In "Kristo", Director Ben G. Yalung was able to capture the essence of the Gospel of John, mixed in with Filipino Holy Week traditions, in this reenactment of the life and death of Jesus Christ. This movie was produced by the Oasis of Love community.
"Kristo" starred Mat Ranillo III as Jesus Christ. The rest of the cast were local stars and character actors galore. Among the apostles, we recognized Ruel Vernal as Peter, Patrick de la Rosa as Thomas, Michael Locsin as John. Of course, Rez Cortez played Judas Iscariot, who else? Edgar Mande and Jorge Estregan were also there. Among the Sanhedrin, Tony Mabesa was Caiaphas, Dante Rivero was Nicodemus. Junix Inocian and Renato del Prado were also there. Romeo Rivera was Pontius Pilate with Maila Gumila as his wife. Paquito Diaz was Herod with Bomber Moran overacting as his guard. Ricky Davao was Barrabas, though he was not given a close-up.
During the Way of the Cross, we would see Rudy Fernandez as Simon of Cyrene, Lorna Tolentino as Veronica, Christopher de Leon as the good thief Dimas, and Gardo Versoza as the other thief Hestas. Among the centurions, we see Arnel Ignacio as the one who won Jesus' robe, Gino Antonio as the one who taunted Jesus when he was thirsty, and Dan Alvaro as the one who stabbed Jesus with the spear.
The three Marys at the foot of the Cross were played by Amy Austria (as Mary Magdalene), Nadia Veloso (as Mary, sister of Lazarus) and an unknown actress as the Virgin Mary. I had to wait for the end credits to see that Mother Mary was played by a certain Charmaine Rivera, whom I really did not know.
I do not know if Mel Gibson had seen this film, but the violence of the scourging scenes in "Kristo" were also very graphic. The very-bloodied and deformed appearance of Jesus on the cross is also very similar in the two films. "Kristo" also preceded "Passion of the Christ" in having a woman as the Devil, who was portrayed by Rachel Lobangco.
As a whole it was not bad at all, despite the technical limitations and the hammy acting of the supporting cast. Mat Ranillo III played Jesus Christ effectively with requisite look, dignity and compassion. The walls of Intramuros became Jerusalem. The Manila Post Office Building was transformed into the Praetorium of the Sanhedrin. The costumes of the townspeople were Muslim-inspired. Very imaginative and interesting effort to Filipinize the context. Overall, the pace and language was engaging enough for us to watch the film to its conclusion.
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