The hard hitting presentation from Duende Films and La Mega 97.9 was an introspective look into the story of a Dominican Drug Kingpin named Julian, played by Manny Perez. The film starts in the prison he is occupying with special privileges leading to his shooting and eventual death. In flashbacks, his story is told.
What we see are the consequences that are spawned from the proliferation of drugs in poor communities which often lead to greed, envy, and death. It was the cause of his father’s death in his childhood and fueled his thirst for revenge as he grew to be the Dominican Republic’s most dangerous kingpin. Even though the story takes place in the Dominican Republic, this is a familiar story in Latin America.
“This film is about corruption. But its not a local problem.”
Manny Perez pointed out,
“Its Mexico, its Colombia, its South America. It’s a problem everywhere.”
The film is unique in showing the all too human side of Julian, his loyalty to his mother and love for Laura, a woman who has suffered tragedy in her life but chooses to walk in love for her enemies in contrast to Julian, who avenges his father’s killers.
Even in prison, there is a short display of certificates showing on his wall. This was a man who took the time to educate himself. Based on the real kingpin Rolando Florian Felix, what is not known is that the man who fathered 15 children and killed his share of men also acquired 47 certificates and diplomas ranging from plumbing to law to chemistry. Its a view you won’t see in Hollywood as Latinos are stereotyped as “Scarfaces.”
“Films like this are not being made anymore.”
“Hollywood is not making these films. But if we support these films, Hollywood would take notice.”
The biography was possible as shown in the film through a 51 chapter biography that Julian worked on extensively during his incarceration. Needless to say, the hands that are dirtied by drug money is shown to not be narrowed down to a small minority but is in fact often supported by political figures who get their cuts. This film mirrors the real life story which exposed many and led many to curse the name of the Kingpin in death. Manny Perez was excellent in portrayal and Fernando Baez Mella direction and writing, along with Franklin Soto showed in the seamless interaction between the characters. Equally impresive was Luz Garcia, who played Laura, the woman who was the polar opposite of Julian in philosophy who served as his conscience but in the end could not save his life but influenced it in the end as his desire to read and educate himself spawned his biography taking him from just another dead dealer to a human being flawed by circumstances. El Rey de Najayo is a film we all should watch for the full story in all its grey shades.