Ironically — and perhaps, intentionally — the only place you will truly find respect in Treb Monteras II and Njel de Mesa's "Respeto" is in its title. And that's exactly why it deserves all of yours.
In "Respeto", every character craves respect in some form, though perhaps none of them completely deserve it.
For the reluctant young drug runner Hendrix, respect means becoming the top rapper in his community's underground hip-hop scene, even if it means substituting tenacity and thievery for actual talent.
For the ornery old community physician Doc, respect means being left alone in his decades-old, deteriorating house, silently ruminating on the horrors of Martial Law that made him turn his back on humanity.
"Respeto" has only the barest of respect for character development; appropriate, considering the brevity of the time we get to spend with its major players. Some characters are too stubborn to grow; others don't live long enough to do so. Only the two protagonists, Hendrix and Doc, change as a result of their intertwining lives, and not even entirely for the better.
"Respeto" is, after all, very much grounded in reality, where sinners don't magically become saints at the two-hour mark in order to justify a happy conclusion.
It has no respect for structure or conventional storytelling. It lulls the audience into a false sense of security, allowing pieces to fall into place and methodically building up to a seemingly positive payoff that it ultimately, ruthlessly takes away. In that sense, "Respeto" transcends its theme and characters, truly becoming a blood-stained reflection of the state-sanctioned violence and police-instigated injustice in today's society.
The movie spits in the face of obliviousness, of privilege, of the ivory towers of those who deny historical horrors, simply because they did not experience them. "Respeto" is rough and unapologetic, especially to those who refuse to acknowledge the tragedies and terrors brought about by the iron-fisted rule of a smug, sanctimonious strongman.
It won't make you leave the theater smiling. It will not leave you with a happy ending. It will not make you smile, or fall in love, or want a sequel. If anything, it will make you wish that you'll never see anything like it in your lifetime, ever again, whether in fiction or in real life.
Because "Respeto" will break your heart. It will hit you in all the wrong ways, and in all the right ways, and in all the ways that hurt. It will shock, disgust, anger, baffle, and sadden you. It will grab you by the scruff of your neck, pull your head back, peel your eyelids back and pry your eyes open. It will make you feel 45 years' worth of pain and suffering, and it will not allow you to forget.
And at a time like this — a time when real-world respect seems to be in scant supply — that is exactly what we all need. — LA, GMA News