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07 August 2014

Cinemalaya 2014: "The Janitor" (Film Review)

Ever since the commercial and critical success of “OTJ” (On the Job), resurrecting the long defunct Filipino action genre has become a possibility than a dream.  Mainstream cinema has released new action movies before “OTJ” but the audience response was lukewarm. With “The Janitor,” it seems the action genre is creeping its way up the mainstream via independent cinema route.  “The Janitor” is relatively well made and boosts a cast of A-list actors, making it the "OTJ" of 2014, so far at least.  Perhaps the FPJ-Robin Padilla type of action movies will never return and glossier, sexier and more sophisticated action movies will take its place. 

“The Janitor” may appear new but it still possesses the clichés and the ostentatious machismo of old actions movies during the twentieth century.  The strippers and prostitutes are present. Corrupt officers and real criminals are in cahoots and so on.  However, the likes of “OTJ” and “The Janitor” offer something new, which is supermodel-type actor.  Joseph Estrada, FPJ and Rudy Fernandez looked pudgier compared with the much ripped Piolo Pascual in “OTJ” and Raymond Bagatsing, Derek Ramsay, and even Richard Gomez in this film.  “The Janitor” may also be mistaken as Dennis Trillo’s work out video, and Derek Ramsay’s fitness commercial.  Despite the male body exposure, female characters still ended up showing more skin, including pubic hair.


“The Janitor” starts with a good premise but it quickly became illogical as we witness the actions and decisions of its main character, Crisanto (Dennis Trillo).  Crisanto is a former police officer now working as a hitman for the police.  He may look youthful but he still shares the same genetic design of the characters of Ramon Revilla, Rudy Fernandez, Jeric Raval and Joseph Estrada. Crisanto is quite talkative for a hitman. A hitman is supposedly stealth and quick. Find the target and shoot. However, Crisanto is simply too eager to talk to his target first, and in so doing, putting himself in peril. He also executed his killings most haphazardly.  Nevertheless, we should not blame Crisanto because he is mere offspring of the quintessential Filipino action movie character.  Crisanto, like his predecessors, converses with his enemies first and vice versa. This is actually a narrative device: the most convenient way to reveal secrets in the story and the laziest way to execute characterization. 

Crisanto does not belong to the new breed of Filipino action heroes; he is “old school” with a fitter body, more youthful-looking clothes and more fashion magazine friendly face. Thankfully, he is not as sexist as his forefathers. Still, “The Janitor” is a typical action movie, and as Tasuya Ishida illustrated in his comic strip “Sinfest,” what all action movies really want to say is “I have a penis!” and “I am heterosexual!”

Which Films Should You Watch in this Year's Cinemalaya (2014)
Critics' Awards
Post-Analysis Essay (soon) 

2014 Entries

2013 Cinemalaya Essays
What is a Critic?
Our Choices: 2013 Cinemalaya

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