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Philippines' ZSAZSA ZATURNNAH (aka Pedro Almodovar's WONDER WOMAN) DVD Mini Review [Archive] - DVD Talk Forum


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02-20-10, 10:45 AM

The Philippines are known to make the worst films in the whole wide world. I've seen a few films from this country and I have agree with that belief. So in turn, I only frequent Philippines online dvd stores (for example, http://www.pinoymovierentals.com/catalog.php?act=items&ref_item_list=2&pos=1&link=1) once every 2-3 years. If I see an interesting-looking dvd cover, I'll IMDB and youtube the movie for reviews and trailers. Usually, the Filipino film would probably get a score of 3 out 10, and the trailer would look like some kids made a home video film in a parking lot. That's what I usually expect from the Philippines. But after checking out the cover and description of ZSAZSA ZATURNNAH and seeing the trailer, I HAD to see this film as soon as possible. Just look at the trailer of this wacky movie:

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So yesterday, right after work I headed to the Filipino part of Queens, NYC, and picked up the English-subtitled NTSC Region 1 DVD and watched this film last night.

ZsaZsa Zaturnnah is based on a famous Filipino graphic novel created by Carlo Vergaro. It has a huge cult following in the Philippines. It's even been made into a successful musical over there.

First, I'm happy to report that ZSAZSA ZATURNNAH is not only a good, stylishly-filmed, professionally-made Filipino film, but it's also one of the best original gay films I've ever seen! Pretend that DC Comics approached Pedro Almodovar and said "Pedro, I want you to make a Wonder Woman film. You can do anything you want with it." That's what ZSAZSA ZATURNNAH is. This film is as if Almodovar did a superhero film.

Second, I don't like gay movies usually. It's not that i'm homophobic, which I'm not - I'm all for gays, transexuals, crossdressers, etc. I'm not disgusted by them at all for any reason. The reason why I don't like most gay films is that they are stupid, not creative, bad acting, no chemistry, overly flamboyant, amateurish, and are just too preachy. I don't like Priscilla Queen of the Desert. I don't like To Wong Foo. I don't like Hedwig. I don't like Shortbus. And I don't like any of John Waters films except for Cecil B. Demented (which is already painfully dated now).

The best gay-oriented films that I've ever seen are Amee & Jaguar (lesbian lovers during WW2), Bound (lesbian thriller), The Birdcage (both French and American versions), and The 24th Day (an AIDS thriller). Now, I can add ZSAZSA ZATURNNAH to the list.

ZSAZSA ZATURNNAH is a genre film that's more at the same level as an early Sam Raimi (Evil Deads), early John Carpenter film (Big Trouble in Little China), or any of Almodovar's early comedy films (when I liked him. I don't like Almodovar's post-1991 films). The acting is surprisingly excellent in this film. The comic relief is played by an ugly crossdresser, but it's okay that she's annoying, becuase she is playing the worst kind of flamboyant drama queen. The actors also switch to English a lot as well. Usually in Asian films, actors speak poor English. But in this film, they do all their English lines flawlessly. I'm assuming that English is a main language in Philippines. Another great thing about the acting in this movie is that the actors are having fun and are really part of this film. They don't seem like people trying to act. That's the trouble I have with so many Chinese, Korean, and Japanese films, in which they are just Asian people trying to act in a movie. I call them good memory actors, but they don't put any heart or soul into their lines. There is more to acting than just memorizing lines. This is why I can't get into most contemporary Asian movies, because their self-conscious acting is so bad. So, I was totally thrown off by the good theatrical acting in ZSAZSA - totally unexpected since Filipino films usually have bad acting.

The story and characters are all excellent as well. It follows the pattern of your basic Superman/Spiderman/Wonder Woman type story, only in this case, the main character, a homosexual crossdressing beautician loves a hot dude. And that hot dude loves the homosexual crossdressing beautician's super-hero alternate identity ZsaZsa (basically Wonder Woman). ZsaZsa is played by a hot Filipino pop star/actress Zsa Zsa Padilla (ironic that it's the same first name). And the villainess is played by hot Filipino pop star/actress Pops Fernandez. Both are not only extremely hot, but they are also in their early 40s! They certainly don't look old. They are both very Monica Belluci-hot. Eventhough the film has a lot of local humor, most of it can be understood by outsiders. And the humor isn't annoying. After all, the main characters are two homosexual crossdressers, so any of their flamboyant behavior is totally normal to their characters. I don't want to say too much about the story, but it's just a great concept: "What if a flamboyant homosexual person got super powers and turned into a hot super hero lady? How would he/she react with those superpowers and what would he/she do?" Just great stuff.

The movie has tons of action and great special effects for the movie's budget (pretend you are watching an old fantasy film from the 80s or 90s. If you are expecting perfect special effects, then you will be disappointed. The director and creative team did an excellent job with what they had. There is nothing wrong with old school special effects as long as they are used in a creative and charming way). This movie is crazy - ZsaZsa fights a giant frog, skeleton warriors, zombies, and hot amazonian alien babes!

ZSAZSA ZATURNNAH is more than an hour and a half long, but there is not one wasted shot in here. I hate movies with filler, and this film did not have one ounce of filler. It just chugged along quickly and stuck to the story. Very good screenwriting for Filipino films. I'm very impressed!

I forgot to add that the film is also a musical! There's about 5 or 6 songs in the film, which get better as the film progresses. The villains had two songs which were awesome catchy songs.

I've also seen a lot of Japanese movies that adapt comic books which are pretty bad. I was expecting a lot from Japan's live-action version of CUTIE HONEY and YATTERMAN, and those films just sucked. I never read the graphic novel ZsaZsa Zaturnnah (I'm still researching online to see if it's been translated into English) so I don't know if it's a good adaptation, but all I know was that the movie is awesome and it seemed like a great adaptation of a famous comic book.

So if you are intersted in seeing an excellent, well-done, action-packed, Wonder Woman-type superhero, musical gay Filipino film, then this film is for you!

I know of two DVD versions of the film:
I bought the Filipino NTSC Region 1 DVD which is non-anamorphic letterboxed and Dolby Surround audio. The video quality is good enough, but you can't zoom it in to fill your hdtv because it will pixilate. If you buy this version, you have to watch it with a black bar frame (horizontal and vertical black bars). The audio is good as well, with very active subwoofer. The English subtitles were excellent as well.
After watching and extremely enjoying this film, I discovered that there is also a Thai DVD version of this film which is Anamorphic widescreen, DD 5.1 Tagalog, and English subtitles. I ordered that Thai DVD online and I will update this thread as soon as I get that DVD in the mail. I've seen an online photo of the DVD back cover of the Thai DVD, which only states Thai audio and Thai subtitles. But Thai DVDs usually are wrong, especially when most Thai dvds usually include the original language of the movie. The anamorphic Thai DVD can easily be found on Ebay.

Excellent, excellent genre film, and the best Filipino film I've ever seen! I especially love the fact that USA would never release a film like this in mainstream movie theaters. Thailand and Philippines may not make the best movies in the world, but the fact that they respect gays and transexuals, in which they can become popular movie stars, pop stars, politicians in their society, that's very progressive and impressive! I'm disappointed with myself that I didn't hear about this movie and I only came across it accidently. This film came out in 2006 and I think the dvds came out in 2007.

DVD VIDEO: 6.5 (NTSC Region 1 version)
DVD AUDIO: 7 (NTSC Region 1 version)
EXTRAS: 5 (trailers, deleted scenes, alternate ending, background featurette on the original graphic novel, photos)


Here's a photo of the NTSC Region 1 DVD:

02-22-10, 06:00 AM
:thumbsup: to you toddly for the epic write-up! It's an entertaining read. I was amused by a respectable amount of what I saw in the trailer you posted. At the same time...it might be a little too quirky/oddball for my particular tastes.

The City of New York needs to appoint you to some sort of official post as maybe Cultural Ambassador - Movie Division...I think you know every ethnic neighborhood in the city...at least for those countries with any sort of film industry.

02-22-10, 08:37 AM
not only that but that Todd just goes out there and ventures to all parts of the city to get his fix.

02-22-10, 09:05 AM
Flixtime and BuddhaWake,
thanks guys! If the subway ride is less than an hour away, I will go seek it that same day! It's better that than waiting for it to take more than two weeks to come in the mail!

So far, I'm up to 12 ethnic neighborhoods in NYC where I can get the hook-up for dvds from: China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Phillippines, Russia, Poland, India, Romania, Turkey, Egypt, and Israel.

BuddhaWake, since you are in Philly, aren't there stores like that there too? There must be Chinese dvd stores in the Philly Chinatown, isn't there?

03-10-10, 12:19 PM
I received the Thai dvd in the mail the other day, and The Thai DVD is NOT anamorphic as it says on the backcover. It's letterboxed as well, so just stick with the NTSC Region 1 version for anyone that dares to buy this.

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