The films of Mike de Leon are some of the most politically charged in the industry.
Who would forget the brave Sister Stella L., a nun who suddenly found her way in labor strikes after finding out the government’s anti-poor behavior? There’s also Batch ’81, which tackled the violent culture of fraternities and mirrored the political regime of the Marcos era. Recently, de Leon also released politically awakening Citizen Jake and “Kangkungan,“ a five-minute short film that lays out what has drastically happened in the last three years under Duterte’s presidency.
Now, de Leon has dropped yet another bomb in the form of “Mr. Li.“ An almost eight-minute film, “Mr. Li” is a man de Leon introduces at the first part of the story. During the filmmaker’s visit to China in 2011, he personally encountered the man singing “Sailing The Seas Depends on the Helmsman,” a revolutionary song in China that might reflect his reverence to Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Communist Party of China from 1949-1976.
“Mr. Li“ then progresses as a clever compilation documentary that explains separate histories of China and the Philippines, and how our country suddenly found itself tied with the Chinese route, all credits to President Duterte’s “eagerness” to be a part of it. The feeling’s so bad, even we can already feel it. “I love Xi Jinping,” Duterte’s fanatic moment over China’s leader flashes. As awfully comedic the film is, it then transitions to a question, “but does Xi Jinping love him back?” Enter the frame, Bruce Lee.
“Mr. Li“ is made in collaboration with Tom Estrera III and Carlos Fajarda. You can watch it here: