With the ongoing siege in Marawi City, Filipinos have become more aware of the soldiers’ heroic deeds and the difficult situations they go through to protect the country.
Their lives, including their families’, are on the edge in the call of duty.
This is what director Enzo Williams wants the audiences to realize in the action movie “AWOL,” which tells the story of a lieutenant whose life and family were put in danger after a successful mission due to someone’s revenge.
“It’s something important na ma-realize sana ng mga manunuod. With what’s going on right now, aside from the dangers na hinaharap nila when they go on missions, may bwelta pa iyan,” Enzo told Bulletin Entertainment in an interview.
He revealed this happens in real life among soldiers; on average about four times a year, he claimed.
In the movie, Gerald Anderson plays Lt. Abel Ibarra, teamleader of an elite sniper group, who became AWOL in the service to investigate a crime on his own hands. Bembol Rocco and Dianne Medina also star in the movie to be shown nationwide starting Aug. 16 for Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino.
“AWOL” can be an eye-opener, where people can have a deeper appreciation for the soldiers. He and Gerald recently visited the wounded soldiers from Marawi in AFP Hospital and saw the impact of the ongoing conflict.
“We don’t want to use Marawi as a promotion but it’s sad na this is happening. Sana matapos na din ’yung sa Marawi. It’s more of appreciation sa mga sundalo na this is what they go through. Gerald was able to see ’yung epekto ng pagbawi, like when you’re in the field, may mga nabulag, naputulan ng paa. This is really not a joke what the soldiers do for us,” he said.
Having a limited budget, Enzo sought the support of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Gerald even underwent training with the AFP and learned how to carry weapons.
Enzo said, “He trained by army rangers na kasama din namin sa shoot, the way a sniper would walk, would carry his guns, how he would aim. So accurate siya.”
Fan of the genre
Doing an action movie gave Enzo a different kind of excitement because he has always been a fan of the genre.
“I’m really a fan of action films. I’m happy now na I’m able to start it again. Fan ako nila Phillip Salvador, he’s really the one I dream of working with. ’Yung most respected actors sa akin sila Boyet de Leon, Bembol Rocco, mga panahon nila Lino Brocka,” he said.
The action genre is now being slowly revived in the movies and on TV, such as Coco Martin’s “Ang Probinsyano,” which also paved the way for other action stars to go back to acting. Enzo revealed they had a limited budget as action is still not as popular as rom-com or comedy movies.
“Kasi unti-unti pa lang bumabalik ’yung action so unti-unti pa lang din sumusugal ’yung mga producers. So syempre we try to work with what we have,” he said.
Asked if he is concerned audiences might not be ready yet for the comeback of action movies, “If you see the movie, you’re gonna get what you expect. Okay din naman if they’re not ready which means it’s something new. Kasi kung pare-pareho lang ang pinapanuod nila, take them out of their comfort zone. ’Yung pacing ng trailer is same as the movie, mabilis. Ang daming nangyari, ang dami niyang kalaban.”
Enzo boasts that “AWOL,” which he described as a full action movie, has more than five action scenes. He believes that action still has its market.
“The bigger it is, iyon talaga ang pinupuntahan. Minsan some people just wants to be entertained and don’t care much about the story. If it’s drama, it’s just gonna be drama,” he said.
Enzo has always wanted to make movies ever since he was nine years old. In 2011, Enzo went to the US to study film in Los Angeles City College. He returned to Manila in 2014 to direct the Metro Manila Film Festival entry “Bonifacio,” which earned multiple awards, including Best Picture, Youth Choice Award, and the FPJ Memorial Award for Film Excellence.
“I want to make movies that people will remember. I don’t mind if people don’t know my name. Gusto ko ’yung pelikula ’yung matandaan nila. Of course, I want to entertain,” he said.
Aside from “AWOL,” Enzo is also directing a biopic movie about the late international race car champion Enzo Pastor.
“After these two, I will become very choosy na. I’ll try to do one lang para talaga full attention sa project. I’m just gonna concentrate on what I’m gonna do next. I’m so excited sa kung ano man ang mauuna, may tatlo na na dini-develop,” he said.
Enzo has shown versatility in doing different genres of movies. He will also soon do comedy, which he said scares him.
“That’s the hardest thing to do. Wala pa yata nakakapantay sa genius ni Wenn Deramas. He’s the only one who can really breakthrough in comedy. He’s brilliant in getting the masses watch his film and that’s hard,” he said.
Telling stories through movies is Enzo’s way of giving inspiration to Filipinos that we have the talent to be recognized globally.
“Pinoy ako so mahal ko ang mga Pilipino. I want to inspire. I want to tell them that we can all make it. We can compete and be the best that we can be,” he said. (With report from Jojo P. Panaligan)