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The Debut (2001)

Dante Basco , Eddie Garcia , Gene Cajayon  |  R |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Dante Basco, Eddie Garcia, Jayson Schaal, Brian Card, Mindy Spence
  • Directors: Gene Cajayon
  • Writers: Gene Cajayon, John Manal Castro
  • Producers: Gene Cajayon, Dexter N. Adriano, Greg Spence, John Manal Castro, Lisa Onodera
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Tagalog, Chinese
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: September 9, 2003
  • Run Time: 88 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000AGQ6W
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,973 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Debut" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Digitally remastered soundtrack
  • Two in-depth documentaries: "The Making of The Debut" and The Little Film that Could: Touring the Country"
  • Three Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes covering the artists and music of the Debut, including an intimate profile of the Basco Brothers!
  • Original "Debut" short film directed by Gene Cajayon
  • "Diary of a Gangsta Sucka" short film directed by John Manal Castro
  • Six Deleted Scenes
  • Blooper Reel
  • Three TV Spots and the Theatrical Trailer
  • A special video dedication to all our Debut volunteers and supporters

Editorial Reviews

An award-winning English language film for the whole family, "the Debut" revolves around Ben Mercado (Dante Basco), a talented high school senior who has rejected his Filipino heritage. The long-simmering feud between Ben and his immigrant father Roland (Tirso Cruz III) threatens to boil over and ruin the 18th birthday party of Ben's sister Rose (Bernadette Balagtas). But to Ben's surprise, his sister's celebration challenges his sense of misplaced identity, and the way he regards his father and grandfather (Filipino film legend Eddie Garcia). In one night, Ben faces the true nature of his relationships with his family, his friends, and himself.

Filipino-American high school student Ben (Dante Mercado) works in a comic book shop to earn money to pay his way into Cal Arts. His father, a postman, is determined that his son--who has won a pre-med scholarship to UCLA--will become a doctor. The eighteenth birthday party of Ben's sister, Rose, sets off a comedic and touching series of events and family struggles that will in turn determine young Ben's future. This fresh independent production from Gene Cajayon presents a lighthearted and warm coming-of-age tale filtered through the eyes of an American subculture rarely seen on film.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Must See! March 26, 2002
Kudos to a terrific first film for Gene Cajayong, to the writers who captured the essence of Filipino-American life, and to the excellent cast who brought out the sub-textual subtleties of the story line. Although I had to wait nearly two years to finally view "the Debut" (thanks to Hollywood's lack of support), it was certainly well worth the wait. Rarely is a film created, acted, and about Filipino-Americans. So for those uninitiated to the culture and its people, this is a great "primer". For the Filipino-American community, this is a film we should support, and definitely worthy of our pride. This is the first (as far as I know) commercial Fil-Am film released in Chicago, I hope it's not the last!
The plot is nothing new, but the message and its delivery are pure "pinoy". The mix of fresh and seasoned talent keeps the energy going throughout the entire film. But what stood out to me the most are the scenes showcasing Filipino food, music, dance, and (I'm almost ashamed to admit) the fresh-off-the-boat (fob) humor. So to the general public, "This film is in English, has mass market appeal (i.e. very entertaining), and it doesn't hurt that it broadens one's horizon." To my fellow Filipino-Americans, "Welcome to our "debut"!" Go out to see it now because if we don't watch it in the theaters, it may never reach your local video store!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great movie! October 29, 2003
By A Customer
I am African-American, but have many Filipino friends. Iwas very impressed by this movie. It had a little bit of everything for everyone. The movie was done with great class and good detail. Best of luck to all of the production crew and cast members for future projects. It would be nice to see sequel to this film. Maybe call it, "Debuted - All Grown Up! I would also like to see a PG or PG-13 movie by the same creators.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Debut February 11, 2002
By Vani
Coming from Arizona, where the Filipino population is miniscule compared to California, I was ecstatic when I heard about "Debut". I thought that it depicted life as a Filipino-American to perfection. It addressed such issues as alienation and acceptance from both cultures and the struggle in defining one's identity. From the cars and DJs to the lechon and barrel man, this movie calls attention to so many aspects of life as a Filipino-American. It also does well in portraying the traditional Filipino family structure. Great movie!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Its about time Filipinos are represented! October 14, 2003
I've been visiting the Debut's official website for about a year now and I finally I was able to watch it on DVD (i live in Toronto and it never made it here on big screen). Was it worth the wait? Yes.
I enjoyed seeing Filipinos represented in a film that depicts a glimpse into Filipino-American life (and Canadian for that matter). Life imitates film and if there is no represenation of who you are on film, its quite hard to find what it is to be Filipino. This is a landmark film. Good job!
The so-so points... Somebody else wrote a review that I agree with. It seems like the film skimmed a lot of important issues but never really got deep into it. I loved the fact there was the native dance and singing (boy, that was great!), however scenes to establish the characters more would have been beneficial. A few more scenes such as the bathroom discussion between Ben and his father, or (what I believe to be the best scene) when the Lolo is scolding his son.. Great acting in that scene by great actors.
Don't get me wrong, I absolutely enjoyed the movie and was very impressed. Good work and kudos to all that had a part in making this film a success.
Lets do away with the Crab mentality and support Filipino talent in all areas. You with me?!
Now I have a new crush.. Bernadette Balagtas ;)
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Likable But Flawed August 15, 2005
"The Debut" revolves around the character of Ben Mercado, an intelligent and energetic young man who is determined to follow his dream of going to art school. Meanwhile, Ben's father wants him to pursue a medical career. During his sister's "debut" celebration Ben learns a greater appreciation for traditional Filipino culture as well coming to a better understanding with his father.

I'm an Anglo who also has an interest in learning about other cultures. So I was pleased to find this film made by and about Filipino-Americans, a group much too under represented in American cinema.

I enjoyed watching the dynamic interaction between the influences of modernism and tradition. I also found myself cheering for Ben to beat up the bully, get the girl, make up with his dad, etc.

Unfortunately, this movie was just not very well made in certain aspects. The screenwriting, especially the stilted dialogue, was a weakness. Also the characters were often portrayed as stereotypes rather than fully nuanced individuals. I believe this was director/writer Gene Cajayon's first feature film. He seemed to be trying too hard to make a movie with broad commercial appeal rather than just make the best possible movie.

This one is worth watching. But I will definitely be on the outlook for other Filipino movies, ones that reach the level of top quality cinema.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the Debut makes a great debut February 19, 2004
By A Customer
I am a Filipino American and i personally enjoyed this DVD. It featured great actors including Dante Basco (& his brothers, the Basco brothers), Eddie Garcia, Tierso Cruz III, and many others. This film does show the world a little bit of the Filipino- American life and how many Filipinos are living. This film took 8 years to create and that 8 years produced a very creative movie. This is the first time Filipinos see themselves on the big screen and I think that they probably liked what they saw. The Debut does show how important education is to their culture. The Philippines being a third-world country and their major export humans, it is true that many believe that the only way to be successful is if they become a lawyer or a doctor. I don't blame them because it's a very difficult life in the Philippines, trust me. Ben Mercado, the main character, is in this position. His father wants Ben to go to medical school, but Ben wants to go to a Fine Arts Academy. I won't give out the rest of the story but all I have left to say is that "The Debut" gives the restof theworld a taste of the Filipino lifesytle and culture. *****fIvE sTarS!!*****2 thumbs-up
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre
Joy bisco was annoying, but apart from that the movie was actually ok. Not as great as the previous reviews describe.
Published 1 month ago by JDS
5.0 out of 5 stars Good movie
I enjoyed this movie, this was one of the date movies I took my wife too before we got married. Has alot of well known Filipino actors and actresses. Will recommend.
Published 3 months ago by Francis I. Delapena
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Debut story
I purchased The Debut movie to show my family as we prepare for my daughter's upcoming debut (18th birthday). Read more
Published on April 14, 2009 by Seattle dad
5.0 out of 5 stars my daughter loves this movie
I bought this not for me, but for my daughter. She just loves this movie. I haven't watched it myself, but I gave it 5 stars since that's how much my daughter likes it.
Published on August 27, 2008 by miyawee
4.0 out of 5 stars A good Filipino Film
When I watched it I wasn't expecting much but did see a lot of filipino stereotypes in this movie and most of them were true. Read more
Published on August 8, 2007 by Nelson INC
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Debut film for Cajayon & best actor Derek Mercado
Recommended esp. for teenagers and
parents of Fil-Ams. Mix of WB & Filipino melodrama in style. Read more
Published on September 23, 2006 by Anon
4.0 out of 5 stars The Debut
Thoroughly enjoyed the movie - as part of the Philippine diaspora, I was delighted to rediscover parts of myself in the story and in the characters of the movie. Read more
Published on January 3, 2006 by Avesraggiana
3.0 out of 5 stars John Manal Castro's voice commentary about FOBs is the same as the...
Writer John Manal Castro's voice commentary with Jean Cajayon about FOBs (Fresh Of the Boat) shows his hypocrisy. Read more
Published on September 8, 2005 by observer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Debut!
I saw the film on DVD. As a Filipino living in Manila, it was illuminating to see the Fil-Am experience encaspulated in a single event---a debut. Read more
Published on May 7, 2005 by Earl Jimenez
1.0 out of 5 stars One step foward or three steps back
Unlike many Asian Americans, who support anything that is produced by another Asian, This is such a poor product. Believe me, I want the movie to be "good", but it isn't. Read more
Published on July 15, 2004
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