There’s always that one guy in every group and he’s the guy we all hate for all the wrong reasons. Alam mo yung kabarkada mong hindi umiinom pag lumalabas kayo laging walang kamatayang iced tea lang? O kaya nung bata kayo tapos gusto niyong manuod ng VCD ng bagong movie ni Maui Taylor sasabihin niya “guys, wag ganyan masama yan” sabay hahawak sa kamay mo para magdasal ng “Ama Namin”? And you think to yourself that this has to be some sort of act because no person can possibly be that nice. Sino namang tatanggi kay Maui Taylor noong panahon na lumabas ang pelikulang Hibla?! Wala naiintindihan mo?! Wala!

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In the Oscar-nominated war movie Hacksaw Ridge from director Mel Gibson, that guy is Desmond Doss. Desmond (played by Andrew Garfield otherwise known as “the artist formerly known as Spider-Man”) believes in non-violence and would never under any circumstances touch a gun or commit acts of violence against another person. He’s by the book when it comes to the Bible, in the same way that Manny Pacquiao probably is. But the thing is, Desmond enlists to serve in the US Army in their fight against the Japanese during World War II. How the hell does anyone survive the war without firing his gun? Desmond somehow does and finds himself being awarded the Medal of Honor. He’s the first conscientious objector (someone who refuses to fight in the army because of his conscience) to do so. And his story is nothing short of a miracle.

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The first half of the movie does a great job of telling us how Desmond came to be how he is. It shows us how when he was a kid he would fight a lot with his older brother in the same way that most of us probably did when we were kids. During one of their fights, things got out of hand and he almost kills his brother when he hits him with a brick on the head. (Kung sa akin nangyari yun baka nanay ko pa mismo pumatay sa atin.) From that point forward (and along with his experiences with his abusive father) he decides to denounce violence. He falls in love with Dorothy (Teresa Palmer), a beautiful nurse at a local hospital and realizes that his passion is in helping people. So he enlists as a medic with the thinking that instead of killing people, he’ll be saving lives instead. But apparently things don’t work that way in the army and he gets court martialed for refusing to handle a gun.

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Kung lumabas ka sa gitna ng movie para bumili ng popcorn dahil nautusan ka ng girlfriend mo at wala kang magawa kung hindi sumunod, baka magulat ka pag balik mo kasi yung second half ng pelikula is where the actual action takes place. In this regard, I think this is the best war movie since Saving Private Ryan came out. A lot of shows and movies have done great battle scenes and The Revenant and the Battle of the Bastards episode of Game of Thrones did them really well. But as far as war movies go, parang walang talagang maganda recently. Mel Gibson has always been really good when it comes to shooting battle scenes and Hacksaw Ridge was no different. There are scenes here, fight choreography, and camera angles that you haven’t seen before.

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What makes Hacksaw Ridge work in my opinion is how it successfully takes everything we like about war movies in the past, puts them all together, and tells a story that is uniquely its own. Dun sa part na pinapakita yung love story niya with Dorothy, you might remember Pearl Harbor. Dun sa part na nasa boot camp siya which is my personal favorite, it’s reminiscent of Full Metal Jacket. For the part where he gets court martialed, baka maalala mo yung pelikulang Men of Honor. Of course when it comes to the battle scenes, you might compare it to Saving Private Ryan. It’s a throwback to the war movies of yesteryear but it stands on its own two feet.

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The mere fact that Mel Gibson (despite his reputation as Hollywood’s drunk uncle) is once again nominated says everything you need to know about Hacksaw Ridge. It has everything audiences enjoy about war movies and Andrew Garfield as the mild-natured but courageous Desmond Doss delivers a performance good enough to be nominated for an Oscar. What I like the most about Hacksaw Ridge is it’s not just a movie about war. More importantly, it’s a story that serves as proof that you can never put a good man down. It shows us how war and adversity can also bring out the good in people and how it sometimes pays to stick to your convictions.

If you think about it, this might be the first war movie where the hero doesn’t kill anyone but instead saves people. And all that without firing a single shot. What a fucking badass.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

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Hacksaw Ridge is out in cinemas nationwide starting Feb 22.

All images are courtesy of COLUMBIA PICTURES


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