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Read Free: ‘Reel Justice: Filipino Action Movies in a Time of Killing’

on . Posted in News @ UP Asian Center

The Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia has published an essay, “Reel Justice: Filipino Action Movies in a Time of Killing’ by Janus Isaac Nolasco, University Researcher at the UP Asian Center. Published in the December issue and in the Young Academic Voice section, Reel Justice draws some parallels between the drug-related extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, and Filipino Action Movies. 

Below are some excerpts from the essay:

On Violence and Justice System

Both action films and the kill-for-justice cases resonate in, and resolve, a society that many Filipinos are all too familiar with: a lack, if not absence, of a fair and effective criminal justice system; and they mirror the dominant logic, not of due process or democracy, but of force and violence.

The (In)Justice of Extrajudicial Killings

Swift and simple, violence streamlines the delivery of justice, and offers a solution to the problems bedevilling the justice system. But the solution is also a part of the problem it seeks to address. It’s a crime in response to another (alleged) crime. It traps Filipinos in a never-ending cycle of violence, where the heroes — in movies and in real life — are villains too, both of whom have blood on their hands.

Popular Culture and Politics

Filipino Action Movies were a popular medium through which many Filipinos grappled with and resolved a problem: of how justice can be obtained when due process does not work, especially for the poor and marginalized. How does one get justice when its very agents are in cahoots with the criminals? What if the law enforcer and the criminal are one?

Mr. Janus Isaac Nolasco is University Researcher at the Asian Center, University of the Philippines Diliman, and is Managing Editor of Asian Studies: Journal of Critical Perspectives on Asia. His essays and reviews have appeared in The Manila Review, in the Inquirer, and in several academic publications. He is an alumnus of the UP Asian Center and specialized on Western Asia for his graduate degree. His research interests include literature, critical theory, cultural studies, Filipino migration, and Islamic history, philosophy and society.


The UP Asian Center offers M.A. degrees in Asian Studies with four fields of specialization: Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and West Asia. The Center also has an M.A. program in Philippine Studies that allows students to major in Philippine society and culture, Philippine foreign relations, or Philippine development studies. The Center offers a Ph.D. program in Philippine Studies in conjunction with the College of Arts and Letters and the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy. Get an overview of these programs. The Asian Center also houses a peer-reviewed, open-access journal, Asian Studies: Journal of Critical Perspectives on Asia. It has published several books and monographs, andxhosts or organizes various lectures and conferences.

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