Actor and producer Dante Basco has finally released Bangarang: The Hook Prequel online, a short film that explores the origin story of the lost boy's interim leader Rufio. Basco played Rufio in Steven Spielberg's Hook, a sequel of-sorts to J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan, which told the story of a grown-up Peter (Robin Williams) who had forgotten all about Neverland. In his absence, the mohawk-sporting Rufio came to lead the lost boys, until Captain James Hook (Dustin Hoffman) developed a plan to lure Peter back to Neverland. Last year marked the 25th anniversary of the movie's release, and while it wasn't an immediate hit with critics, it resonated with many young fans and remains a cult hit to this day.
Basco announced early last year that he would be leading the Kickstarter campaign to develop a short prequel to Hook, billed as: "the story about Rufio, before the mohawk, before Neverland, before he was The Pan". And now the wait is over, Bangarang: The Hook Prequel is available online.
Dante Basco released the film on his YouTube channel earlier today, after his successful Kickstarter campaign raised as much as $68,790. It's a surprisingly emotional short-story that manages to capture the storybook feel of Hook despite its limited budget. Set aside twenty minutes and check the film out for yourself in the space above.
One thing that's immediately apparent from Basco's unofficial prequel is that it was clearly a labor of love. With plenty of throwbacks to Hook and a heartfelt acceptance of the source material's earnest spirit, it's difficult not to adopt this as immediate canon - especially given how the character's iconic status with fans of the movie. Even without much back story, Rufio's character progression in Hook is heartbreaking, and now Bangarang has imbued the character with an exuberance that adds emotional depth to the cocky teenage angst that many youngsters came to admire in the 1990's.
Under the direction of Jonah Feingold, Bangarang displays a production value and excellent level of storytelling that belies its humble beginnings - from Basco's weary yet hopeful performance to the brief Easter egg calling back to Peter Pan's days as Peter Banning, attorney at law. It can't match up to the original's spectacular sets and cast, but Feingold and Basco have at least achieved something worthy of existing in the same world as Hook, if not the same neighborhood.
Hook was released in 1991 with an all-star cast including Julia Roberts, Dame Maggie Smith, and Bob Hoskins, and while it was an ensemble effort of hilarious character-acting, the late Robin Williams is truly the happy thought of the whole movie. While his tragic death isn't mentioned in the credits of the movie, his presence is still keenly felt in the imagery and story. Rufio's last words from the film: "I wish I had a dad like you", take on extra levels of meaning when we see that he was a boy about to lose himself in the foster care system long before he ever came to Neverland.
This isn't another Peter Pan story however, it's Rufio's, and it's both a fitting tribute to the iconic character and an emotional return to Neverland that still leaves some room to dream about the time between Bangarang: The Hook Prequel and Hook itself.
Source: Dante Basco