REVIEW: PENDUKO - A New Pedro Emerges!

Komiks makes a comeback for Metro Manila Film Festival 2023 with the film PENDUKO starring Matteo Guidicelli as the iconic character Pedro Penduko. This film was produced by Sari Sari Network Films, Studio Viva, Epik Studios, and Ninuno Media and was written and directed by Jason Paul Laxamana.

Based on the Filipino comic character made by National Artist Francisco V. Coching which appeared in Liwayway magazine in 1954. And there has been several adaptations of the superhero both in film and television and has been played by several actors such as Efren Reyes Sr., Ramon Zamora, Janno Gibbs, and the most recent is by Matt Evans.

The Penduko series is known for its adventure and action which involves Filipino mythological creatures and folklore that Pedro uses to fight. Though his origin story has changed throughout the years, there are some things that remained constant with the recent incarnations of the character, a very optimistic, quick-witted, and quite stubborn guy which gets into a lot of trouble yet finds ways to solve them.

For this film, Jason Paul Laxamana shares that he does like to make action-adventure films which is very different from the usual romance genre which some are blockbusters. This gives him a lot of freedom and creativity in making the movie and a possible new komiks universe in the works.

For this version, we find Pedro as gifted mangagauay (healer) who uses his powers for indiscriminately usually for his own benefit. However, he is recruited into the organization called "Hating Gabi" to further hone his skills and use them for commercial services. However, many things are revealed that will put him into a dilemma of his morals and skills.

Many would still compare Matteo's Penduko with Janno Gibbs and Matt Evans which is still fresh with today's audience, yet the story adjusts to today's time yet retain some of the common traits and personality. Matteo does an impressive job in embracing the character.  Being also trained in the military and Filipino martial arts levels up the character to do more intense action.     

Penduko has potential to set up the new Pendukoverse, though it should tone down with all the elements it wants to put in. The mythological elements are very interesting and should be explored more for future films. And being based on a komiks character, I felt optimistic with the growth of other future characters having their own film and series such as the revival of Darna. It's also a celebration of the rich culture and history we can incorporate with many of our series and films. 

Penduko also stars John Arcilla, Kylie Verzosa, Albert Martinez, Penduko, Pedro Penduko, Candy Pangilinan, Andrea del Rosario, Arron Villaflor, and Phoebe Walker. 

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