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51 Reviews
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Must See!
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...
Published on March 26, 2002 by Edwin Tumlos

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Likable But Flawed
"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...
Published on August 15, 2005 by Chris Luallen


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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Must See!, March 26, 2002
By 
Edwin Tumlos (Chicago, IL USA) - See all my reviews
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great movie!, October 29, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Debut (DVD)
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 (Scottsdale, AZ) - See all my reviews
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
By 
This review is from: The Debut (DVD)
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
By 
Chris Luallen (Nashville, Tennessee) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Debut (DVD)
"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
This review is from: The Debut (DVD)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good stuff, October 9, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Debut (DVD)
"The Debut" was a great hit when it came out almost three years ago. I was wondering why it never came out on DVD until recently. Overall, the movie was really good. I'm glad that there was a movie made for us Filipino-Americans and the turn out at the theatres proved that we're all for these kinds of films that represents us. I give "The Debut" five stars for a little bit of every genre; there was some comedy, drama, and action. Pretty good movie! Go get your copy!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the BEST movies I've seen, August 24, 2001
By A Customer
I didn't know exactly how this movie was going to turn out, but I've read reviews from the West Coast and I was excited when I found out it was gonna play in my area. Aside from Dante Basco (and one of his brothers who is in some TV show), all the actors I've never heard of, though my parents have heard of Eddie Garcia (he's some acting legend in PI). This movie is a perfect example of how to get an incredibly moving and entertaining film without throwing in Hollywood A-list names. The film has a very positive message and can be enjoyed by everyone, not just Filipinos. I saw a whole bunch of other people in the theatre when I saw this, about a little less than half weren't Filipino. If this film is playing in your area, go see it before it moves to the next city!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Debut!, May 7, 2005
This review is from: The Debut (DVD)
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. Any Filipino, whether living in the Philippines or beyond its shores know that life events hold so much meaning to the family and to the community. What better way to tell the Fil-Am experience than through a debut where the family, in all its nakedness, seeking to legitimize itslef in society, unbeknowest, parades its "laundry", almost comically, before the community. "The Debut" remarkably shows the nakedness of the Filipino diaspora.

More than a cultural show, "The Debut" is the Fil-Ams lived experience constructed on film. All the tensions and angst brilliantly explodes in the fight scene between Dante and his childhood friend with the entire party getting into the fracas. However, it is the fine ensemble acting of Dante Basco, Joy Bisco, and Bernadette Balagtas that electrify each scene. Of course, the powerful presence of Philippine cinema's legendary Eddie Garcia, Gina Alajar, and Tirso Cruz III bring brilliance in scenes, however small and anecdotal.

"The Debut" is a small film. Whereas Lav Diaz epically brought to life the harsh brutality of the Fil-Am experience in "Batang West Side", Gene Cajayon brought to life the daily tensions of Fil-Am living and more importantly, the faith and the love that come out of those tensions.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great representation of Filipino-American life, September 20, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Debut (DVD)
"The Debut" truly depicts Filipino American life. The truth is, although hard to imagine, many Filipino teens feel like they should act "white" or "black," and you see that in the movie. All the Filipino inside jokes, the dialogue, everything is truly representative of the blue-collar Filipino American family. Maybe a little more dramatic than most, but still a great movie and one that finally centers around Filipino Americans.
The DVD is amazing. Worth your time and money. Support your fellow Filipinos!
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The Debut
The Debut by Gene Cajayon (DVD - 2003)
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