Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Madonna and the Dragon (aka Tinikling ou “La Madonne et le dragon”)

(1989, Fr[TV], 90m)
d Samuel Fuller p Jean-François Lepetit sc Samuel Fuller, Jena-Pierre Sinapi, Daniel Tonachella ph Alain Levent ed Catherine Kelber ad Jean-Pierre Clech m Marc Hillman, Patrick Roffé cast Jennifer Beals, Luc Merenda, Reginald Singh, Patrick Bauchau, Behn Cervantes, Christa Lang, Pilar Pilapil, Tanya Gomez, Laurent Brégeat, Samuel Fuller

The opening of Fuller’s final film is as electrifying as anything he ever did: on a steaming garbage mountain somewhere in the Philippines, Beals’ photojournalist is ordered to shoot (film) as a soldier executes a praying scavenger. Thereafter the TV acting and brusque editing (even by his standards) of Fuller’s late period kick in, following Beals, her photojournalist ex-husband and a perky kid from the dump caught up in the People’s Revolution of the mid-80s and an intrigue concerning a missing roll of film, enlivened by some dynamic set-pieces (kids storming a casino, a firefight in a movie theatre), Fuller himself as the “Newsworld” bureau chief in the Philippines, and a palpable sense of outrage at the poverty and hunger he found there. The children’s game of tinikling – stick-jumping – is a blunt but effective cultural metaphor for the people in bloody conflict with itself.

© Time Out Film Guide

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