Jaguar is Lino Brocka's evocation of a John Garfield film noir; it could be subtitled “They Made Me a Criminal.” Brocka cast his favorite actor Phillip Salvador as Jaguar (the title comes from Filipino slang for “guard”), a naive, brawny slum kid who supports his sister and mother by working as a security guard in a high-class apartment house. Desperate to bust out of his poverty, he becomes the personal bodyguard for a wealthy gang boss, the publisher of a string of pornographic magazines and comic books. He soon develops a dangerous yen for the boss's actress-girlfriend (Amy Austria), who returns his affections. When he dutifully kills a rival gangster, however, Jaguar is forsaken by all. Brocka skillfully transforms the elements of a gangster thriller into an unsentimental, uncompromising account of the corruption and dehumanizing poverty that surround his hero; like Julio in Manila: In the Claws of Darkness (PFA, October 18), this dead-end kid learns a lesson, and for him, understanding equals anger.

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