Review: Kid Kulafu

KID KULAFU: Shadowboxing the drama
By Redundante Mendoza
Image source: lagunabeachbikini.com

Manny Pacquiao is the Nora Aunor of Sports, all encompassing. Just like Nora, he is a modern day Cinderella and a Superstar. His life, his character, his traits, and his nuances are all publicly recorded, memorized. Just like Aunor’s, his life and triumph can’t be trivialized anymore, no matter how small a portion one highlights from them. They can’t be padded by artificial lights, special effects, and publicity machineries. When a public figure is already elevated to a certain level of being an icon, any effort demands focus, firmness, and sensitivity. Otherwise, everything is just merely an attempt to gloss over an already given sheen. This is exactly how I see the elaborately designed dream sequence a few minutes to the film's ending – the audience gets a sweeping run-through why the hero-fighter is motivated to be a champion. As any real character whose life is fit for a storybook, we need not be bombarded by visual effects and sound designs to give us a review. Otherwise, one can’t help but get a feel of watching an expensively produced music video or a highly polished television commercial. It is like advertising and reselling a product that has long proven its marketability.

Even with seemingly uneven editing, perhaps due to the demands and requirements of a nationwide commercial distribution, the material structure of the film evokes thorough and passionate storytelling. Being a film worker myself, I can only understand and fully empathize with what mostly happened during production; as a well-informed audience member – the film presents unsatisfactory conclusion, overall. There are some dramatic punches that do not appear to be solid and some narrative hooks that do not connect neatly.

I’m pretty sure that I am hitting a jackpot by saying that the original screenplay attempted to build up the supposedly intense relationship between Pacquiao and his bestfriend Eugene quite different from what actually came out on screen. Because, as far as the direction goes, the dynamics between Kid Kulafu and his other teammate - Abner Cordero felt more wanting to be developed and seemed more interesting. In the end, both didn’t play out well and the result seemed forced. Either the newbie who portrayed Abner is more skilled, or the contract actor who portrayed Eugene badly needed a mainstream push.

Most people who have seen the film are astonished by the moving performance of Buboy Villar as the young Pacquiao. Even veteran thespians are impressed, with few reservations for his jagged accent. Have these people also seen him play a fictional prize fighter in the little-known yet award-winning Children Show (Cabrido, Cinemalaya 2014)? Better film, better performance – I should say. It is not fair to make a comparison between a biopic and a fictional film, but the sterling argument is that both films are equally challenging and difficult to produce even if their budget are decidedly night and day.

At the end of the day, no matter how one strives for realism, creativity is unavoidably deducted by the prevailing dictates of commercialism while the integrity of filmic vision can only be achieved without compromise. 

Kid Kulafu is written by Froilan Medina and directed by Paul Soriano. Showing TODAY, April 15, 2015.

Rating 2.5/5

star cinema 4088895679648358048

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  1. Didn't watch it yet but my friends said it is really inspiring!



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