Fernando Poe, Jr. (Born Ronald Allan Kelley Poe; August 20 1939 - December 14, 2004) was a Filipino actor, director, screenwriter, producer, singer, and attempted politician. He was dubbed The King of Philippine Cinema and more colloquially, Da King or FPJ.note In the annals of Filipino cinema he is considered the country's answer to John Wayne and Elvis Presley, though his long repitoire of action movies might very well make him a mix of Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson, Lee Marvin, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris, Burt Reynolds, Tom Selleck, Kurt Russell, and David Hasselhoff.
FPJ's career began in 1955 after the passing of his father, Fernando Poe, Sr. from rabies during production of ones of his movies, while the younger Poe was in junior high. Dropping out of school, he got his first acting role in Anak ng Palaris (Child of Palaris), before becoming a star in the long-running youth comedy series Lo' Waist Gang. The series was a massive success, having kickstarted the popularity of the titular pants. However it was 1961's Markado (Marked) a Swashbuckler adventure that crowned him as "Da King", as it was his first venture as an independent producer with his own studio, FPJ Productions. He spent the rest of the 60s in a series of urban dramas in the vein of A Streetcar Named Desire and more notably, a string of Filipino westerns, along with a few war movies, some of which were made with American companies. In 1968, Da King found his Queen when he married The Queen of Filipino Cinema, Susan Roces, in a ceremony with then-President Ferdinand Marcos and his wife, Imelda, serving as sponsors.note FPJ and Susan would remain Happily Married for the next 36 years, despite FPJ having more than one affair with a few of his female costars. FPJ would have three children with either Susan or his mistresses in this time, though he'd also adopt a daughter, Grace Poe, who would cameo in a few of his movies and successfully run for office as a senator.
The 70s served as a transitional period for FPJ. He did a few more westerns before transitioning to his bread-and-butter action movies which lasted well into the 80s, 90s, and 2000s. (He would supplement these with the occasional Screwball Comedy.) However it was his four-part 80s Fantasy Series Ang Panday (The Blacksmith) which some consider to be his Magnum Opus. The four films swept the box office at every Metro Manila Film Festival they were shown in, winning a Best Picture Award every time along with a slew of awards.
Despite his lofty title and place in Filipino cinema as its unbeatable box-office top draw, FPJ was also well-noted for being an all-round Nice Guy and Humble Hero in Real Life, which only endeared him more to the masses. Stories of his endless generosity include him paying the bills for one of his colleagues who'd fallen on hard times, providing catering for his film crews (breaking a tradition in Filipino filmmaking and setting a new precedent), and anonymously donating massive amounts of relief goods to disaster victims, sometimes arriving way ahead of the government's own relief efforts.
Acting chops aside, FPJ also directed and produced many of his own movies under the Pen Names D'Lanor and Ronwaldo Reyesnote . A well-known story is that when his one of his own movies won an award at the FAMAS Awards (the Filipino answer to the Oscars), nobody could claim to have met or seen "Ronwaldo Reyes" until FPJ himself went on stage and said that he was in fact Ronwaldo Reyes.
In 2004, after a 49-year career on the silver screen, FPJ attempted to run for the presidency against the incumbent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, despite a lack of political experience. After a close electoral race, FPJ lost the election by a narrow margin. FPJ himself would sadly pass away on December 14th of that year following a stroke. Many close friends believed that the shock of losing the election despite his popular support with the masses was the cause of his passing. As an even bigger Kick the Dog moment, it was revealed a few years later that Macapagal-Arroyo had in fact rigged the vote to her favor in certain provinces, thus delegitimizing her own victory.
FPJ received a true sendoff fit for a king after a nine-day wake on December 22, with estimates for mourners going as high as two million. Such numbers for a local public figure's funeral hadn't been seen since the funeral of Ninoy Aquino, Jr. in 1983 and the passing of FPJ's friend and frequent co-star Julie Vega in 1985.
Despite his passing, FPJ's legacy remains strong in his home country to this day. Reruns of his movies draw well in the TV ratings, his two daughters are well-involved in local politics, a golden statue of him was erected in Manila, and as an ultimate tribute, his 1997 blockbuster Ang Probinsyano was adapted into a a TV series with the full blessing and involvement of his estate.
Some of his major films include, but are no means limited to:
- The aforementioned Ang Panday saga, with FPJ as Flavio, The Panday, or Blacksmith, wielder of a magic balaraw, or dagger, that turns into a magic sword. Flavio is pitted against the 300-year old Dark Lord Lizardo, played by character actor Max Alvarado. An adaptation of a comic strip by Carlo J. Carapas, and considered the Filipino answer to Conan the Barbarian and The Lord of the Rings.
- The Kapag Puno Na Ang Salop (When The Measure is Full) trilogy, where he portrays a Country Mouse Cowboy Cop pitted against a corrupt judge played by his frequent costar Eddie Garcia.
- The Ang Probinsyano duology, which would later be adapted into a successful TV series.
- The Isang Bala Ka Lang! (You'd Only Take One Bullet!) duology, where he plays a Retired Badass Cowboy Cop. The first film won him a FAMAS Best Actor Award.
- Uiimpisahan Mo, Tatapusin Ko! (You Start, I'll Finish!), where he plays another Country Mouse Cowboy Cop looking for his kidnapped bride-to-be in Manila. The film bagged him another FAMAS Best Actor Award.
- Ang Padrino (The Patron), with him as an urban philanthropist. It won Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay at the 1985 FAMAS Awards. Also notable for including Filipino radio legend Rey Langit as a Professional Killer hired to kill FPJ's character.
- Musilm .357, where he plays a Muslim cop transfered to Manila to fight against The Syndicate, headed by the corrupt Police Captain Ramos, played by again by Eddie Garcia. This won him his fifth and final Best Actor Award and a spot in the FAMAS Hall of Fame.
- Alamat ng 7 Kilabot (Legend Of The Dreaded Seven), an All-Star Western starring himself and his fellow action stars in a Filipino-ized version of The Magnificent Seven (1960).
- Pakners (Partners), his last movie, an action-comedy with billiards legend Efren "Bata" Reyes.
- Aguila (Eagle) a three-hour historical Epic Movie directed by Eddie Romero, Quentin Tarantino's favorite Filipino director.
Tropes that apply to him and his works are:
- A Father to His Men: He was the first Filipino producer to break the mold of not providing catering to the film crew.
- The Ace: Definitely applies to him in real life, with his 5 FAMAS Best Actor wins and long list of film roles. He was also was a crack pistol shot like his Cowboy Cop characters, plus undertook actual boxing training for his picture Apollo Robles.
- Berserk Button:
- For his Muslim fans (the Philippine population being 30% Muslim after all), him being Killed Off for Real in his movies. There's an infamous story where an entire theatre full of them went into a full riot after seeing him dying in one movie.
- For his fans in general, speaking ill of him.
- For the man himself, disrespecting the film crew.
- Badass Grandpa: He was acting well into his sixties and still going strong.
- Blood Brothers: With ex-President Joseph Estrada.
- Bottomless Magazines: A frequent occurrence in his action movies and westerns.
- Dare to Be Badass: True story: one of his more fanatic fanboys actually brought a gun into the theatre (security restrictions in Philippine movie houses being very lax at the time) and started shooting at the screen to "help" FPJ fight his onscreen enemies.
- Guttural Growler: His own voice. Effective when handing down verbal smackdowns to the bad guys.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: A favorite punishment of his to the bad guys.
- Humble Hero: Was this on-screen and in real life, which made him all the more popular and endearing.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: His characters are capable of hitting a bullseye target several times in a row and shooting blades off knives.
- Implacable Man / One-Man Army: His Cowboy Cop characters played this to [[Film/Commando John Matrix-level degrees]].
- Kick the Dog: His loss in the 2004 presidential elections. Made even worse when it was later revealed his opponents had committed electoral fraud.
- Mr. Fanservice: Was this in his younger years.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: His Real Life achievements as an actor, director, singer, songwriter, producer, and politician nothwithstanding, he's played Cowboy Cops, actual Cowboys, a blacksmith, Do Anything Soldiers, Everymen, Lovable Rogues, billiards players, taxi drivers, jeepney drivers, mechanics, Badass Preachers, reformed criminals, Farm Boys], [[CombatMedic Combat Medics, boxers, fishermen, bodyguards, politicians, Henpecked Husbands, urban philanthropists, Retired Badasses and even a Serial Killer!
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: His patented "Machine-Gun Punches".
- Red Baron:
- "Da King", and "FPJ", to many.
- "Ronnie", to his friends and family.
- Title Drop: Fond of these in his movies.
- True Companions: With Joseph Estrada, his crew at FPJ Productions, and surprisingly, his on-screen enemies Eddie Garcia, Paquito and Romy Diaz, Vic Diaz (no relation), and Max Alvarado.