DALY CITY, Calif. — In a crowdfunded action-comedy, the lumpia-wielding avenger resurfaces in Fogtown, teaming up with high school girl Rachel to stop a crime syndicate selling drugs disguised as food.
“No one will have that!” It’s too Filipino! That’s what one unlucky high schooler Rachel (April Absynth) says when she explains her crime-fighting name: Ate Hero is a pun on generational honorifics.
Director Patricio Ginelsa’s exuberant second feature is very Filipino indeed, but as with lumpia, everyone will want seconds.
In reality, Lumpia with a vengeance is a belated sequel to Ginelsa’s low-budget action comedy Lumpia (2003)which shows students struggling with bullies at a predominantly Filipino high school in the San Francisco Bay Area.
With a larger budget and exuberant pop art sheen, Ginelsa continues her high school education 18 years later, in comic book film form.
Vengeance follows a vigilante known as Lumpia Man (Mark Muñoz), who tries to protect his reputation from a criminal gang that sells drug-based versions of the Filipino egg roll that gives him his name.
Ginelsa makes a running joke about mistaken dining identity: News reports initially claim murder victims were found with taquitos coming out of their mouths, but the Filipino mayor of Fogtown clarifies the distinction for a news conference packed with reporters who don’t still don’t understand. .
Comic book graphics introduce each character and punctuate fight scenes, and the sight of a fat, delicious lumpia wielding like a deadly weapon might seem silly. But despite this superficial glitz, food is a powerful metaphor. When used for good, it unites people of different cultures; mixed with drugs, it’s a corruption of culture.
Even without that subtext, Vengeance is a wild ride, with Muñoz, a veteran mixed martial arts fighter, as a strong and mostly silent presence.
Watch genre veteran Danny Trejo as a rival drug lord.
For more information on Lumpia with a Vengeance, Click here.