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Film / Heneral Luna

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Bayan o Sarili?note 
"Mga kapatid, mayroon tayong mas malaking kaaway kaysa mga Amerikano: ang ating sarili." note 
Heneral Luna

Heneral Luna, released September 9, 2015, is a historical biopic film depicting General Antonio Luna (John Arcilla) and his exploits while leading the Philippine Revolutionary Army against the United States during the Philippine-American War.

The trailer can be viewed here.

A sequel with the same cast and crew, Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral (Goyo: The Boy General) about Luna's contemporary General Gregorio del Pilar was released in 2018. A third film about Manuel Quezon, President of the later Philippine Commonwealth is also planned. Both men appear here in small roles. Tarrog also did a short film, Angelito, which takes place in between Luna and Goyo. As of 2020, the full film is officially free to watch as well, English subtitles included.

Compare Amigo, which is set roughly around the same time, in the same war, but doesn't directly deal with Real Life personalities. It instead depicts a more generalized flashpoint of the Philippine-American War, set in a fictional village.

Heneral Luna contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Actor Allusion: Comedy actor Leo Martinez plays Pedro Paterno as smarmy comic relief, but with the same thick accent as his character Congressman Manhik-Manaog, a corrupt self-serving politician. This helps convey that Paterno isn't that different, and in real life, after the film's events, he became a turncoat for the Americans.
  • Alliterative Name: Pedro Paterno.
  • Alone in a Crowd: Apolinario Mabini's Oh, Crap! moment during the funeral scene when he sees the blood on the bolo of a Kawit Brigade soldier who is part of the entourage, leading him to realize that Aguinaldo really did order Luna and his subordinates' deaths.
  • Ambiguously Evil: Word of God says that he instructed Mon Confiado, Emilio Aguinaldo's actor, to not portray him as an all-out villain but instead someone who just wants to preserve his position whatever the cost.
  • Anachronism Stew: In the scene where Luna and his men are praying in church, there is an icon of Our Lady of Fatima seen in the background, despite the said visions happening almost two decades after the film's setting.
  • And Starring: Paulo Avelino, who plays Gregorio Del Pilar, gets the "With Special Participation" citation in the film's CBB.
  • Anti-Hero: Luna is not really an Ideal Hero and he knows it.
  • Antiquated Linguistics: More subtle than others, but the Tagalog used through most of the film is accurate to the time period. In part due to the use of more formal, Spanish-derived terms and the fact that modern Filipino (itself based on Tagalog with influences from English and other native tongues) wasn't conceived yet.
  • Artistic License – History: Lampshaded in the opening text, pointing out how the film is a mix of historical fact and the imaginary. Ironically, the movie is still reasonably true to history in spite of the disclaimer, especially compared to previous Philippine history movies, due to its Warts and All approach to the people and setting in contrast to more "textbook" or simplified narratives used in the past.
    • For instance, it is not actually clear (and may well never be) that Aguinaldo directly wanted or was directly involved in bringing about Luna's death, beyond command responsibility for the men who personally killed him, as clear "smoking gun" evidence about this has yet to be unearthed. What is certain is only that Luna was summoned to Aguinaldo's headquarters through telegraph, but the President was missing when he arrived and he was thus alone with Felipe Buencamino and Aguinaldo's presidential bodyguards. At the very least, Aguinaldo can be taken to task for not punishing Luna's immediate killers. But the film takes the definite stance that he was complicit, and the repercussions go all the way to the sequel Goyo, where another of Aguinaldo's generals, Jose Alejandrino, is depicted as relentlessly prodding him about the issue - until he finally admits that it was for the Republic's sake, or so he thought. That film then has Alejandrino relay this to Mabini in a letter, but after Mabini is captured by the Americans, the letter is left behind and lost to history. Furthermore in this film, right after Luna is assassinated, Buencamino searches his pockets for his own copy of the message from Aguinaldo, and destroys it on the spot.
    • The film states that Luna is the only officer with some formal education in military science. But most of this was from a hurried few months' worth of a crash course in Belgium. And since he joined the Revolution late—in 1898—he had almost no combat experience compared to officers under him who'd been fighting since 1896, and even longer if they were Spanish-colonial military veterans who had defected.
    • Ysabel, the woman portrayed as Luna's Love Interest here, is entirely made-up, but may be based in part on the (also dubious and politically-motivated) rumour that Luna supposedly entrusted the Revolutionary treasury to a woman named Ysidra Cojuangco, which later allegedly grew into her descendants' vast wealth.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: From the man himself:
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: Played for Laughs. Luna is shown to be more knowledgeable in French than in speaking English to a train conductor from England, who ironically can speak good Tagalog.
  • Audience Surrogate: Joven, who is entirely ficticious and serves as a narrative device throughout the film.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The movie's Foregone Conclusion, although who the real bad guy is depends on the viewer.
  • Banana Republic: The Malolos Republic is basically this: a heavily Hispanic or Latin American-esque, tropical, postcolonial republic with oligarchic and/or militarised leadership, locked in open conflict with a looming—and inevitably victoriousAmerican colonial empire.
  • Based on a True Story
  • Burning the Flag: Finale shot after Joven said the words of Luna and over the words appeared about what happened next. The bloodied Philippine Flag burned.
  • Bayonet Ya: The Americans have bayonets.
  • Big Damn Heroes: How Luna saves Gregorio del Pilar.
  • Big Eater: Rusca, who appears in almost all of his scenes chewing on some food.
  • Bilingual Bonus: José Rizal in Luna's Dream Sequence is shown reciting the last parts of Mi Último Ádios in Tagalog, over the original Spanish words spoken in the background.
    • The entire film is littered with foreign languages; if you know how to speak any combination of two languages from Tagalog, English, Spanish, and French, you get bonuses for understanding them unsubtitled, depending on which version you watch.
  • Black Comedy: Mixed in throughout with some Self-Deprecation.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: When the Americans are privately mocking the Filipinos for killing Luna, they directly address the audience.
  • Bros Before Hoes: Luna recounts with Rusca (his adjutant) an incident when he was still a student in Europe, when he and his friend José Rizal almost fought a duel to the death over a woman's affections. Luna, however, quickly apologized when he sobered up (he was drunk at that time).
  • Cassandra Truth: Luna's mother warns him near the end that Aguinaldo will betray him much in the same way he did Andrés Bonifacio. Luna dismisses her concerns, rationalizing that such an act would be too bold and illogical even for Aguinaldo. He was tragically mistaken.
    • By and large, Luna's observations about the Filipino people are this—he laments that the Filipinos value themselves and their families over their country, but he is ultimately powerless to change this mindset. Not much has changed in a hundred years.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Luna is painfully aware of the burdens and responsibilities that come with leading an army.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The cowardly captain that Luna humiliated early in the film returns near the end as one of the assassins that ended up killing him.
  • Chewing the Scenery: John Arcilla played Luna as a Hot-Blooded man with No Indoor Voice. The result is glorious.
  • Christianity is Catholic: Played straight and justified. Even into the present and like other former Spanish colonies, the Philippines is largely Roman Catholic. Indeed, Catholic influences are sprinkled throughout, such as the role of fiestas in Filipino culture which unfortunately contribute to compromising the war effort against the Americans.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: The film doesn't shy away from using curse words.
  • Composite Character: Ysabel is actually a composite character for the historical Luna's many mistresses; his actual love life may have been too cumbersome to tackle in the film.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Luna's brutal demise was portrayed very graphically — and incredibly, it was still toned down since historical accounts say his intestines were spilling out by the end.
  • Determinator: Many of the Filipino soldiers in the film would fight to death for the country.
    • As Luna was hacked and shot by several men at point blank range he continued to call them out of their treachery and cowardice. Even when his eye was shot, he still struggles to stand.
    "Mga TRAYDOR!" note 
  • Cultured Warrior: Antonio Luna, who like his brother Juan Luna, is an educated Ilustrado (which is Spanish for erudite) who's written poetry, well-read and even went to Europe at one point alongside the likes of José Rizal.
  • Death or Glory Attack: Invoked. Luna does this in his first on-screen battle when no other alternative is given. The Americans don't know whether to admire him for it or call him crazy.
  • Defiant to the End: Luna goes down cursing and shooting the traitors who assassinated him.
  • Dirty Coward: There are some examples in the Philippine army. The most notable was Buencamino's son who ran away in the heat of battle, and everyone who shot and hacked Luna.
  • Divided We Fall: One of the film's central themes. Invoked by the Americans as their most effective stratagem for subduing Luna and the Philippine resistance.
  • Downer Ending: Luna is murdered by his own countrymen, and the Americans win the war, with the First Philippine Republic dissolved as a result.
  • Dream Sequence: Luna's flashback, comes with an epic tracking shot.
  • Eagleland: Mixed example. While the Americans are still the film's secondary antagonists, they're actually shown giving Luna a lot more respect than the latter's own countrymen.
  • Enemy Civil War: The free-for-all, Game of Thrones-esque conflict amongst all the Filipino revolutionary leaders in the wake of the Spanish defeat. Granted, they're not openly going to war against each other, but their incessant infighting eventually kills off some of their better leaders—Luna included.
    • Evil Power Vacuum: The cause of said civil war—the defeated Spanish tyrants have left a hole in the power structure that the Revolution's leaders are now fighting and backstabbing each other to fill.
  • Evil Colonialist: The Americans, of course, are the Outside-Context Villain in this story, fighting the Malolos Republic as a whole—and then, of course, the Spaniards, whom said republic also recently displaced. Not that this makes the infighting Malolos leadership that much better at governing.
  • Exact Words:
    • General Tomas Mascardo dares Luna to bring along a coffin if he tries to arrest him. Luna does just that.
    Gen. Mascardo: Haven't I told you that you will need to put me in a coffin first before I follow your orders?
    Gen. Luna: *signals his troops to bring the coffin forward*
    Gen. Mascardo: You're insane, Luna.
    Gen. Luna: I just complied with your wishes, Tomás.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: Arguably, Gregorio del Pilar, who, according to history, was Aguinaldo's hatchetman and killed Luna's remaining subordinates under the President's orders.
    • Though he does make up for it later during his Last Stand against the American forces at Tirad Pass.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: The Filipinos are shown losing much more than winning. And Luna is painfully aware of it.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Anyone familiar with history knows that Antonio Luna was murdered by his countrymen. Not to mention that the First Philippine Republic was doomed to fall.
  • Foreign Cuss Word: There are Spanish swears abound. Quite a few of which have also been assimilated into Tagalog, and later Filipino, such as "Putang-ina." note 
  • Foreshadowing:
    • A flashback of Andres Bonifacio's messy death by bolo.
    • Gregorio del Pilar is almost shot and killed.
    • Also, "If your hair is not cut when I come down, I'll shoot you."
    • Buencamino insisting that his son, whom Luna shot for being a Dirty Coward, was not serving in the battlefield in Cavite, which foreshadows his rewriting of the past regarding Luna himself after his murder.
    • Historically, the Kapampangans (the inhabitants of the Province of Pampanga) were stereotyped as being treasonous and troublesome. It's little surprise then that some of the problems Luna deals with involve them in some form or another. Not to mention that Aguinaldo himself was betrayed by Kapampangan scouts, who sold him out to the Americans.
  • Gatling Good: The American forces are shown using gatling guns against the Filipinos, further highlighting just how outmatched the latter are.
  • General Failure: General Mascardo gives this impression, given he's more concerned with his ego and provincial concerns than really fighting the good fight.
  • Genius Cripple: Prime Minister Apolinario Mabini is Aguinaldo's best adviser, and is crippled with polio.
  • Genre Relaunch: The film resurrected the historical biographic films of Philippine national heroes since Marilou Diaz-Abaya's 1998 biographic film of Jose Rizal. Of course, there are other films of these genre such as the biographic film of Emilio Aguinaldo and Andres Bonifacio but these got iffy results and were later forgotten. There are also plans of having another film about Gregorio Del Pilar and later, Manuel L. Quezon if there are enough revenues.
    • The aforementioned movies about Aguinaldo (El Presidente) and Bonifacio (Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo) were later recut and relaunched in Philippine cinemas to cash on the public interest in historical biopics generated by Heneral Luna's box office success.
    • Another historical indie film followed in 2016, called Ang Hapis at Himagsik ni Hermano Puli (The Agony and Fury of Brother Puli). It is about Apolinario de la Cruz, a preacher turned rebel who lived several decades earlier.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: Gauzy, diaphanous and intricately embroidered baro't saya ensembles for the women, three-piece Western suits and barong Tagalog variants for the men, plus of course, the Revolutionary Army's uniforms (which incidentally were designed in Real Life by Juan Luna himself, Antonio's kuya or older brother, the famous painter).
  • Gorn: The film uses a lot of this.
    • During one battle with the Americans, the film pans to a close up of a Filipino soldier's head exploding after getting hit by artillery fire.
    • Luna getting shot multiple times at close range and hacked to death at the end.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The film alternates to this when not showing gorn.
  • Gratuitous English: Aside from the Americans, Luna in particular attempts to speak in English with mixed results.
    Luna to the British train conductor: I am quite sequestering this train!
  • Gratuitous Spanish: During one scene involving Aguinaldo in a private party, the crème de la crème of Filipino society are shown speaking entirely in Spanish, in contrast to the (Spanish-influenced) Tagalog and English seen elsewhere in the film.
  • Groin Attack: Luna catches Captain Janolino (who was supposed to bring in reinforcements) napping with his mistress. Said captain insists he only answers to Aguinaldo. Luna nevertheless drags him out by the balls.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Arguably Luna's biggest flaw is his own temper.
  • The Hero Dies: It is a Foregone Conclusion though.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Luna gets more than a few, especially as he realizes how much his own countrymen are a liability to their own fight for freedom.
    • Apolinario Mabini gets an understated one in the end in Luna's funeral, knowing fully well how screwed up their whole struggle was from the get-go but unable to do anything about it.
  • Historical Domain Character: The film is about Philippine history, so it's a given.
  • History Repeats: The film intentionally highlights aspects of local culture and politics that sound eerily familiar to modern-day Filipinos.
  • Honor Before Reason: Luna does not wish to negotiate with the Americans at all despite Buencamino reasoning out that the country will benefit from being allies with the USA.
    • Reason Before Honor: Buencamino wanted negotiation and minimizing losses, putting him in odds with Luna.
  • Hope Spot: The ending implies that Luna's lost cause is being carried by Joven and other silent patriots for a future generation that would be more ready to fulfill it. And if modern Filipino society is any indication, that cause is no nearer to fulfilment than it ever was.
  • Horseback Heroism: Luna during the opening battle.
  • I Am Very British: The train conductor Luna has arrested in a fit of frustration is revealed to be British. And is shown to have his own tea set and even a portrait of Queen Victoria in his office.
  • I Owe You My Life: Gregorio Del Pilar seems to imply this in The Stinger by taking in 60 of Luna's surviving soldiers with him. This is in sharp contrast to the attempts to silence Luna's loyalists and friends by his enemies seen in the ending.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Joven Hernando, the young reporter chronicling Luna's exploits and later on carries on Luna's words to the future.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Luna attempted to off himself when he thinks he's going to lose, but Paco stops him. Turns out, it would have been a Bungled Suicide anyway as his gun is jammed.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • Luna eventually becomes convinced that his countrymen's squabbles and petty self-interests are proving to the world that the Filipinos aren't ready for self-rule. The ending has the Americans lampshading how the Filipinos blew their own chance.
    • Early on, McKinley's Benevolent Assimilation speech is spoken in the background as American soldiers act as conquerors rather than liberators.
  • Irony:
    • Some of the values and traditions Filipinos have in common like family and faith prove to be what helps divide them, weakening the war effort far more than American arms.
    • Luna notices how, despite the USA having fought tooth-and-nail for its freedom, the foreigners are keen to deny the Filipinos the same thing they fought for.
    • Those familiar with Filipino history would note that among the American commanders tasked with "liberating" the Philippines was Lt. General Arthur MacArthur, Jr. Decades later, his son, General Douglas MacArthur would also be involved with liberating the country, only this time legitimately doing so against Japanese occupation in the Second World War.
    • Lampshaded by viewers who pointed out that Fernando Ortigas, the film's main producernote , is a Spaniard, a descendant of the colonialist landowners and friars whom the Filipinos defeated in the first place. However, Ortigas has fully assimilated into Filipino society, and considers himself Filipino as well—not that it's stopped netizens from snarkily pointing out how foreigners appear to care more for Philippine history than the Filipinos themselves.
  • It's All About Me: Luna rightly points out most Filipinos put self and family above the nation, and they would gladly allow the country to go to hell if there was something in it for them and their families. Sadly he is proven completely right.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Luna disciplines his troops through humiliation and death threats, and he also terrorized civilians outside the church by pointing his gun at an old vendor. He does apologize when he cools down and his treatment of other soldiers seems justified since they are at war.
  • Job Title: Heneral Luna. The film even emphasizes how much he's Married to the Job.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Oh so goddamn much. The Caviteños under Aguinaldo and Mascardo exemplify some of the worst of this; they openly refuse to cooperate with Luna, in part because of his Hair-Trigger Temper, but also because he represented a threat to the authority of their superiors. The sniping between Mascardo and Luna gets so bad at one point that Luna grouses that perhaps the Caviteños consider themselves a separate nation.
    • Truth in Television: The First Philippine Republic never controlled the entire Philippines. The Republics of Negros and Zamboanga organized themselves separately from Manila/Malolos, but were quickly dissolved under American rule. And that's not even mentioning the Sulu Sultanate!
  • Keystone Army: While composed of quite untrained soldiers and suffering from lack of arms and resources, the Philippine Revolutionary Army managed to hold well, thanks to Luna's military genius and ability to inspire and rally his troops. As history had proven, the War went downhill for the Philippines (and Aguinaldo in particular) after he was taken out of the equation.
  • La Résistance: Luna's plan from the beginning, which would culminate in striking against the Americans from a mountain stronghold in the north. While Aguinaldo eventually resorted to guerilla warfare anyway after Luna's death, the mountain stronghold plan was never enacted.
  • Large Ham:
    • Luna in the film is the epitome of this trope.
    • Some of the Americans likewise ham it up in English.
  • Latin Land: The Philippines just broke free from 300+ years of Spanish colonialism, and so of course this trope is in full effect.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Faced with imminent defeat, Luna decides to make one last stand and charges at the American lines on horseback while indiscriminately firing his revolver. Emboldened by their General's decision, the Filipino troops abandoned their positions in the trenches and charged the enemy lines head-on. The opposing General MacArthur lampshades how stupid this tactic is he decided to just pull out his troops and call it a day.
  • Light Is Good: Mabini notably wears white, to reinforce his being the Only Sane Man in Aguinaldo's cabinet, and the one who comes off the best. Especially highlighted in a scene with Aguinaldo and Luna's enemies, where he is the only one in the light and the rest are in shadow. In real life, Mabini was one of the first people to denounce Aguinaldo for his treatment of Bonifacio and Luna through his memoirs, written a few years later. (On the other hand, Mabini also did have reservations about Luna being made head of the revolutionary army on the basis of an assessment of his attitude and abilities at the time.)
  • Machete Mayhem: The Filipinos use bolos, which are similar to machetes. Luna gets stabbed and hacked as well as shot, similar to what happened to Bonifacio.
  • Manly Facial Hair: It was intended by the film's crew that Luna's mustache is natural and the thickest to emphasize his masculinity, while Mascardo's mustache is meant to be unnoticeable.
  • Married to the Job: Discussed: While Isabel is the only lover in Luna's life (well, Movie!Luna's life, anyway), she considers herself to be just his mistress nonetheless, as in her eyes the foremost thing in his heart will always be "the war".
    Ysabel: Giyera ang asawa mo. Ako ang kabit.note 
  • Majored in Western Hypocrisy: Like most of his generation of ilustrados (intellectuals), Antonio Luna studied in Europe; the long single-shot flashback, well, flashes back to his European studies—he went to Spain, of course, but also to Belgium, where he did his military studies. Even his brother Juan (the famous painter) had gone there before him.
  • Meaningful Name: Two very clear examples:
    • Luna himself: Lampshaded by Buencamino, who insists that their entire brood is full of lunatics (making it a Punny Name as well, and specifically mentioning his brother, Juan, who killed his European wife in France in an crime of passion, and Antonio himself, who is an obvious hothead). The moon is also a prevalent symbol in the story, as "Luna" means "moon" in Spanish.
    • The fictional young character named Joven, representative Audience Surrogate for the Filipinos of today, whose name means "young" in Spanish.
    • An unintentional one. Buencamino, the name of one of Aguinaldo's ministers, is Spanish for "good road"—to critics of the then-incumbent (second) Aquino administration's Daang Matuwid ("Straight Path") policy, which has been fraught with accusations of government incompetence and petty politicking, this counts as a cynical Bilingual Bonus.
  • Meet the New Boss: Instead of recognizing Filipino independence, Spain sells off the colony to the Americans, which in part causes the Philippine Revolution to transition into the Philippine-American War.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Captain Janolino, whom Luna humiliated in the beginning of the film is the one who deals the first and finishing blows during his assassination.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Ysabel sports them after having sex with Luna. Averted by the prostitute that a Janolino is screwing earlier in the film.
  • Moe Greene Special: Luna gets shot in the eye during his exceedingly brutal death.
  • Mood Whiplash: There are quite a few moments in the film. Contrast Luna's brutal murder in particular with the beautiful on-screen recreation of Juan Luna's Spoliarium.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Rivals!: By having Luna assassinated, Aguinaldo ruins the Philippines' only chance at winning the Philippine–American War, as pointed out by Generals MacArthur and Otis at the end.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Luna's lover Isabel is supposedly an Expy of Ysidra Cojuangco, with whom Luna is rumoured to have entrusted the treasury of the First Philippine Republic, and who supposedly kept it after his murder—explaining the wealth of the Cojuangco political family (who the president at the time of release was currently related to, through his mother). Historians regard the story as made-up by the Cojuangco's rivals, starting in the 1970s, as there is no real evidence that they were even an item.
    • An earlier version of the script had Mascardo and Janolino combined into one person called "Masculino".
  • Non-Action Guy: Tagalong Kid Joven Hernando and Genius Cripple Apolinario Mabini.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Luna views the Americans as this to Filipinos. Like his country, America fought hard to win its freedom. Nonetheless, he notes wryly how despite having that much in common, they're so willing to deny him and his people the same thing they died for.
  • Number Two: Paco Roman for General Luna.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Luna's "Article One".
    "Article One: Anyone who willingly commits insubordination against the Commander-General of War Operations shall be stripped of his rank and promptly executed without benefit of a court-martial."
    • Note that Luna doesn't actually kill anyone on-screen; the only Filipino he shot at on-screen for deserting was the son of Buencamino, who is implied to be alive and well when Luna gets into a heated argument with his father later in the film. This bites him in the back later when all the people he spared, but humiliated, decide to do to him what he failed to do to them: brutally execute him.
  • Only Sane Man: Apolinario Mabini seems to be the only sane official in the government who's aware of both Luna's strengths and his country's precarious state. Unfortunately, he was overpowered by other officials like Paterno and Buencamino, who Aguinaldo listened to instead of Mabini in the end.
  • Oscar Bait: A historical war movie and a Biopic of a Filipino general who had anger management issues and it's overly patriotic, gritty and violent with political messages. Bonus points for the lead actor who previously starred in United Kingdom's entry (Metro Manila) for Best Foreign Language Film back in the 2014 Oscars. You thought this would give the Philippines a chance to get nominated for the 2016 Oscars? Nah. It didn't get shortlisted for the nominations which puts the country's chance to win an Oscar into zilch again.
  • Outside-Context Problem: The Americans to a degree, as the Filipinos were originally fighting the Spaniards for freedom before the US intervened.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Subverted. While there are a lot of Filipinos who love their country, Luna notes how it's not enough to the point of actually dying for their country. Indeed, many are shown to be more loyal to their families, tribes and provinces than to the whole nation.
  • Period Piece: Set during the Philippine-American War, specifically in 1898-99.
  • Perspective Flip: of sorts, to the 2012 Aguinaldo biopic El Presidente. In this film, Luna (of course) is the Hot-Blooded patriotic protagonist while Aguinaldo is depicted as a well-meaning yet manipulative President who is more than willing to have his best General assassinated in order to consolidate his control over the Government, while in El Presidente, Aguinaldo is the protagonist and Luna depicted as a well-meaning yet hot-headed and tempestuous commander whose temper causes his untimely demise. The earlier film had drawn wide complaints that it whitewashed Aguinaldo regarding his controversies with Luna, Bonifacio, and, later in his life, the Japanese.
    • For foreigners, the film is this for the Philippine-American War, as seen from the "losing" side.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Antonio Luna submitted a resignation letter, but Aguinaldo refused it. The president encouraged Luna to lead the whole army and praised his competency. This is just moments before the plot to assassinate Luna was formed.
    • Aguinaldo's scenes with his mother. But the trope can go both ways.
  • Pretty Boy: General Gregorio Del Pilar, as played by Paulo Avelino.
  • Protagonist Title: Not a hard guess who the main character is.
  • The Quiet One: Paco Román is usually reserved, though he is Not So Stoic all the time.
  • The Quisling: Certain members of the elite and government are portrayed as this. With Luna seeing the likes of Paterno and Buencamino, who previously worked under the Spanish authorities, as opportunistic traitors.
  • Rasputinian Death: Luna himself. He is hacked, shot, and stabbed several times over by soldiers loyal to Aguinaldo. Also Truth in Television.
  • Red Herring: Early on, the Americans are framed as the main antagonists. As the film progresses however, Luna finds that his own countrymen are an even greater enemy than their actual one.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Luna's Red to Aguinaldo's Blue. Also, Eduardo Rusca's red to Paco Román's blue.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: Aguinaldo turns down Luna's offer to resign as chief of the Revolutionary Army.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Many examples.
    • Best example though: Luna's death, deliberately made to look on-screen like the Spoliarium, a famous painting by his brother, Juan Luna. Also, the looting of Luna's corpse after his death contains many elements of Christian symbolism that isn't too out of character for Filipinos at the time. Plus, the entire ending scene with Aguinaldo, the Americans, and the burning Philippine flag can all be interpreted on so many levels.
    • As for the Philippine flag, Genre Savvy and knowledgeable viewers might wonder why it is displayed "correctly" in its "peacetime" position every time it is on screen. The Philippine flag should be inverted during times of war, such as the time of the movie; this would be considered a historical innacuracy, or at least Fridge Logic, except that the one time it isn't (and brace yourself for the Fridge Brilliance): is when Aguinaldo is proclaiming his innocence. So the Philippines was only ever at war with itself. Make of that what you will.note 
    • During the scene where Luna (whose name means moon) was visited by his mother, the full moon was visible out of the window. Then when he reminisced his past the music playing was "Moonlight Sonata." So it was a triple moon scene.
  • Scenery Porn: The Philippine countryside gets shown a lot.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: A lot of characters get away with disobedience towards Luna because of their connection to Aguinaldo.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
    • In a sense, Aguinaldo's Cabinet, most of whom would prefer to sell out to the Americans and welcome them as allies, instead of facing them in a very bloody war.
    • Likewise, the Spanish, who opted to sell off the Philippines over to the Americans (who were already dealing them a Curb-Stomp Battle) rather than surrender to the Filipino Revolutionaries.
    • Some of the Filipino elite are shown to be this, given how they're thinking of fleeing the country to escape the coming bloodbath.
  • Scripted Battle: Realizing that the war against America (itself a Curb-Stomp Battle) was lost and not wanting to surrender to the Filipinos, the remaining Spanish forces in the Philippines arrange for a mock battle with the Americans to at least minimize the humiliation of handing the country over to them. The Filipino authorities nonetheless don't take too kindly upon learning of this deception.
  • Self-Deprecation: The movie highlights and pokes fun at more than a few Filipino customs, traditions and tendencies. In part because they helped bring about the Republic's defeat.
  • Sequel Hook: General Gregorio Del Pilar is set to be The Hero of the next film.
  • Shown Their Work: The entire film is impressively researched, one example being the khaki uniforms Luna and Del Pilar are shown wearing by the end, replacing the more famous white pinstriped (rayadillo) ones copied from the Spanish army which are seen earlier.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Luna can have a rather vulgar vocabulary at times.
  • Spiritual Successor:
    • To big-budget films on Philippine history - including, most recently, the 2012 Aguinaldo biopic El Presidente and the 2014 Bonifacio biopic Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo (Bonifacio: The First President).
    • Because of the film's indie nature, it can also be considered a successor to recent historical indie films, which only got limited release - 2010's Ang Paglilitis ni Andres Bonifacio (The Trial of Andres Bonifacio) and 2012's Supremo, both starring Alfred Vargas as Bonifacio. Fun fact: Mon Confiado, who here plays his enemy Aguinaldo, played his friend Macario Sakay in the latter.
    • Speaking of Sakay, an even earlier precedent would be the 1993 indie film Sakay, portraying the title character's resistance to American invasion and occupation. He continued to fight for years after the Philippine-American War was officially declared over with Aguinaldo's capture, and was eventually hanged for "banditry". Then the year before that had Bayani (Hero) about Bonifacio, with the same lead and director, Julio Diaz and Raymond Red respectively.
    • Also, to the 2010 American indie Amigo, a Philippine-American War film directed by John Sayles. Fun fact: John Arcilla himself played a supporting role in Amigo: as Nenong, a parish altar boy.
  • The Squadette: During the war women were mostly relegated into supporting roles but the film showed female soldiers serving in the Philippine army. This is actually a historical fact.
  • Standard Snippet: Moonlight Sonata plays during Luna's flashback of his youth.
  • The Stinger: Luna's remaining men are gathered in front of del Pilar, who instructs his aide to handpick sixty men, setting up the events of the Battle of Tirad Pass.
  • The Strategist: Luna is praised as a genius when it comes to war. Too bad they didn't listen to him. Historically speaking, if they had followed his advice and used guerilla warfare at the beginning, the Philippines might have fared as well as Vietnam did against the Americans. The same applies for his final mountainside garrison plan, which was never enacted.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • The escalating and increasingly ludicrous animosity between Luna and Mascardo leads to Luna going on an ultimately pointless trip to Mascardo's headquarters with some of his men. Men whose absence provides the Americans an opening in the weakened Filipino lines.
    • The film makes a point to highlight how it's not enough to just want freedom, but to also earn it.
  • Sword and Gun: Luna carries a pistol and always has a saber with him. Other officers have this as well, as it was normal during the time period. Luna uses both to try defending himself in his assassination.
  • This Means War!: The standoff and eventual shootout between an American and Filipino patrol just outside Manila in the prologue.
  • Terrible Trio: General Antonio Luna and his two aides: Colonel Francisco "Paco" Román and Captain Eduardo Rusca.
  • Translation Convention: The vast majority of the dialogue is in Tagalog so that modern-day Filipino audiences can understand it, but in Real Life Luna and most of his ilustrado and generally elite Filipino compatriots would have been speaking Spanish most of the time, given this was the prestige language of the recently ex-Spanish colony. Certainly almost all of them would have had at bare minimum a considerable Spanish-language education.
  • Undying Loyalty:
    • A lot of soldiers who served under Luna was this to him, especially Eduardo Rusco, Paco Román, and the Bernal brothers.
    • Aguinaldo's men are incredibly loyal to him too and this led to their disobedience towards Luna.
  • Villain Has a Point: For all the questionable things they say and do, Buencamino and Paterno were right with regards to fighting the Americans in being virtually a suicide mission. note 
  • War Is Hell: With all the valor and heroism on display, the film doesn't shy away from showing the brutality of war. Luna himself knows it too well and doesn't particularly relish what he has to do, but nonetheless perseveres through.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: The Filipinos at large, especially Aguinaldo's cabinet fit this to a tee.
  • Who Needs Enemies?: Luna's bigger adversaries aren't the invading Americans but his own people and government.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: More than once, he's tempted to execute transgressors on the spot, but in the end spares them though not without humiliation which in turn backfires later on when many of those he spared went along with the plan to murder him. At one point, he even opts to frighten an American colonel with a sharpshooter rather than just kill him in order to send a message to the enemy.
  • Worthy Opponent: How the Americans view Luna, ironically showing how much the enemy had more respect for him than his own fellow countrymen at the final shot of the film before during Joven's interview as they toast to the Land of the Free and Brave.
  • Written by the Winners: Deconstructed. As even the defeated are more than capable of rewriting Luna's life and death to either deny their own wrongdoing or suit their own agenda. While the "winners" proved to be more honest about Luna's actions and legacy.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy:
    • Luna, whose actions and ideas fall on deaf ears in the context of Filipino politics.
    • Some of the politicians and military officers behave as one would expect from a political drama if not straight out of Game of Thrones, which proves to be completely detrimental to actually winning the war.
  • You Are Not Ready: Another recurring motif, questioning whether the Filipinos were really prepared to earn their freedom.
  • Young Future Famous People:
    • Manuel L. Quezon, the "second" President of the Philippines (albeit under the American Commonwealth note ), makes an appearance as a young lieutenant in the Philippine army.
    • Gregorio del Pilar makes an appearance, as an up-and-coming commander in the Philippine army. The Stinger being the lead-up to the Battle of Tirad Pass, which in turn results in his heroic death. Also the Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral sets the film days after the execution of Heneral Luna.