JUST in time for this year’s celebration of Filipino American History Month (FAHM), Fil-Am’s award-winning independent comedy feature, “Lumpia with a Vengeance” is set to hit major theaters nationwide.
“Lumpia with a Vengeance” is a representation of the unique character, heritage and culture of Filipinos rolled into one like a wrapped “lumpia,” said the film’s producer and director Patricio Ginelsa, in an interview with the Asian newspaper.
Lumpia, the egg roll filled with a savory mix of ground pork, beef and vegetables, is an all-time favorite at Filipino gatherings and a snack that appeals to all ages.
The film received endorsement from the Philippine American National Historical Society (FANHS), which officially co-presents the film nationally.
“‘Lumpia with a Vengeance’ is proud to be frankly Filipino American and doesn’t apologize or need to explain why. It’s a glimpse not just of our culture, but also of our nuances, of our humor and, more importantly, our story,” Ginelsa said, during a recent special screening at the Ray Stark Theater at the University of Southern California, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in film production. .
When asked how they came up with the film’s title, Ginelsa said, “While it’s obviously made for laughs, the hero taking on such an odd icon as his superhero symbol is common in the world of comic.”
“One of the most popular superheroes dresses up as a bat while another takes on the spider symbol. So why not lumpia? It’s the most iconic food in the Filipino community. It’s a travesty, but the idea of weaponizing the lumpia as a source of pride and cultural branding is not fictitious,” he added.
True to its catchy and funny title, Ginelsa said the film is made to be enjoyed by moviegoers – who, after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic – deserve a good laugh.
“I hope people will enjoy it and have fun. We need a laugh these days, just to have fun. I think a lot of us were so quarantined together. What a great time to watching a big screen and just enjoying each other’s company. We hope you enjoy our film as much as we enjoyed making it. I love this lumpia!” he said.
“Lumpia with a Vengeance” is a sequel to the low-budget 2003 local film “Lumpia” (also directed by Ginelsa), set in the late 90s at the fictional Fogtown High School. The plot of the original film centers on a group of high school friends who are the butt of teasing by thugs. To defend themselves from these thugs, they rely on the protection of a hero named the Silent Avenger, whose powers come from lumpia.
Ginelsa recalled that the first film became a surprise hit and received positive reviews. After 17 years, a sequel to the indie classic has been made with a new spring roll-wielding hero, dressed in a Filipino Barong Tagalog national costume, called the Lumpia man.
“It was during the 10th anniversary of the first ‘Lumpia’ sequel in 2013 that we decided to fund the sequel to see if there was still an appetite,” Ginelsa said. “And lo and behold, we were able to raise $50,000 with over 800 backers.”
The director is also associate producer of the award-winning film “The Debut” released in 2000.
In the latest crowdfunded action-comedy, the lumpia-slinging hero returns to Fogtown, America’s version of Manila. Much like Metropolis and Gotham City are the comic book counterparts of New York, Fogtown is inspired by the director’s hometown of Daly City, California, which is predominantly Filipino in ethnicity.
The plot of this new sequel now features a female lead, teenage Rachel, a bridesmaid at her own parents’ wedding, who finds herself embroiled in a crime syndicate selling drugs disguised as food. She teams up with Lumpia Man (also known as Kuya) to stop a mysterious crime boss from destroying her town and her parents’ dream wedding.
Although “Lumpia with a Vengeance” took about seven long years to complete, it made history at San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC), the world’s biggest pop culture event, last July. when it was massively welcomed by more than 400 people. participants in its panel.
And after making its world premiere at the 40th annual Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF), “Lumpia with a Vengeance” coveted the HIFF Audience Award for Best Narrative.
Filmed primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area, the special effects-laden action-comedy stars Mark Munoz (Former UFC Champion), April Absynth (STARZ Blindspotting), Katrina Dimaranan (Miss Philippines Universe Tourism 2021), Darion Basco (“The Debut”), Danny Trejo (“Machete”), Earl Baylon (Netflix “Tomb Raider”) and a talented ensemble including the original film’s cast, Francis Custodio and Edward Baon.
“We used our network to include so many notable Fil-Am stars and professionals in front of and behind the camera to showcase the strength of talent in our community. So we used that same playbook when creating “Lumpia with a Vengeance,” a crazy comic book action-comedy starring an awesome Fil-Am model as the action leader. It has all the potential ingredients needed to capture a universal audience while also being an empowering experience for those who want to see more like-minded people in lead roles,” Ginelsa said.
He also noted the bayanihan spirit that fans have done through in-kind donations or even donating their talent in front of the camera as background actors or behind the scenes as production assistants or even post-production VFX (visual special effects) artists.
“I like to think that we captured that authentic, risky, independent spirit of filmmaking. Despite all the challenges and financial hardships, we always looked back and relied on our backers to motivate us and push us to cross the line. finish line. So here we are, ready to present and represent our delicious film! It took longer than expected, but we felt a huge responsibility to deliver a feature film worthy of their support,” he said. .
He added: “From the very night it launched, ‘Lumpia with a Vengeance’ was established as a fun platform from which the community could contribute, learn and play. And eventually, it all came together. brought together because we believed in what we were doing, knowing that we had an eager audience waiting for its release.
According to Ginelsa, “Lumpia with a Vengeance” may be an action-comedy on the surface, but at its heart it’s a community film developed, funded and starring the community. And it uses the one iconic food that defines our community – LUMPIA! »
The film is also co-produced by AJ Calomay, Lawrence Iriarte, Lisa Chong, Jeff Lam and Rey Cuerdo.
As for the sequel to the “Lumpia” series, Ginelsa said there might be another movie, but that will depend on the audience’s response.
“Again, I want to send it back to the community, if they want to see [the third movie] faster. I already have a cool story I want to tell. Part 3 needs to be bigger than Part 2. It needs to be bigger in scope and budget,” he said.
Additionally, the film created its own comic book series, also funded by its supporters.
Ginelsa, who has a lifelong obsession with comics, said the “Lumpia with a Vengeance” comics independently published by Kid Heroes Productions allowed the creators to expand the film’s story and universe with art. from the same artists and illustrators who contributed to the actual film.
“Variant covers and contributions from legendary creators such as Whilce Portacio (X-Men, Wetworks) and other upcoming artists have resulted in limited editions that come with each screening,” he added.
The film is tentatively set to premiere in select theaters nationwide on October 7 (New York, Queens, Dublin, Fairfield, Los Angeles, North Hollywood and Cerritos); October 14 (Las Vegas, Jacksonville, Eugene, Seattle, Washington DC, Lansing, Honolulu, Pearl City, Kapolei, Chicago, Irvine, Riverside, Virginia Beach, Boston, West Covina, Sacramento, Oceanside; October 21 (New Orleans, Philadelphia , Phoenix, Anchorage, Stockton, Ontario, Tampa, Guam, Houston).Tickets through the Virtual Box Office are available now. For the latest updated box office and theater times, visit LUMPIAMOVIE.COM.