Manila Kingpin: The Untold Story of Asiong Salonga

Verdict: Value for Money

Pinoy Rebyu Score: 3.07 (22 ratings)

Genre: Drama

Director: Tikoy Aguiluz

Writers: Roy Iglesias, Rey Ventura

Cast: Jeorge Estregan, Philip Salvador, Carla Abellana, John Regala, Baron Geisler, Yul Servo, Dennis Padilla, Ketchup Eusebio, Ping Medina, Gerald Ejercito, Amay Bisaya, Archi Adamos, Soliman Cruz, Ronnie Lazaro, Joko Diaz, Jaycee Parker, Paloma, Valerie Concepcion, Roi Vinzon, Jay Manalo, Dante Rivero, Robert Arevalo, Perla Bautista, Marissa Sanchez, Roldan Aquino, Jerico Ejercito

Synopsis: In the slums of Tondo, one man would rise in a wave of violence as the kingpin of crime. That man, Asiong Salonga, would become public enemy number one, earning the wrath of both the lawful and the lawless. (From Click the City)



4.0          Ihcahieh

“Tikoy Aguiluz is really  making a statement here with how he shot those scenes. In short, kinareer niya ‘to. No wonder he is pissed off.” (Read full review)

3.5          Oggs Cruz (Twitch)

“As it is, the spare and unimaginative story seems more perfunctory to the visual spectacle and the shameless grandstanding. It is definitely quite a shame because its present form shows shades of glory, traces of the film Aguiluz had in mind — stylish but somber, brutal but human, and entertaining but artful.” (Read full review)

3.5          Philbert Dy (Click the City)

Manila Kingpin is heavily flawed, but it’s at least flawed in an interesting way. The film had a lot of story to tell, and it ends up breezing through many of the details of its subject’s life. It only has the bullet points, and in the end, the film does little to expand on the legend of Asiong Salonga.” (Read full review)

3.5          Nicol Latayan (Back to the Frying Pan)

“The art direction is spot on, and it really gives you the 50s feeling of it. Costumes and make up were slick, and choreography of fight scenes was well executed. I have some reservations with the lead star (he’s too old to play a 25-28 year old character, and no amount of make up can conceal that), but I understand that this is his passion project, so I won’ focus on that.” (Read full review)

3.0          Jessica Zafra (InterAksyon)

“Given the opportunities for overacting in this movie, the performances are surprisingly subdued. Unfortunately the characters are all two-dimensional. We do not know what motivates them. We do not know why Asiong turned to crime in the first place.” (Read full review)

3.0          Mario Bautista (Showbiz Portal)

“It’s apparent that the priority is to come up with a slambang action gangster flick, not an in-depth character study… Asiong has God-fearing parents (Robert Arevalo and Perla Bautista) and an older brother who’s a cop (Phillip Salvador), but how and why he went astray, we aren’t even given a clue.” (Read full review)

3.0          Nestor Torre (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

“For all of its artifice and myopic moral compass, it still has a visual energy that’s more arresting than many of the play-safe, formula flicks showcased in the MMFF. Just don’t expect it to hit the heights of authentic significance and substance.” (Read full review)

3.0          Rowena Joy A. Sanchez (Manila Bulletin)

“The remake would’ve been an excellent opportunity to delve deeper into Asiong’s character, his real aspirations and intentions behind going after criminal gangs and secretly donating robbed riches to his ‘kababayans’ in Tondo. However, it felt that the action was given more priority than the backbone that could’ve further solidified the entire film.” (Read full review)

3.0          Macky Macarayan (Death of Traditional Cinema)

“There is a palpable amount of style in cinematography and production design; the shootout in the rain executed in slow-mo a la John Woo is impressive, if it did not rip off Wong Kar Wai’s The Grandmasters.” (Read full review)

 2.5          Jansen Musico (Pelikula Tumblr)

“Hints of Quentin Tarantino, Danny Boyle, Wong Kar Wai, and, more blatantly, John Woo might jolt the nerves of discerning moviegoers. Fleeting smoke silhouettes, slow motion gunfire, and sliding on the floor on one’s knees may look spectacular in moderation, but too much of these make scenes cartoony.” (Read full review)

2.0          Rolando Tolentino (Pinoy Weekly)

“Ang elaborasyon ng Robin Hood na buhay, lalo na sa unang bahagi ng pelikula, ay “walang puso” at nakakakuha lang ng atensyon dahil sa black-and-white na kalidad ng pelikula at ilang piling eksena, tulad ng shoot out na gamit ang kalesa.” (Read full review)

2.0          Cathy Peña (Make Me Blush)

Manila Kingpin is all gloss and cinematic posturing. The story is pretty trite and uninsightful. It offers a plot that might as well be another henchman’s story. There’s nothing distinct about its narrative. More importantly, it forgot to tell the story behind what we already know: Which family reared him? What made him who he became? We needed to understand the genesis of a mobster – but this wasn’t on the cinematic plate.” (Read full review)

2.0          Ria Limjap (

“There are flashes of brilliance buried underneath the pile clichés of the Pinoy action-melodrama in this version of Asiong.  The latest reincarnation—shot in black and white, production designed to the hilt, and featuring an original song by Ely Buendia—could have been really cool, only it isn’t.” (Read full review)

2.0          Carl Papa (Whatever, Carl)

“My biggest dilemma while watching the movie was that the sequences never quite add up to create a bigger picture.  Some sequences are either slow or way fast.  And some parts are just disjointed.” (Read full review)

1.5          Katrina Stuart Santiago (GMA News)

“While I admit that it looked beautiful, and the fight scenes were enjoyable, there is no getting lost in this film at all—something that every action flick lives off of, even more so a period action film. But there is no suspension of belief in this film, no getting lost in the cinematography and sets, no matter how well done these were, too.” (Read full review)


4.5          Manuel Pangaruy (Taga-ilog Special)

“Ang guwapo n’ung pelikula. Hindi ko masabi na na-enjoy ko s’ya sa paraang ini-enjoy ko ang isang Pinoy action movie noon. Dati, parang ginagawa ang action movie dahil may demand sa kita. Ito, may demand din sa aspetong baka kailangan na nating ibalik ang mga action movie. May demand sa kawalan at paghahanap. Isa itong tribute. Given na na maganda ang cinematography. Halata naman talaga ‘yung effort pero wala namang vision na magpaka-realistic o academic ‘yung pelikula (wala s’yang details masyado ng date, etc.) In fact, parang popcorn film pa rin ang peg n’ya. I can’t comment sa editing kasi malay ko naman d’un pero kahit hindi orig na version, mahusay ang pagkakadirek nito. Medyo na-appreciate ko si ER dito. Mas gusto ko s’yang Best Actor, sa totoo lang. Pero hands down, si John Regala talaga ang Best Supporting Actor (pwede rin si Ipe dito).”

4.0          Json Javier (Cinephiles)

“It’s one big hot mess and I love it. You can actually see glimpses of brilliance from this mutilated product. Estregan is miscast in the lead but everyone else is perfect (it has the best ensemble cast in this year’s festival). I hope the Director’s Cut will still see the light of day.”

4.0          Carlo Cielo (Cinephiles)

“Actually natripan ko yung ‘cut down’, ‘back to basics’ approach ng pelikula. Yung fact ng pagiging incidental nung asawa’t magulang sa trajectory ng karakter at sa buong takbo nung action. Mahalagang break ito sa nakagawiang tradisyon, sadya man o hindi. Madalas, kelangan muna magpaalam nung bida sa a.) magulang, b.) asawa, c.) pamilya, d.) simbahan, e.) gobyerno, at kamakailan, f.) sa mga hipster na burgis, bago makapangahas. Tsaka lang sila makakapag-‘action star’. At sa puntong iyon, wala nang sipa ang mga bagay-bagay, kasi walang credibilidad. Sobrang ipinasailalim ang mga action aspects sa pagyuko sa nanunungkulan, hindi na sila nagmukhang ‘action movie’. Lalo’t hindi sa paraang naiintindihan ng sandaigdig.”

4.0          Arsenio Tan Liao (Cinephiles)

“Tikoy’s use of black and white cinematography is close to perfect. Ensemble acting is also good. Problem lies in editing though. Loved the use of ‘Mad World’ in the movie. It could have been better if real footages of Asiong Salonga were used in the end credits since this is a biopic. However, the movie’s poignancy does not quite at all stay with the viewers.”

 4.0          Chuck Pablito (Cinephiles)

“I like the cinematography. Reminded me of City of God. The use of ‘Mad World’ was a pleasant surprise I thought of The Walking Dead promo. Overall the movie is like a love letter to that forgotten genre.”

3.0          Nico Quejano (Cinephiles)

“Hated George Estregan here. Parang hindi bagay. Nawalan ng charisma si Asiong Salonga. And i have a weird feeling nag-a-adlib si ER dito. Ang daming lines (unfortunately, not only ER’s) na parang kung magsalita sila parang wala sa 1940’s, probably it’s not the writing, since John Regala, Ketchup and Ping speak very old Tagalog. ER’s break down scene was hilarious… that turned awkward when it went longer than it should. The rain scene was amazing, pero parang out of place. Love the ‘Mad World’ scene, in fact, one of the the few scenes i really loved. (Kalesa chase scene is another.)”

2.0          Skilty Labastilla (YCC Film Desk)

“All gloss, no emotional core. By stripping Salonga of his personal and social historical context and putting premium on John Woo-style bullet ballet, all the film does is glorify violence.”

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