Filipino Batman: Alyas Batman en Robin (1991, dir. Tony Y. Reyes)


A Filipino Batman. Of course! There’s Turkish Supermen. There’s an Indonesian Lady Terminator. There’s Brazilian Star Wars. There’s a Mexican Batwoman. There’s a dancing Indian Superman and Spiderwoman. So why not a Filipino Batman? Actually, this is one of three that I know about. There is another one with the same title as this film from 1965, which I don’t have, and a movie called James Batman from 1966 that I do have. I’ll review that one later.

Let’s talk about this particular Filipino Batman. The title literally translates to Alias Batman and Robin, which is actually a very appropriate title. While the movie does have Batman, Robin, Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, and numerous other superheroes that show up at the end, they are all regular people who take up the roles rather than actually being the real characters.

The movie of course opens with the Batman TV Show theme song playing. However, it’s like almost all the lifted songs in this movie. It’s not the exact song. It’s not like if you watch the Taiwanese film King Of Snake (1984). In that film you will hear the main theme from The Terminator (1984) and music from Once Upon A Time In The West (1968) unaltered. In this movie, the songs will be tweaked or sampled, and have new lyrics. There is one exception, but we’ll get to that.

I’m gong to just cut through the very beginning of this movie cause the film sure does, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense. The movie opens up and we meet our future Batman (Joey de Leon) and Robin (Keempee de Leon).


As far as I can tell they are supposed to be high school or college students. The only person they are really clear about is the guy who becomes the Penguin. Now we meet our future Joker (Rene Requiestas) reading about the character.


I’m going to say it here. He has a great maniacal laugh. It never feels like there’s a psycho or a really bad guy behind it like you see in The Dark Knight (2008) or Batman (1989). Nevertheless, it still is pretty great, and he does it a lot. He also does great crazy eyes.


There are some girls here, some rivalry, and some fighting. None of it really matters. Trust me. Even the film will tell you later how meaningless these opening scenes are to the movie. The next thing you know Joker’s uncle gets out of jail and this happens.





There you go! Now we have Joker and Penguin (Panchito). They immediately go to rob the Treasury Office, but first!


The director of this movie made other films like this such as Bobo Cop (1988), Goosebuster (1991), and his own line of Tarzan films. I seriously doubt that sticker having the year Tim Burton’s Batman came out is just a coincidence.

Anyways, they rob the treasury and gloat about it.


They also talk about hiring some goons.

After our future Batman and Robin read about the robbery, we get Kabuki Joker.


Now the Joker and Penguin start hitting more places including apparently Gotham Bank.


I always suspected Gotham was really Manila. Now they’ve gone too far!!! The brothers decide to become Batman and Robin.


Well, to be fair. The brother who will be Batman actually wants to be Starzan. Starzan is this movie’s director’s Tarzan knockoff. Do I have to tell you? The actor who plays the brother is the actor who plays Starzan. However, future Robin tells him he can’t do that because it will turn “this movie into shit”.

Meanwhile, we need Catwoman (Almira Muhlach). So here she is with her posse.


After quoting the title of Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t Worry Be Happy, they are off to rob the Smith & Wesson Dollar Exchange! Now we get our first musical number.


My original sentences here were going to be that I couldn’t figure out where the song is from, but a friend came through. The song they use is Bird Dog by The Everly Brothers.

While I may have had trouble with that song, I sure as hell knew what the next one was! After Joker and Penguin rob a jewelry store, we get a montage of Batman and Robin becoming Batman and Robin.

“Do you still remember from your comic book. The series of the Dynamic Duo. The Caped Crusader and the Wonder Boy. They fight all the goons. Holy smoke, Batman and Robin. Oh my God, Batman and Robin. Praise the Lord, Batman and Robin. Shoot now, shoot. Batman and Robin. Let’s do Bruce Wayne now and Dick Grayson now. They are a part of me.”





In other words: “Let’s go surfin’ now. Everybody’s learning how. Come on a safari with me.” It’s Surfin’ Safari by The Beach Boys with lyrics about Batman and Robin.

It is glorious!!! I love the next one too!

Now the Joker and Penguin pull up to rob a place and that riff sure sounded familiar to me. It’s because it’s a riff from Oh, Pretty Woman. The lyrics are totally different.



But we have more important things now. To the Batcave!



Now the Joker and Penguin are going to strike again, but this time Batman and Robin are on the case. Oh, there’s also a little in-joke here about two Filipino production companies called VIVA and Regal. It’s not important.


To the Batmobile!!!





Oh, and some days you just can’t get rid of a coconut.


Now Batman goes where Batman always goes. No, not to the Bat Room. That’s later. He goes to the girl (Dawn Zulueta) he is interested in while dressed at Batman.


He asks her to meet him at the PPC. Apparently, PPC stands for Paco Park Cemetery. Why there? Your guess is as good as mine because before she can ask, he’s out the door.


Now we get reminded that Joker and Penguin aren’t the brightest of people. Well, the Joker that is cause they try to rob a Blood Bank.


Meanwhile, at the cemetery, Batman is resorting to jump scares.


While I was dishappiest, to quote Pat Buttram in Texans Never Cry (1951), with the jump scares in the awful Ex Machina (2015), I like the line “You son of a bat!” he gets from her after jumping out at her.

They go back to the Batcave now. She works for the Daily Planet…I mean the Daily Star. While he may be a son of a bat, he is a good host. He offers her something to drink.






Look! Batcaves are expensive and he needs to recoup costs somehow. She goes with Bat Tea. She asks if he can “take that off?” So of course this happens.


She meant his mask. He then asks her to take it off. She’s offended. Of course Batman meant her glasses, and he compliments her.


Given how this film is, I totally believe Batman told her she’s “even more beautiful with [her] eyes nude.” Now she asks the next logical question: “Can you tell me how Batman and Robin began?” Good question! I’d like to know that too. That’s when a Batarang flies across the screen…


because I’m pretty sure the film doesn’t understand how that happened either. Batman says they won’t stop till the super villains are stopped, and she asks to use the Bat Room. Scene!

Now we get a pointless part that amounts to Robin not being able to get his girl by telling her he’s Robin because it’s just as easy for anyone else to make a Robin uniform so this happens.


Well, it didn’t take them long because in the next scene Batman and Robin capture Penguin and Catwoman. Joker is still free.


Honestly, this is when the film begins to drag because it starts to try and take itself seriously. Batman and Robin try to get the girls they like. In fact, Robin shares a musical number with the girl (Vina Morales) he likes. This time around they didn’t bother to change anything. The song is Until Forever by Evan Rogers and D’Atra Hicks off the soundtrack to the movie Everybody’s All-American (1988).

Now we go over to Batman, and this is one movie that’s kind enough to tell you when a dream sequence is going to begin.


Unfortunately, it’s one of those dreams as realizes after waking up.


There’s another really immature moment next where we see Batman’s package through his underwear. I’m not showing that.

Now for no real reason at all, Penguin breaks out of prison and flies away in a helicopter. Batman decides he doesn’t want to play the part anymore. This leaves Robin to go fight crime alone.


Like I said before, this is where the film started to lose me. It will pick up at the very end, but till then the fun starts to stop.

Now Robin tries to protect himself against Joker and Penguin…


but he is beaten and Batman’s girl is taken prisoner while Robin is sent to the hospital. Batman must once again don the suit.



Now Batman goes to rescue his girl, and apparently does the same diving jump as Superman did in Kilink in Istanbul.



Kilink in Istanbul (1967, dir. Yilmaz Atadeniz)

Everything goes fine. The Joker and Penguin are now in jail. However, after crazy eyes…


they dig out the toilet and escape through the hole. Now you’d think the film would stop already, but no. There’s still a little left. Joker and Penguin decide to dress up as Batman and Robin to commit crimes, and blame it on them. The real Batman and Robin catch up with them and tell them as long as they return what they stole with interest, then they can go free.


After a stupid conversation between Batman, Robin, Joker, and the Penguin, Batman, out of the suit, goes to take out his girl, but look!


Now begins the final dance number and I think we all know this one. It’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Is Here To Stay by Danny & The Juniors, but of course we all remember it as performed by Sha-Na-Na in Grease (1978).

Everyone gets in on this number. Like mini-Spiderman here!


We know Batman and Superman are rivals, but for at least one dance they were able to put aside their differences.


If anyone knows who these two are, then tell me.


In the end, all that matters is that we’ll always be together!


My final thoughts on this movie are that I enjoyed it and would recommend it. The stuff near the end does take you out of the fun, and it really can’t pull of being serious, but that’s short-lived. It doesn’t ruin the movie. I know that some people cry foul whenever they see something like this and get outraged. I’m not one of them. The movie never felt like it was being mean spirited. It feels like a group of comedians with a love of 50’s and 60’s music got together and made a humorous Batman movie largely for fun. I always find it interesting to see such tightly controlled properties in new and interesting places. If that kind of thing bothers you, then don’t watch it. If it doesn’t, then check it out.

Fast & Furious: Bruce Lee in ENTER THE DRAGON (Warner Brothers 1973)

cracked rear viewer


Haai-ya! The Seventies was the era of kung-fu cinema, and nobody did ’em better than the great Bruce Lee. Probably the biggest martial arts star ever, Lee came to prominence in the USA as Kato in the 60’s series THE GREEN HORNET. He acted and trained Hollywood stars in the art of kung fu, including James Coburn and Steve McQueen. When the kung fu craze hit the screens, Lee’s Hong Kong films THE BIG BOSS and FISTS OF FURY were released here to packed houses. ENTER THE DRAGON was Lee’s first American starring film, and unfortunately his last due to his untimely death shortly after the films’ release.


The plot’s pretty simple: Shaolin martial arts master Lee is sent to thwart the evil Han, a Shaolin gone rogue, involved with the drug and white slavery trades. Han is the ruler of his own island, and he’s holding a martial-arts tournament there. Americans Roper…

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Cleaning Out The DVR #15: Random Harvest (dir by Mervyn LeRoy)


This morning, as a part of my continuing effort to watch 38 films by Friday and clean out the DVR, I watched Random Harvest, a romantic melodrama from 1942.

And when I say that Random Harvest is a melodrama, I’m not exaggerating.  During the first hour of the film, I found myself thinking that if Random Harvest were made today, it would probably be a Lifetime movie.  By the time the second hour started, I realized that it would actually probably be one of those heavily hyped miniseries that ends up being broadcast on A&E, Bravo, and Lifetime at the same time.  This is one of those big, epic stories where, every few minutes, a new plot twist emerges.

When the film opens during the first World War, John Smith (Ronald Colman) is a patient at a British asylum.  He knows that he was once a soldier.  He knows that he was gassed during a battle.  He knows that he’s recovering from extreme shell shock and it’s still a struggle for him to relate to other human beings. He knows that he will probably spend the rest of his life as a patient at the asylum.  He also knows that his name is not John Smith.  He’s not sure what his real name is because he suffers from amnesia.

One night, a message comes to the asylum.  The war has ended!  All of the doctor and orderlies go out to celebrate, leaving Smith unguarded.  Smith simply walks out of the asylum and eventually makes his way to a nearby town.  It’s there that he meets Paula (Greer Garson), a kind-hearted singer who invites Smith to join her traveling theatrical troupe.

Paula and Smith fall in love, end up getting married, and have a child together.  Paula encourages Smith to become a writer and eventually, a publisher in Liverpool asks to meet with him.  However, when Smith goes to Liverpool, he ends up getting hit by a car.  When he regains consciousness, he suddenly knows that his name is Charles Rainier and that he’s rich!  However, he no longer remembers that he was once named John Smith, that he’s married to Paula, or that he has a child.

The years pass.  Charles returns to his old life of servants, money, and political ambition.  His stepniece, Kitty (Susan Peters), falls in love with him but Charles, for his part, cannot stop wondering about what happened between getting gassed in World War I and getting hit by that car in Liverpool.

Meanwhile, Paula refuses to believe that Smith had abandoned her.  Even after she has him legally declared dead, she continue to believe that he’s out there.  And then one day, she sees a picture of Charles Rainier.  She also learns that Rainier needs an executive secretary, which just happens to be what Paula does when she’s not singing…

Just from reading that plot, you probably think that Random Harvest is an incredibly silly film, that type that, if it were made today, would star Katharine Heigl and maybe a British guy who had a minor role on Game of Thrones.  But, dammit, Random Harvest works!  Filmmakers in the 30s and 40s knew how to make this type of melodrama totally compelling and believable.  There’s not a hint of snarkiness or cynicism to be found in Random Harvest and, as a result, it feels almost churlish to criticize the plot for being implausible.  Sincerity saves this film.

Random Harvest was nominated for Best Picture but it lost to another film starring Greer Garson, Mrs. Miniver.  However, Garson gave a far better performance in Random Harvest than she did in Miniver.  When you watch most of her film today, Greer Garson always comes across as talented but a little boring and obvious in her technique.  (She was the Meryl Streep of her day.)  In Random Harvest, Garson actually gets to sing and danger and laugh and behave like a human being.  After seeing her in Blossoms In The Dust, Mrs. Miniver, and Sunrise at Campobello, watching her performance in Random Harvest is akin to an acting revelation.

Meanwhile, Ronald Colman also does a great work at both Smith and Charles (and they really are two separate characters).  Admittedly, Colman does come across as being a little bit too old for the role (and the age difference between him and Susan Peters does add a certain odd subtext to the scenes between Charles and Kitty) but, otherwise, he’s totally and completely credible as the character.  When he’s Smith, he speaks in a halting, uncertain tone and he walks like he’s still learning how to put one foot in front of the other.  When he becomes Charles, he’s definitely more confident but he still moves like a man who feels as if it’s his duty to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders.

(I have to admit that I’ve always found it strange that Margaret Mitchell apparently wanted Ronald Colman to play Rhett Butler in Gone With The Wind.  Watching his performance here, I still could not see Colman as Rhett but he would have made a great Ashley Wilkes.)

The beautiful Susan Peters was nominated for best supporting actress for her performance as Kitty.  Random Harvest was her first major role and she gives such a great and likable performance that it makes it all the more tragic that her career was cut short.  Just three years after appearing in Random Harvest, Susan was accidentally shot by her husband.  Though she survived, she would never walk again.  When she died, at the age of 31 in 1952, the official cause was pneumonia but it was also said that she had stopped eating and drinking and had literally lost the will to live.  Whether you love Random Harvest or you think it’s just a silly melodrama, you should watch it just to see Susan Peters’s great performance and to consider what could have been.