserts that run before his eyes. He is a politician who wants to talk to Americans. Such people are traitors. He can neither stomach nor compromise with them. On one occasion he even flies in a fury, promising that he has defended the nation even if it means going against the president, Emilio Aguinaldo. It is almost as if Luna's patriotism has blinded her to the realities of human nature – greed, self-preservation, fear. Although we do see some moments of clarity. In a quiet moment with a journalist, Luna swiftly resigned to her unconsciousness of the world – "It's only the Philippines".

Such a balance makes Henriel Luna a brave film. Like his name, it is fearless to speak his mind. It goes through the pantheon of Filipino revolutionaries – named after people's boulevards and warplanes today – and they put their flaws on display. The Revolution is not a dinner party, and Henry Luna makes that clear.

Honor Luna – Filipino dialogue and English dialogue. Directed by Gerald Tarog. First released on September 2015. Running time is 1 hour 58 minutes. Starring John Arcilla, Epi Quezon, Paulo Illinois, and Arnon Villafler.

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