Filipino film 'Graceland' earns praises in US

by Yong Chavez, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at Apr 29 2013 04:21 PM | Updated as of Apr 30 2013 11:09 PM

LOS ANGELES - In Filipino movies, corruption and poverty are not unusual themes.

But the team behind the movie "Graceland," now showing in select theaters in America, managed to make a gripping abduction thriller out of those familiar themes, earning positive reviews from those US film critics.

According to the Los Angeles Times, "Graceland" was a tighter, more realistic version of the Liam Neeson blockbuster film "Taken."

The film's writer-director is Ron Morales, who was born in the US but remains close to his Filipino roots.

Though he has made a Hollywood film starring Oscar winner Melissa Leo, Morales worked for 5 years to get this Filipino story on the big screen.

"A very human story about a man who wants to do everything to save his family," Morales said.

The film's star, Arnold Reyes, is also getting Hollywood's attention for his portrayal of Marlon Villar, a desperate father and husband.

"This is great. What's happening to me is great. Right now, I'm on the streets of Hollywood. This is overwhelming to me," Reyes said.

The actor dedicated his performance to his mother, who passed away just before seeing her son's biggest break.

"Kapareho nung asawa ni Marlon Villar sa 'Graceland,' meron syang kidney problem. I want to make my mother proud kahit wala na sya dito. Ganun pa rin ang misyon ko sa buhay. Every film na ginagawa ko is not complete without her watching the premiere. Lagi kong naaalala, sumisilip ako sa gilid ng stage, inaalam ko kung saan sya nakaupo. Lagi nyang sinasabi, 'what a great performance, sana marami pa," Reyes said.

Now that the film is a success in America, its makers are hoping it will be shown in the Philippines.