Metro Manila Film Festival 2014

Iconic franchises; familiar faces sustain the Filipino Christmas movie tradition


Do you remember when the first major Vic Sotto-starrer became an official entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF)?

At least in the 21st century, 2004 is recorded as the much loved Enteng Kabisote’s earliest big screen appearance in Enteng Kabisote: Okay Ka, Fairy Ko: The Legend, which would be followed by six consecutive sequels until 2012. The highly successful movie franchise is of course a spinoff of Sotto’s popular TV sitcom Okay Ka, Fairy Ko, which ran for a decade from 1987 to 1997 in three different networks.

A closer look at the MMFF’s four-decade history, however, will reveal that Sotto had already entered Okay Ka, Fairy Ko, The Movie as producer and actor as early as 1991, with a sequel the following year.  Nevertheless, the franchise’s grand total of nine films only places it as the second longest movie series in the MMFF after horror franchise Shake, Rattle & Roll, which will show its 15th offering this year come opening day on December 25.

The blockbuster success of these two film franchises through the years has notably become a precursor for many other producers in fielding entries to the festival. This year, besides Regal Film’s ever enduring Shake, Rattle and Roll 15 and Sotto’s second installment in his new movie franchise My Big Bossing (a follow up to 2013’s My Little Bossings), his former co-producer and co-star in the original, Kris Aquino, is also reviving her decade-old horror top-grosser Feng Shui directed by Chito Roño.

Moreover, the tandem of comedian Vice Ganda and director Wenn Deramas is also back to bring on the laughs in the second outing of Praybeyt Benjamin.

Also, Dingdong Dantes’ technologically advanced The Aswang Chronicles action-horror flick goes from “Titktik” in 2012 to “Kubot” in this year’s sequel-filled line-up.

As familiar faces go, ER Ejercito takes on another action legend with a modern interpretation of the 1986 Fernando Poe Jr.-starrer Muslim Magnum.357. Robin Padilla, who essayed a role inspired by former senator Panfilo Lacson in 2013’s 10,000 Hours, goes way back in history in this year’s Bonifacio, Ang Unang Pangulo.

The lone “all-new” entry wraps up the roster of seven finalists in Derek Ramsay and Jennylyn Mercado’s romantic-comedy English Only Please.

Which movie will top box office returns this year? The competition is definitely up for My Big Bossing, Feng Shui and Praybeyt Benjamin 2.

As for the rest of the entries, Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman and MMFF Executive Committee head Francis Tolentino optimistically predicts, “I can now reasonably foresee that these movies will ultimately become classics in Philippine cinema and will continue to draw audiences decades after they first debut in theaters this Christmas.”

My-Big-Bossing  ‘My Big Bossing’
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy
Lead cast: Vic Sotto, Ryzza Mae Dizon, Marian Rivera, Nikki Gil and Pauleen Luna, starring Alonzo Muhclach

Directors: Joyce Bernal, Marlon Rivera and Tony Reyes
Producer: Octoarts Films, M-Zet TV Production and APT Entertainments

Synopsis: Vic Sotto’s entry to MMFF 2014, My Big Bossing is comprised of three episodes, each with its own fantasy-comedy storyline.

Episode 1 entitled “Sirena” is directed by Tony Reyes, and features the talents of Wally Bayola, Manilyn Reynes, and Pauleen Luna. Episode 2 billed “Taktak,” directed by Marlon Rivera, is led Marian Rivera and Jose Manalo in the cast.

Lastly, Episode 3 called “Prinsesa” is directed by Joyce Bernal, and puts Ryzza Mae Dizon in the spotlight alongside rising child star Alonzo Muhlach, the son of former child star Niño Muhlach, who will also play the role of Alonzo’s dad in the movie.

Feng-Shui-2‘Feng Shui 2’
Genre: Horror
Lead cast: Kris Aquino
and Coco Martin
Director: Chito Roño

Producer: Star Cinema and Kris Aquino Productions
Synopsis: A decade after spreading terror on the big screen, Feng Shui starring Kris Aquino, returns with the curse-bearing bagua.

Besides reprising her role, Aquino is now a co-producer of the movie, while original director Chito Roño is once again at the helm of the movie. Adding star power to the sequel is sought-after dramatic actor Coco Martin.

Fenh Shui 2 sees Joy (Aquino) 10 years after she destroyed an ancient bagua (the octagonal Feng Shui symbol), which had brought both luck and terror to her life.

She discovers that the bagua now belongs to a young man named Lester (Martin), and is forced to team up with him in a race against time to foil the unimaginable horrors it brings.

The film also stars Cherry Pie Picache, Carmi Martin and Ian Veneracion.

‘Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo’
Genre: Biopic, Historical Drama, Action
Starring: Robin Padilla, Vina Morales, Daniel Padilla, Eddie Garcia and Jasmine Curtis-Smith
Director: Enzo Williams
Producer: Philippians Productions

Bonifacio-1Synopsis: Andres Bonifacio is one of the Philippines’ most iconic heroes and yet only a handful truly knows the real story behind the man that led the country to a revolution. The film Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo, an entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival 2014, promises to change all that.

A historical action epic, the film aims to bring light to the true-to-life story of the Filipino revolutionary to be portrayed by Robin Padilla, as it unfolds through the eyes of a young man.

As its lead actor, Padilla shares that the film is a fresh and exciting take that reveals the events that led to the tragic demise of the hero.

Helming the film is director Enzo Williams, an award-winning graduate of Los Angeles City College, which is said to be the largest film school in the US. Like Padilla, Williams is passionate about Bonifacio.

To make his vision come to life, he assembled the best talents in the film industry, including award-winning cinematographer Carlo Mendoza, renowned production designer Roy Lachica, musical scorer Von de Guzman, and Hollywood stunt director Sonny Sison.

The film cast is also made up of the country’s award-winning veterans, brightest young stars and lauded indie thespians. Leading the group is Vina Morales who portrays Oriang, the wife of Bonifacio, and Daniel Padilla as the young man in the present day, together with Jasmine Curtis-Smith, RJ Padilla, and Eddie Garcia.

‘Kubot: The Aswang Chronicles’
Genre: Horror, Action, Comedy
Kubot-1Starring: Dingdong Dantes, Isabelle Daza, Elizabeth Oropesa and KC Montero
Director: Erik Matti
Produced by: Reality Entertainment, GMA Films, Agosto Dos Pictures

Synopsis: Kubot picks up where it ended in Tiktik, the first franchise of what is now The Aswang Chronicles series. After leaving Pulupundan for Manila to live a peaceful and quiet life, the protagonists led by Dingdong Dantes as Macoy is once again beset by a dilemma cause by antagonists, the aswang clan led by KC Montero as Doms.

The film introduces a new breed of aswang to give viewers a fresh take on local folklore. This is the kubot clan of long-haired female aswangs married to the tiktiks of Pulupandan. The main kubot is played by versatile actress Elizabeth Oropesa.

New additions in the cast include Isabelle Daza, Lotlot De Leon, Bogart the Explorer, Julie Ann San Jose and Abra. From the original cast, Joey Marquez and Ramon Bautista with Hanna Ledesma in a special introductory role.

Praybeyt-Benjamin‘The Amazing Praybeyt Benjamin’
Genre: Comedy, Action
Starring: Vice Ganda, Richard Yap, James “Bimby” Aquino-Yap and Tom Rodriguez
Director: Wenn Deramas
Producer: Star Cinema and Viva Films

Synopsis: The first Praybet Benjamin, released in October 2011, introduced Benjie Santos VIII, played by Vice Ganda, to Filipino audiences. He is a gay dance teacher who is forced to become a soldier to spare his ailing father from joining the war.

In the sequel, Benjie again takes on an unlikely mission: To be the personal bodyguard of a boy named Bimbee (Bimby Aquino Yap), who holds the key to dismantling a bomb, which villain Janjaranjan (Tom Rodriguez) has threatened to launch to wipe out the country. Bimbee is the son of General Wilson Chua (Richard Yap).

The Amazing Praybeyt Benjamin also stars Alex Gonzaga, Kean Cipriano, Ricky Rivero, DJ Durano, Jojit Lorenzo, Malou de Guzman, and Al Tantay, with the special participation of veteran actor Eddie Garcia.

‘English Only Please’
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Starring: Jennylyn Mercado, Derek Ramsay
Director: Dan Villegas
Producer: Quantum Films

English-Only-PleaseSynopsis: English Only Please stars the fresh tandem of Derek Ramsay and Jennylyn Mercado on the big screen, making it a highly anticipated entry.

In the film, Julian Parker (Ramsay) flies back to Manila from New York City to brush up
on his Filipino. He hires a fierce Filipino-English tutor, Tere Madlansacay (Mercado), to help him with the task of delivering his deep-seated anger for his ex-girlfriend (Isabel Oli) through the power of the written word.

A no-nonsense and hardworking girl, Tere’s life changes when she meets the dashing Julian and the student-teacher relationship takes a turn for friendship when he asks her to help him find his former flame.

Of course, romance blooms in the course of their mission, in ways neither of them can put into words.

‘Shake, Rattle and Roll 15’
Genre: Horror
Shake-Rattle-and-Roll-15Starring: Dennis Trillo, Carla Abellana, Matteo Guidicelli, JC De Vera, Erich Gonzales, and Lovi Poe

Directors: Jerrold Tarog, Dondon Santos, and Perci Intalan

Producer: Regal Films

Synopsis: Pinoy moviegoers missed out last year MMFF’s traditional horror fare, Shake, Rattle and Roll. So they rejoiced when MMFF screening committee announced that the highly successful and longest-running Regal Films franchise is among this year’s official entries.

As always, the Shake, Rattle and Roll 15 is comprised of three parts. The first is “Ahas” starring Erich Gonzales who will portray the mythical twin snake of a shopping mall.

Co-starring with Gonzales in this story inspired by a famous urban legend from the 1980s is JC de Vera. It is directed by Dondon Santos

Carla Abellana and Dennis Trillo’s “Ulam” episode, meanwhile is a psychological thriller. In this segment helmed by Jerrold Tarog, both stars will be possessed by the Taong Itim whom they share their very old house with.

Finally, “Flight 666” by Perci Intalan takes place inside a plane where two monstrous creatures make the ride horrible for the passengers, flight attendants and pilot. The cast are led by Lovi Poe, Matteo Guidicelli and Daniel Matsunaga.

‘Muslim Magnum.357
(To Serve and Protect)’
Genre: Action
Starring: ER Ejercito and Sam Pinto
Director: Jun Posadas

Magnum-Muslim-Producer: Scenema Concept International and Viva Films
Synopsis: Muslim Magnum.357 is is spearheaded by ER Ejercito who serves as the star, producer, co-director, and screenplay writer.

Ejercito for the past four years has joined the MMFF in biographical films, but this year chose to remake the 1986 action hit Muslim Magnum.357, which starred the late King of Philippine Cinema, Fernando Poe Jr.

The film is about a Muslim undercover police officer who is sent to Manila to help curb the increasing crime rate caused by a syndicate. Through the course of his new assignment, he discovers that a high-ranking officer in his department is the both supporting and protecting the criminal group. The famed Muslim bravery is awakened in the upright enforcer who vows to stop crime and corruption in his ranks.
Additional Sources: Wikipedia,


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