Jean Garcia with Watch Me Kill (WMK) director Tyrone Acierto and with Junyka Santarin (in a scene from the movie)
Jean plays killer in debut as action star
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - September 13, 2019 - 12:00am

The movie’s tagline is at once disturbing and intriguing: Life is precious. Never kill for free.

The first question that probably pops in anybody’s mind: Is the movie’s producer-director courting a big howl not just from human-rights advocates but from pro-life groups?

The answer may come when Watch Me Kill (WMK) is shown as one of the 10 official entries in the nationwide third Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP) from Sept. 13 to 19.

From the trailer alone, you can see that Jean Garcia is determined to prove that, like Cristine Reyes and Anne Curtis (in Viva Films’ Maria and BuyBust respectively, both now streaming on Netflix), she can be credible as an action star as she is as a bida-kontrabida.

Directed by Tyrone Acierto, a relatively new name in the industry, WMK (grade B by the Cinema Evaluation Board) is about a ruthless assassin (Jean as Luciana) whose plan is interrupted when she discovers that the man she needs to kill has more to hide than expected. Her life unravels as she juggles her new priorities with her inner demons. Set in a world where violence rules over virtue, Luciana must face the hardest reality — is she the real danger or is it the monsters that control the criminal underworld?

“I realized that it’s tough to be a bida in an action movie,” confessed Jean who, in her previous forays into the action genre, was cast as no more than an “ornament” to the male lead. “In WMK, I did the action scenes and the stunts. I was deglamorized for the role so throughout the shoot, I wore only one pair of boots and two shirts, palit-palit. And I had no make-up on. I had to undergo two weeks of rigid training in fight routines and how to use not only a pistol but also a shotgun and a machine gun.”

Since she described the movie as “buwis buhay” (life threatening), what made Jean accept the offer?

In WMK, Jay Manalo plays the man who pays for the ‘demolition’ job

“The role is something new, one that I’ve never done before,” said Jean, a lola at 50 (last Aug. 22) of two grandchildren courtesy of her daughter Jennica Garcia (and husband Alwyn Uytingco). “Playing a cold-blooded hired killer is, for me, out of the box so I might as well try it. But,” she hastened to clarify, “the movie ends on a redeeming moral value although I won’t reveal how.”

It’s also the chance to work with a new director that got Jean’s nod.

“Direk Tyrone is a meticulous worker,” Jean found out. “He’s a perfectionist. We would rehearse and research for a scene and wouldn’t stop until he got what he wanted. For a big scene where I had to drive an old jeep, we rehearsed from morning till late afternoon and it wouldn’t even last more than three minutes onscreen.”

Tyrone was born and raised in the Philippines. He graduated from Columbia College Chicago (CCC). After directing short films, he decided to do The Grave Bandits, an adventure-comedy zombie movie that, nevertheless its small budget, was sold in four territories after its release in Asia and has won several awards including Best Director and Best Feature Film in the New Wave category of the 2012 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF). He used the classic 16mm-negative film camera for WMK.

Opening nationwide today, the movie also stars Jay Manalo (as the man who pays for the “demolition” job), Althea Vega and Junyka Santarin (as Aurora, Luciana’s captive) who got her big break as the lead actress in Musmos Na Sumibol sa Gubat ng Digma and Children of the River, both finalists in the 2018 and 2019 Cinemalaya, respectively.

(E-mail reactions at For more updates, photos and videos, visit or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

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