by Rosy Mina
This Cinema One Originals entry is a touching tale that takes audiences down memory lane. A winner of the Cinema One Originals Digital Film Festival Award for Best Production Design, "Blue Bustamante" brings viewers to the fascinating world of the super sentai series which produces children’s shows and films that have vibrant special effects and live action figures.
"Blue Bustamante" (2013)
Directed by Miko Livelo
Available for free on the Cinema One YouTube channel
It's the year 1990, when communications are done over landline telephones and through snail mail, entertainment programs are viewed on analogue television sets, and Japanese anime and sentai shows are the biggest craze on the boob tube.
George Bustamante (Joem Bascon) sets off to Japan as an engineer to earn more for his family. He, however, loses his job and finds it difficult to get hired right away. After much hesitation to the prodding of his friend Roger (Jun Sabayton), he half-heartedly agrees to be a stunt double on the sentai television program “Force Five” for which he dons a full costume to do the action scenes of the Blue Force character.
The pay as a stunt double is higher, but George refuses to inform his wife June (Dimples Romana) about his new job. He is ashamed of the job he ended up with, but still perseveres so that he can provide for his family's needs.
With George working overseas, his young son Kiko (Jhiz Deocareza) begins to feel distant from his father. Feeling dejected with his overseas Filipino worker (OFW) situation, George finds comfort in finding out that Kiko's favorite TV program is "Force Five" and his hero is none other than Blue Force.
The Force Five. Still image from “Blue Bustamante”
Joem Bascon in a still image from “Blue Bustamante”
Blue Force. Still image from “Blue Bustamante”
The topics on family, OFW struggles, bullying, and friendship come together seamlessly in a manner that is heartwarming but not cheesy. The in-your-face film, written by director Miko Livelo and Joel Ferrer, has exciting touches of Japanese sentai elements reminiscent of “Bioman.”
This film is certainly a treat for the titos and titas who call themselves batang '80s and batang '90s. As for the younger ones who have not communicated with family and friends through snail mail and have not used a landline because of the prevalence of mobile phone technology, this film is still a pleasant work to watch.
More than being a throwback piece, "Blue Bustamante" is an ode to pop culture as well as a reflection of social issues. It shows how a television show is not just a source of entertainment for Kiko as the program encourages and empowers him to stand up against bullying. The combination of pop culture and social issues in this film works because they are presented matter-of-factly.
Roger (Jun Sabayton) and George (Joem Bascon) on the set of “Force Five.” Still image from “Blue Bustamante”
June (Dimples Romana) and Kiko (Jhiz Deocareza). Still image from “Blue Bustamante”
As of June 16, 2020, the film has gained almost 229,000 views and 239 comments since its upload on April 8, 2020. Some viewers expressed delight about finally getting to watch the film after looking for it for so long while others appreciated the storyline, acting, soundtrack, and direction.
It’s best to watch “Blue Bustamante” until the credits stop rolling because there are additional nostalgic elements. YouTube user Mawi Concha commented with accuracy, “‘Yung last part nakakakilabot. Kung lumaki ka talaga sa era na ito, maiintindihan mo lahat. Iba. Sarap bumalik sa nakaraan.”
The cover photo is a still image from "Blue Bustamante."
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