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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Dec 12, 2021



DIRECTOR BRILLANTE MENDOZA’s soft porn flick, “Palitan”, is currently being shown on Vivamax. 

And now, his new movie that won the Kim JI Seok Award with US$10,000 at the Busan International Filmfest last October, “Gensan Punch”, is now also being screened as an HBO Original movie  starting December 15, after it had a screening in Japan in November. 

“Gensan Punch” is based on the true story of Naozumi Tsuyama or Nao, a one-legged Japanese athlete from Okinawa who dreams of being a professional boxer. 

He’s not given a license in Japan so he goes to Gen. Santos City, also known as Gensan, to train in the city where boxing champ Manny Pacquiao hails from.

In the film, Nao is played by Japanese actor-model Shogen. He lost one of his legs in an accident when he was a little boy. 

Due to his disability, authorities in Japan won’t give him a professional license. so he goes to Gensan to train in the Gensan Punch Gym, where many top boxers trained.

The owner Ben (Jun Nayra) welcomes him warmly and introduces him to his daughter (Beauty Gonzales) and to the other boxers that he is training in his gym. 

Ben also introduces him to his personal trainer, Rudy (Ronnie Lazaro), a former champion boxer himself. The Gensan boxing authorities tell him that he has to win in three consecutive fights for him to be given a license and achieve a professional status.

Rudy treats him like a son and we see him training and fighting, along with the other young boxers. The most friendly among his colleagues is Bon Jovi (Vince Rillon), who also drives him around in a tricycle. 

One of the most touching scenes in the film is when Bon Jovi is hit on the head by his opponent, loses consciousness and is rushed to the hospital.

This incident prompts Rudy to rig Nao’s third and final fight. When Nao hears about this, he is outraged and confronts Rudy as he obviously has a strong code of honor and doesn’t want to participate  in any kind of corruption. 

The film accomplishes its goal of projecting its lead character as an inspirational hero who is determined to overcome his disability without any form of cheating. 

This is easily accomplished because Shogen as Nao has a quiet but winning on-screen charisma. He is soft spoken, always very courteous to others and has an amiable personality that is easy to like and root for. 

We just wish Mendoza and his scriptwriter, Honee Alipio, gave us a bit more personal background about Nao. 

We see brief flashbacks of him as a little child and his mom (Kaho Minami) being abandoned by his American serviceman dad and nothing else.

 There was also an attempt to give him a romantic interest when he knocks on Beauty Gonzales’ bedroom door and she accepts him in, but this, too, is suddenly dropped and not at all pursued. 

It’s as if Mendoza is afraid to give his film any emotion as it might turn melodramatic. 

There’s also little dialogue and, as is his wont, Mendoza just makes his favorite handheld camera do most of the talking to give it a documentary feel. 

In all fairness, the fight scenes on the ring are well staged and very persuasive.

As a whole, “Gensan Punch” is a clear deviation of Mendoza from his past works as an alternative filmmaker. This is the heartfelt personal journey of a legless boxer who wants to find his own place in the sun. 

It should certainly serve as an encouragement for all people with disability, telling them not to let it be a hindrance in the pursuit of their dreams.