The movie tells the story of the first true hero of the Philippines, Lapulapu, who defeated Magellan's men at the Battle of Mactan on April 27, 1521. Unfortunately this movie's portrayal of Lapulapu is about as historically authentic as the statue of him which now stands on Mactan Island (which is to say, not authentic at all). The movie opens with a battle scene straight out of the movie Braveheart. Two armies oppose each other on a beach in Mactan Island. One army is under the command of Lapulapu who is the king (i.e., the rajah) of Mactan. The other is under the command of Rajah Humabon who is the king of neighboring Cebu. The two armies charge each other and there follows a chaotic scene with lots of sword fighting but, strangely enough, little blood spilt. One almost expects Mel Gibson with face painted blue to pop out and give an inspirational speech to his troops. The sound quality of the sword play is so patently bad as to be absurd. It sounds more like a metal chain being banged against a tin plate (which of course, is probably what we're actually hearing).
Needless to say, the forces of Humabon are soundly defeated and Rajah Humabon himself escapes with a gash to the stomach delivered by Lapulapu himself. Humabon's forces retreat in rickety boats which appear to be lacking in seaworthiness. They regroup in Cebu and mourn their bad fortune. The historical source for this supposed battle is never made clear, but this won't be the last time the director takes liberties with the historical facts. Lapulapu's forces spend the night resting from their exertions during the battle and tending to the wounded. Lito Lapid, who plays Lapulapu, spends much of the movie posing for the cameras and looking noble. This is a common mistake that mediocre directors make when portraying historical figures. They somehow imagine that these folks spent all of their time making speeches and strutting a pose.
Anyway, Lapulapu soon falls for Bulakna and proposes marriage, although why a middle aged king doesn't already have a wife is never explained. The fact that Filipino datus of that era maintained harems of wives is conveniently glossed over. The middle part of the movie is a never ending series of plots against Lapulapu hatched by Humabon and his faithful lackey, Datu Zula. Needless to say, Lapulapu foils these plots at every turn. I was beginning to wonder if Magellan would ever show up, but he eventually does about two thirds of the way through the movie. The effects budget in this movie is so low that they can't even afford to show a complete sailing ship. Instead, they show close-ups of what is obviously a mockup of Magellan's ship. The historical fact that Magellan sailed into Cebu harbor with three ships is conveniently ignored. Only one ship is ever shown.
At first Humabon is suspicious of his visitors but he soon comes up with a plan on how to use the Spaniards against his bitter enemy, Lapulapu. Humabon agrees to become a Christian along with all of his followers. He also agrees to submit to the authority of the King of Spain. In passing, Humabon mentions to Magellan that there is a datu on the island of Mactan who refuses to submit to Spanish rule. By the way, the director has Humabon, Lapulapu, etc. speaking in Tagalog, a language which the actual historical figures never spoke (they spoke Cebuano). This is perhaps forgivable since the director assumes a Tagalog speaking audience. The director also has the Spaniards speaking Spanish but he provides no Tagalog subtitles. One wonders what fraction of Tagalog speakers can understand Spanish? It must be a very low percentage.
Anyway, Magellan soon hits on a scheme to attack Lapulapu on Mactan. Antonio Pigafetta who chronicled the battle (see my review of Magellan's Voyage) provides us with an excellent account of the battle. Unfortunately the director made a travesty of Pigafetta's account. He has Magellan and his men doing most of the fighting on the beach and not in the surf where the real battle took place. Of course, he has Magellan personally fighting Lapulapu which never happened. And just to show you how ridiculous the battle scene is, at one point Lapulapu is fighting Magellan with a log. Of course Lapulapu eventually slays Magellan and the Spaniards retreat. Pigafetta tells us that the Spanish lost just eight men killed, but in the movie dozens upon dozens of Spanish corpses litter the beach. Pigafetta tells us that the forces of Lapulapu poured a constant rain of arrows and javelins down on the luckless Spaniards. But in the movie not a spear or arrow is to be seen. Instead, the actors fight against one another with swords. In short, the battle scene lacks any historical veracity.
And to top off this ridiculous movie, at the end of the movie the director shows Lapulapu being captured by his enemies and being quartered (a method of execution unknown to the Cebuanos of that time). Rajah Humabon expresses regret over Lapulapu's death. Yeah, right! What a bunch of gunk!
This is a terrible movie. I give it only one star but it probably doesn't even deserve that. You should avoid this movie like the plague. If you want to really know what happened at the Battle of Mactan then you should read Pigafetta's excellent book.