Dec 23
MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! by Jose N. Carreon  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Fri, Dec 23, 2005


Seven Tagalog films on Christmas and three more on New Year’s Day sum up the viewing entertainment fare for the holiday season. This early, it can be predicted that the front-runners in the box-office derby are the four films which are expected to be patronized by children and the younger set. These are Enteng Kabisote 2 (Okay Ka, Fairy Ko…The Legend Continues), Exodus (Tales of the Enchanted Kingdom ), Mulawin and Shake, Rattle & Roll 7 . The children audience factor can never be discounted and is crucial in this annual December filmfest.

Bookers and knowledgeable marketing and promotion experts predict a three-way race among Enteng, Exodus and Mulawin , with Shake 7 a dark horse, though another horror-suspense thriller, Kutob , might hinder the scare-trilogy from Regal Entertainment from maximizing its box-office potential.

The frontrunners are all fantasy films. Enteng is a comedy-fantasy with Vic Sotto while Exodus (with Sen. Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla) and Mulawin (the Richard- Angel tandem) are both action fantasy films. Shake 7 and Kutob will be targeting the horror-suspense-thriller genre crowd.

Two are adult-comedy films, Ako Legal Wife and Mourning Girls , which both deal with polygamous male lead characters—the dead Ricky Davao in Mourning and the master-of-concubinage Jay Manalo in Ako . These will cater to mature female audiences, and possibly teenagers.

Two action films—the hard action Terrorist Hunter and the action-comedy Lagot Ka sa Kuya Ko —will rely on the male action crowd for their holiday audience.

Blue Moon seems to be the genuine drama film though some of its stars are the current young heartthrobs in the reel and real love triangle of Jennylyn Mercado, Mark Herras and Pauleen Luna.

A question commonly asked this writer at this time—barely days before the Christmas Day Sunday opening—redounds to this: Ano bang una kong papanoorin? It is a good thing that when I retorted with a blunt: Bakit? Isa lang bang papanoorin mo?, most of them shake their heads, beaming.

I usually advised them to watch the trailers on television then make their decision. But I had this postscript: Mas mabuti pa kaya, tanungin niyong mga anak niyo kung anong gusto nilang panoorin.

Without any means to gauge the entries—a preview or a post-production peek—I settled on reading available storylines about the entries which were available from two of the members of the MMFFP 2005 screening committee who selected the entries—six based on scripts and four based on finished products.

This might help but I still think that asking the kids what to see first is the most prudent and effective way of deciding what cinema you have to drag the family to. Hereunder are the ten entries and their capsule-storylines:

— Ako Legal Wife of Regal Entertainment Inc., directed by Joel Lamangan and written by Roy Iglesias. With a sub-title that reads Mano Po 4?, this is certainly a comedy, a spoof or a satire. Chinoy Elton Chong (Jay Manalo) and his Chinoy wife Chona (Zsa Zsa Padilla), whose marriage was arranged by their parents some 20 years ago, are blessed with three children and are obviously living happily, just like in a fairy tale. This ideal setup is shattered when Chona discovers that Elton has a mistress in the person of Chinese Visayan Patty (Cherrie Pie Picache). She is shocked to realize that Elton and Patty have a son who is almost of the same age as one of her children. She is more shocked when she finds out that Patty’s son is the friend of her children. The wife is the last to know syndrome hits Chona like a thunderbolt. She becomes more paranoid when she is told that Elton’s mistress actually lives in a posh condominium unit. Chona infiltrates this condo unit like a SWAT operative and learns that Elton is actually keeping another mistress in the place. This is Gloria (Ruffa Mae Quinto). It is not only a love triangle but a square. Chona fights back and her best strategy is to make herself look younger and sexier, resorting to Botox injections, liposuction, breast augmentation and the whole rigmarole. From hereon, desperate wife and scheming mistresses are caught in a fierce struggle to force Elton to decide in their favor. Will Elton find the right formula to enable him to love three women simultaneously?

— Enteng Kabisote 2 (Okay Ka, Fairy Ko…The Legend Continues) of Octoarts Films and M-Zet TV Production Inc., directed by Tony Reyes and written by Isabel de Rosa, Tony Reyes & Nikki Arriola. As Enteng (Vic Sotto) and Faye (Kristine Hermosa) await their second child, Faye’s mother Magenta (Alice Dixson) is troubled by nightmares that the engkantadas’ kingdom will soon be destroyed. She, thus, contacts her sisters Azul (Tony Rose Gayda) and Verde (Melanie Marquez). Their arch-enemy Satana (Bing Loyzaga), presumed dead at the end of Enteng Kabisote 1, has been restored to life by her evil minions. When Satana leads an invasion of Engkantasia, a wounded Magenta commands Enteng, Faye, Azul and Verde to search for the Medalyon ng Kabutihan which will rehabilitate the shattered kingdom. The Medalyon was divided into four and given to the four sisters–Magenta, Verde, Azul and Amarillo . Led by Enteng, the fairy sisters are able to recover three parts of the Medalyon. But the part that belongs to Amarillo remains missing. A startling twist reveals who Amarillo is. All’s well that ends well.

— Exodus (Tales from the Enchanted Kingdom) of Imus Productions Inc. and Reality Entertainment Inc., directed by Erik Matti and written by Dwight Gaston. In a mythic world, mankind is suddenly threatened outright subjugation by an evil king, Haring Bagulbol (Jay-R), who rules his minions of fearsome creatures. Only one human city, Bantayan, has survived the onslaught of the evil king. Faced with extinction, a city leader (Paolo Bediones), dispatches Exodus (Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr.) to journey to the Enchanted Land to track down and seek the help of five elementals or engkantados. Exodus knows that only with the help of these five elementals will he be able to confront Haring Bagulbol and shatter his evil plans to smithereens. Capturing the five elementals (earth, fire, wind, water and spirit) proves hazardous and tricky. They include Tayho (Benjie Paras), the earth elemental, a centaur; Silab (BJ ‘Tolits’ Forbes), a creature made of fire, or santelmo; Bangkila (Aubrey miles), the air elemental, an aswang who has the wings of a bat, the face of an angel and the temper of the devil; and Lin-ay (Iya Villania), the water elemental, a diwata who has control over water and plant life. But to Exodus’ chagrin, he has only accounted for four of the five engkantados. And the sad truth is that he needs the five elementals intact as one force to wage a successful war against Haring Bagulbol. In what magic kingdom will he track down the spirit elemental?

— Kutob of Canary Films productions, written & directed by Jose Javier Reyes. A fortune-teller warns Erica (Rica Peralejo) of danger lurking ahead. Shortly afterwards, she has an emotional confrontation with her boyfriend Carlo (Ryan Agoncillo) that ends in a breakup. In another heated argument with Carlo, a young man, Lemuel (Marvin Agustin), comes to Erica’s aid. She is grateful to Lemuel for this incident but the latter misinterprets Erica’s concern and warmth, believing that she is in love with him. Lemuel, a loner who lives under the influence of an old maid aunt, Guada (Liza Lorena), persists in his pursuit of Erica which finally becomes an obsession. Erica feels that Lemuel is now monitoring and controlling her life. Thus, when Carlo tries to reconcile with his former girlfriend, Erica decides to cut off all ties with Lemuel. A devastated Lemuel decides to win back Erica in the only violent and brutal way he knows and is capable of while going after her friends who are instrumental in nipping their relationship in the bud. Erica realizes that the fortune-teller’s words are becoming real, true and palpable.

— Mulawin of GMA Network Films Inc. and Regal Entertainment Inc, directed by Dominic Zapata and Mark Reyes and written by Don Michael Perez. The ruler of the Ravenas, Ravenum, has been resurrected. A young man, Daniel (Richard Gutierrez) is washed ashore and nursed back to health by a couple. Daniel is really Aguiluz. His memory comes to him clear and he realizes that Alwina (Angel Locsin) is still missing after they were shipwrecked. They trace Alwina who doesn’t remember anything. She is about to marry Gabriel (Dennis Trillo), Aguiluz’s brother. A force of Ravenas attacks the church. Aguiluz and Alwina realize that the Mulawins are endangered. Aguiluz, Alwina and Gabriel enlist the help of the Tres Aves in their mission to help the Mulawins. The final confrontation unfolds between the Mulawins and the Ravenas who have rebuilt their fortress Halconia and resurrected the dragon Buwarka while holding captive the wise old Mulawin ruler Dakila (Eddie Gutierrez).

— Shake, Rattle & Roll 7 of Regal Entertainment Inc., directed by Uro Q. dela Cruz, Rico Maria Ilarde and Richard Somes and written by Aloy Adlawan & John Roque. This horror trilogy includes: Poso where Ai-Ai de las Alas plays the role of a fake occultist who is forced out of her retirement when a wealthy millionaire (Gloria Romero) inveigles her with a huge amount of money to contact or communicate with her dead grandson. With her assistants (Rainer Castillo, Janine Desiderio and Biboy Ramirez), she takes on this job, not knowing they are putting their lives on the line. Aquarium where a family (Ogie Alcasid, Ara Mina & their son Paul Salas) moves into a new condomium unit. The little boy unleashes an evil creature that lurks in an aquarium left behind by the previous tenants. Lihim ng San Joaquin where a husband (Mark Anthony Fernandez) and his pregnant wife (Tanya Garcia) arrive in a small town where babies have been mysteriously killed, apparently by wild animals. The couple is not aware that their neighbors are actually aswangs with an insatiable hunger for newborn infants.

— Terrorist Hunter of Double Impact Films, directed by Val Iglesias and written by Jorge Isaac. Capt. Samson (Eddie Garcia) leads a highly-trained group of five men and a woman, called the Suicide Force. They are summoned by Gen. Cruz (Lito Legaspi) to undertake a perilous and dangerous mission: to rescue the daughter of the general who was kidnapped by a terrorist group led by Malic (Dennis Roldan). Matching wits against Malic, Samson’s tactical force has its ups and downs, but overpowers the terrorists in the end.

— Blue Moon of Regal Entertainment Inc., directed by Joel Lamangan and written by Allan Tijamo. In Boston , Massachusetts , an elderly Filipina, Corazon (Boots Anson-Roa), is deep into writing letters to every man named Manuel Pineda listed in the Philippine telephone directory. In the Philippines , the Manuel Pineda (Eddie Garcia) whom Corazon is trying to contact, is seeking the help of his son Rod (Christopher de Leon) and grandson Kyle (Dennis Trillo) to search for Corazon as he has been diagnosed with cancer and has a few months to live. The search becomes more perplex when Rod and Kyle discover that there had been two Corazons in Manuel’s past—the Corazon whom Manuel married after World War II (Rod’s mother) and a Corazon who was Manuel’s first love in 1938. Through flashbacks, things clear up and the poignant search continues as Manuel tries to ward off death before his search is successfully over.

— Lagot Ka sa Kuya Ko of Rockettes Productions, directed by Ronn-Rick and written by Ronnie Ricketts. Alex (Ronnie Ricketts) is a taxi driver who has another underground personality—being a streetfighter. Alex lives alone after his father’s death though he knows that his mother is in the States. One night, his rapper friend Boogie (Dinky Doo) introduces him to a young woman, Sarah (Nadine Samonte). Alex adjusts to the liberated ways of Sarah who grew up in the States. While visiting Sarah one night, Alex gets entangled with Zandro (Carlos Morales) who turns out to be a hired gun. In an encounter, Carlos shoots Alex but friends are able to help him. Michelle (Mariz Ricketts) volunteers to bring Alex to her place in the province where he can recuperate. During this sojourn, while he is visited by Sarah and her mother, Alex learns that Sarah is his sister. The confrontation between Alex and his nemesis Carlos provides the pulsating finale of the film.

— Mourning Girls of Teamwork and Zennet World, directed by Gil M. Portes and written by Adolf Alix Jr., Gil M. Portes & Senedy Que. Wealthy patriarch Fernando Mentiroso (Ricky Davao), succumbs to heart attack. During the wake, as his wife Lupita (Glydel Mercado) mourns his untimely death, two other women arrive to pay respect to the dead Fernando, whom they claim was their real love. They are Carmen (Chin Chin Gutierrez), a promdi turned renewed Christian, and Dana (Assunta da Rossi), an actress who is referred to as the seductress of Philippine cinema. Unknown to the three, there is a fourth mysterious lover and this is Fe (Juliana Palermo), the maid of the Mentirosos who holds the key to the mystery of his death. They are the mourning girls who are each asserting her rights to the dead man’s millions. But in the end, only the prettiest and brightest of them all shall inherit everything. Who is it?