AMIGO, the 17th feature film from Academy Award-nominated writer-director John Sayles, stars legendary Filipino actor Joel Torre as Rafael, a village mayor caught in the murderous crossfire of the Philippine-American War. When U.S. troops occupy his village, Rafael comes under pressure from a tough-as-nails officer (Chris Cooper) to help the Americans in their hunt for Filipino guerilla fighters. But Rafael's brother (Ronnie Lazaro) is the head of the local guerillas, and considers anyone who cooperates with the Americans to be a traitor. Rafael quickly finds himself forced to make the impossible, potentially deadly decisions faced by ordinary civilians in an occupied country. A powerful drama of friendship, betrayal, romance and heartbreaking violence, AMIGO is a page torn from the untold history of the Philippines, and a mirror of today's unresolvable conflicts.Written by
At the beginning of the last century, the United States declared war on Spain. They pledged to free the island of Cuba, ninety miles to their south, from colonial rule. It was thus that the American troops came to yet another Spanish colony, half a world away. They decided to stay.
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Without a doubt, a movie about this subject needed to be made. The parallels with America's wars with Vietnam and Iraq are endless, and the Philippines' history as the strategic spoils for foreign occupiers needs to be told. This movie did an okay job of depicting the arrogance of imperialism as well as the misery of those who want peace. However, I think the time limitation of a feature length movie hampers any real character development. The Americans' are haughty and racist caricatures, and the conflicts within the Filipino families are not as palpable as they should be. Also, important strategic events of the war are merely alluded to off-screen.
Throughout the whole movie, I couldn't help but feel the story would have been more suited to a TV-miniseries format. Such a format would have allowed ample time for character development and action scenes.
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