Still showing in a few cinemas on its third week, “Respeto” is arguably one of the best local films you could ever watch this year, which is remarkable considering the high number of great Pinoy films that came out so far.
Featuring the acting debut of Abra in the lead role as Hendrix and his longtime friend and rival in the Fliptop scene Loonie, this epic take on the underground world of battle rapping will have you oohing and ahhing over the fact that for a movie about the underground world of battle rapping, it’s actually anything but about the underground world of battle rapping.
Here are 8 reasons “Respeto” should really, really be on your shortlist of films to watch this year, Filipino or otherwise.
A film that features poverty without turning into poverty porn
It’s impressive to find such restraint from a film that really has to show the dark underbelly of society, but you will find that any shots of the abject poverty around Hendrix and the seedy world he lives in do not linger or attempt to sensationalize the poverty all around him. It simply is what it is.
Who knew Abra was a natural at this?
Even when he’s emoting and not rapping, Abra’s Hendrix is a treat to see onscreen. Everything he does is effortless. You know that the character he portrays is near and dear to him, and there’s a lot of clear love for the material he’s handed.
Battle rap may only be a backdrop for what is essentially a tale of the parallels between then and now, but the segments they do give us feature a great variety of styles and approaches.
An ode to Balagtasan
Owing its roots to Balagtasan, today’s Fliptop battles definitely reflect a kind of elegance when it comes to lyricism and poetry. Even in the middle of all the crassness and the insults, you can still see the art within.
Without spoiling anything, Respeto’s themes couldn’t have come at a better time. It really went straight to the heart of what turned Respeto’s backdrop into a vibrant supporting character for its underlying message.
When one has had enough
Respeto is an exercise of how much one man can stand before they wake up and take back their lives. It is not always a happy moment.
Grit you can relate to
You don’t need to be from the mean streets to see yourself in Drix or even his friends. All you need to be is someone who wanted to be part of someone or something that didn’t want you the same way.
It doesn’t force a specific opinion down your throat
For a movie that tackles pretty controversial topics, there’s a lot of room in Respeto for you to form your own opinion, and that’s what makes it special: it respects the audience’s intelligence as opposed to insulting it.
What was your favorite part? Tell us about it below!