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José Rizal (1998)

Jose Rizal's life and works are recounted through a series of non-linear flashbacks which reflect on various aspects of his life - as writer, propagandist, lover, friend, brother, doctor, and the man that inspired a revolution.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
44 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ibarra / Simoun
Teodora Alonso
Andres Bonifacio
Monique Wilson ...
Maria Clara
Chin Chin Gutierrez ...
Josephine Bracken
Leonor Rivera
Paciano Mercado
Peque Gallaga ...
Archbishop Bernardo Nozaleda, OP
Bon Vibar ...
Alexis Santaren ...
Chiqui Xerxes-Burgos ...
Father Villaclara (as Chiqui Xeres Burgos)


Jose Rizal's life and works are recounted through a series of non-linear flashbacks which reflect on various aspects of his life - as writer, propagandist, lover, friend, brother, doctor, and the man that inspired a revolution.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


What matters death if one dies for what one loves, for native land and cherished ones?


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Parents Guide:




Release Date:

25 July 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Jose Rizal  »

Box Office


PHP 80,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


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Did You Know?


Cesar Montano agreed to scale down his talent fee (reported to be 5 million pesos per movie). He also cancelled everything else on his schedule to concentrate on training for his role. His tutorials involved languages (Rizal spoke Spanish, French, German and Latin), fencing, painting, drawing, sculpture, and other skills that the national hero excelled in. See more »


José Rizal: Ikinulong nila, pinatay nila, hinukay sa libingan, itinapon; ganyan ang ginawa ng iyong mga kababayan sa karangalan at kasaysayan ng aking mga kalahi!
Luis Taviel de Andrade: Hindi naman siguro ganoon kasama ang lahat Senor Rizal...
José Rizal: Ilang taon ka na ba rito sa Pilipinas Taviel?
Luis Taviel de Andrade: Bakit?
José Rizal: Pareho ba tayo ng nakikita? O meron kang ayaw makita?
See more »


Awit ni Maria Clara
Performed by Monique Wilson
Music Nonong Buencamino
See more »

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User Reviews

Dissenting Voice
19 June 2006 | by (Philippines) – See all my reviews

When I came back from America in 1998 the first thing I did was run to the video store and see if they came out with Abaya's 'Jose Rizal'. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that it hadn't been released yet. I was anxiously looking forward to seeing this picture.

This was a showpiece production from the beginning and I was looking forward to what Marilou Diaz-Abaya would do with it. Her trilogy from the 70's "Moral", "Karnal" and "Brutal" are still hallmarks of the Golden Age of Philippine cinema. I had been rather disappointed when I heard that Mike De Leon, one of the great visionary directors of the country was replaced by Abaya - his vision seemed pretty daring as well and he cast one of the luminaries of Philippine cinema - Aga Mulach - as his Rizal. While I positively loath Aga for being for the most part a pretty face who can barely act I felt that with de Leon he might actually come up with something real for a change. The casting of Cesar Montano at the time seemed like casting Steven Segal as George Washington.

Well it finally came out that year - and I was pleasantly surprised yet at the same time incredibly disappointed.

The pleasant surprise was from Cesar Montano. His utter dedication to the role, his sheer screen presence brought the character we only read about in history books to vivid life. Paired with an incredible Jaime Fabregas as Rizal's defense attorney, Lt.Taviel de Andrade, they made the story of Rizal's life easily understandable and entertaining. The chemistry was incredible and utterly believable.

Not so with many of the other characters who seemed to be playing well worn stereotypes of characters they played a thousand times before on stage and screen. Apparently, having played these characters or so many times before, they just automatically started playing the character rather than being the character. I mean how many times can Tony Mabesa and Subas Herrero be the arrogant Spaniard or Gloria Diaz be the long-suffering bespectacled mother? The script was a singularly uninspired rip off of other hero biopics particularly toward the end which is clearly stolen from Braveheart and consistently sounds like a grade school textbook. They took the usual Rizal legends and stories yet did not really offer much context for what was happening - the conflict between Liberals and Conservatives in Spain that was spilling over into the colonies, the growing resentment and nationalism of the natives of Cuba and the Philippines, the Bohemian revolution in art and culture, Victorian morality. It amazed me how DEAD the history was, particularly when you have the noted historian Fr. Ambeth Ocampo writing choice bits of his (and other heroes) personal history that could have added more humanity to the story.

The script, partially in Spanish, partially in Filipino, was long, long, long and, particularly when Rizal delivers the honorary speech to the expatriate Filipinos in Madrid, LOOOOONGGG!! My goodness did we really have to hear that long speech? Haven't these people heard of editing? The producers and artists who worked on this absolutely justify the other Rizal pic that Mike De Leon (forced out because of creative differences) did. We create historical characters in our own image. These people were so desperate to have a heroic, non-controversial Rizal that they took the 'party line history' and little else. The result was bland, bland, bland.

Take note that I am writing this from the point of view of someone who's studied Rizal since youth and who's tried to actually understand him beyond what's written in classroom textbooks.

Another bone I have to pick is with Filipinos is they are so darn proud that they were using the CGI effects that brought Titanic to stunning life - WHO CARES! You have enough money you can blow up the world. Visuals are important but they have to be complimented by a story that does justice to the subject matter.

The fight scenes are not just unhistorical but they are STUPID. Any idiot reading Philippine history will know that the Manila uprising of Andres Bonifacio (Versosa) was roundly defeated after the debacle of Pinaglabanan. The retreating Katipunero rebels were shot down by Spanish snipers as they fled. Some of Bonifacio's lieutenants were captured and put in front of the firing squad. Instead we are shown this hokey scene of a bumbling Spanish column being ambushed by Filipinos, men and women who leap on to their foes and beat them with their fists. The scene would have looked like some degenerate S&M costumed foreplay if it wasn't so comical.

Ultimately the film tells you the bare bones story of Rizal - and a bit of Bonifacio - as the bland history text books tell it. They make no effort to go beyond their source material to discover the zeitgeist that animated this age and what they do is so hideously boring that it's only the brilliance of Montano and Fabregas' acting that saves it from becoming a hokey Filipino biopic in the grand tradition of other Filipino biopics - sensationalized and trivial without any real substance.


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