A Dangerous Life

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A Dangerous Life
Directed by Robert Markowitz
Produced by Hal McElroy
Written by David Williamson
Starring Gary Busey
Rebecca Gilling
(See Cast below)
Music by Brian May
Cinematography James Bartle
Edited by Michael Honey and Tony Kavanagh
Distributed by HBO
Release dates
27 November 1988
Running time
6 hours (HBO cable tv); 162 minutes (television)
Country Philippines
Language English

A Dangerous Life is a 1988 English-language Australian film about the final years of the Philippines under Ferdinand Marcos' rule, from the assassination of Benigno Aquino, Jr. in 1983 to the People Power EDSA Revolution in 1986 that ousted Marcos.

The film focuses on American TV journalist Tony O'Neil (Gary Busey), who finds himself in the middle of key events that lead to the downfall of the Marcos regime. Originally airing on television as a mini-series that ran for a total of six hours, the film was edited to 162 minutes for the home video release.[1][2]

Filming of the movie took place in Manila, Philippines, Colombo, Sri Lanka and Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne in Australia.


Fictional characters[edit]

  • Gary Busey - Tony O'Neil, a television journalist and news correspondent who is sent to Manila to cover Ninoy Aquino's return and chooses to stay longer after finding himself in the midst of a revolution against Marcos and decides to cover it for the news.
  • James Handy - Mike Heseltine
  • Roy Alvarez - Col. "Tiger" Tecson, a fictional colonel who is the colleague of Lt. Col. Kapunan and Col. Honasan. In real life, Alvarez has a physical resemblance to Col. Gringo Honasan and due to this, he was supposed to play Honasan in the film but the producers felt he was better suited as Angie's love interest.
  • Alexander Cortez - Raoul
  • Jaime Fabregas - Ben Balamo, a Manila newspaper company owner who makes articles on what is going on after the Aquino assassination. He befriends Tony in the film after their meeting.
  • Dina Bonnevie - Celie Balamo - Though uncredited in the film, her performance was highly praised by Philippine media.
  • Spanky Manikan - Ramon, Tony's Filipino cameraman, assistant, and friend
  • Arthur Sherman - Alex, the president of the news company Tony works for.
  • Betty Mae Piccio as a computer operator

Historical characters[edit]

  • Ruben Rustia - President Ferdinand Marcos, the sitting Philippine president in the film's setting. Though his attitudes in the film are similar to his real-life counterpart, his healthy living is the only inaccuracy in his portrayal than he has deteriorating health in real life.
  • Laurice Guillen - Corazon Aquino, the widow of Benigno Aquino Jr. who later becomes the president in the film's few minutes to ending. Despite Guillen's portrayal of Aquino being praised by Philippine media, it was also heavily criticized due to the inaccurate design of her prosthetic nose makeup.[citation needed]
  • Mervyn Samson - Gen. Fabian Ver, AFP Chief 0f Staff
  • Vic Diaz - Maj. Gen. Prospero Olivas, Chief of the Metropolitan Command (METROCOM)
  • Lea Cabusi - Kris Aquino, the youngest of the Aquino's
  • Freddie Santos - Butz Aquino, Ninoy's younger brother
  • Felindo Obach - Brig. Gen. Artemio Tadiar
  • Joe Gruta - Col. Antonio Sotelo,
  • Benigno Aquino, Jr. as himself (interviewed before his assassination). An uncredited actor plays him during the assassination scene

Production credits[edit]


Although the film was shot on location in the Philippines, some scenes were shot in Sri Lanka, mostly due to political and legal pressures from Juan Ponce Enrile who did not like the way he was represented (albeit as a fictional version as portrayed by Joonee Gamboa).


  1. ^ The New York Times - A Dangerous Life
  2. ^ Ed. Scott Murray, Australia on the Small Screen 1970-1995, Oxford Uni Press, 1996 p186

External links[edit]