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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.
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Mar 27, 2023

‘COCAINE BEAR’ is a comedy tinged with horror and is based on the real life 1985 story of a huge black bear which ingested nearly 34 kilos of lost cocaine. 

Now showing in local theaters, it’s a surprise hit worldwide. It starts when a drug smuggler, Andrew Thompson (Matthew Rhys), drops a shipment of cocaine from his plane.  

He then escapes with a bag full of cocaine and intends to parachute down, but he bumps his head into the plane’s door and falls down without opening his chute.  

A cop in Knoxville, Tennessee where his body landed, recognizes him as a drug dealer and correctly surmises that the stash is from a drug kingpin, Syd White (Ray Liotta, the movie is dedicated to him as it’s one of his last movies.)   

The black bear finds some of the bags of cocaine and eats it. 

A pair of hikers in Chattahoochee National Forest Park in Georgia, who are about to get married, Elsa (Hannah Hoekstra) and Olaf (Kristover Hivju), see the bear and think it’s harmless. 

Well, are they in for a big surprise, as the prohibited drugs have made the bear very aggressive and attacks them. 

We then see a nurse, Sari (Keri Russell of “Felicity”), coming home from night duty. 

She’s about to sleep when she learns that her tween daughter, Deedee (Brooklyn Prince), has cut classes to go to the forest with her friend Henry (Christian Convery), so she has no choice but follow them.

In the forest, the two kids find a package of cocaine then the bear appeared to attack them. Sari seeks the help of a forest ranger, Liz (Margo Martindale), and a wildlife protector, Peter (Jesse Ferguson.) The bear attacks them but Liz manages to get back to her to office to ask for help. 

We meet many other characters and we don’t have to mention them all to you. 

They all encounter the bear and the question is: who will die and who will survive?  In real life, the bear died after consuming so much cocaine. 

It was found in Northern Georgia along with 40 plastic containers of cocaine. 

Its body has been preserved through taxidermy and is still on display in a mall in Kentucky where it’s called the Cocaine Bear and also nicknamed as Pablo Esco-bear, after the notorious Colombian drug lord.   

The movie is quite well crafted but a darkly hilarious comedy-thriller.  

The way the bear killed many of its victims is definitely gruesome and scarily violent, making some scenes a veritable blood bath with limbs being dismembered, bodies disemboweled and heads decapitated. 

But if you like watching such gory stuff, our guess is you might even enjoy and have a blast. 

If you had a somewhat perverted sense of fun seeing how Leonardo D’Caprio suffered in the hands of a grizzly in “The Revenant”, then you’d definitely appreciate this more as the “Cocaine Bear” as it is more wildly entertaining and has a lot more victims and not just Leonardo.

Director Elizabeth Banks (best known as Effie in “The Hunger Games” and, as a director, for the “Pitch Perfect” movies) knows the movie can be silly and ludicrous with its high body count and many plot contrivances to put the human on the path of the truly menacing animal. 

But Banks makes no apologies in her efforts to make you howl with laughter while watching it, and also cringe with both terror and disgust at the same time as the bear tears its victims into pieces.

The movie has so many oddball characters and honestly, there are some scenes where we are actually sympathizing and rooting for the bear that is on a fast-paced rampage. 

After all, it didn’t ask for the drugs that just fell from the sky and you can’t blame the bear for being curious.

The human characters can really be so foolish and stupid you feel they deserve to be mangled by the bear turned junkie! 

Are we being gleefully sadistic? See the movie and find out for yourself. 

But if you’re squeamish, then just go watch “Paddington” instead as it has a more friendly bear. But yes, the CGI on this bear that goes berserk is spot on. He surely looks so real on screen. 

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DIRECTOR BRILLANTE MENDOZA has an entry in the coming Summer Metro-Manila Filmfest, “Apag (Feast)” starring Coco Martin in the lead role. 

He reveals that the  role was originally meant for Aljur Abrenica. Both Coco and Martin arew Kapampangans and the movie is filmed using the Pampango dialect. 

“He said yes to the project then a few days before we started the shooting, biglang nag-back out,” he says. 

“Walang sinabing reason, basta wala na siya. But according to his manager, natakot daw. Kasi when he spoke daw in Kapampangan sa kanila, pinagtawanan siya ng mga kapatid niya. 

"He must have felt insecure. I wasn’t expecting at all that he would back out.”

So he had to call his former talent who gained fame because of him, Coco Martin. 

Brillante gave Coco his screen name as his real name is Rodel Nacianceno. He was the one Coco his breakout role as a masseur in the acclaimed indie film, “Masahista” in 2005, which won an award in a filmfest in  Switzerland. 

He made many more indie films after that, including the BL film “Daybreak”, the movie about an old theater “Serbis” shown in the Cannes Filmfest and the highly acclaimed Cinemalaya entry, “Jay”, which gave him several best supporting actor awards. 

For Brillante, he did “Kinatay” and it gave him best actor awards.  

“Marami kami talagang pinagsamahan so noong nataranta ako, kasi naka-set up na ang shooting, tapos biglang walgn lead actor, siya agad ang naisip kong tawagan,” adds Brillante. 

“Kasi kapag may problema siya sa set noon ng ‘Probinsyano,’ he calls me up. So ako naman ang tumawag sa kanya, Sabi ko, may problema ako. Yung artista ko, biglang nag-back out.”  

It’s really a blessing that Coco is very sympathetic with him. 

“Sabi niya, bakit, ano nangyari? So nagkuwento ako. Sabi niya, naku, kundi lang ako nagte-taping, ako na gaganap diyan. 

"Pero may break kami sa taping, kasi magpa-Pasko. Sabi ko, are you serious? He said, Oo, aayusin ko ang schedule ko. 

"So ayun, nag-shooting kami bigla na kasama siya kahit Pasko. Wala siyang naging Christmas vacation sa taping niya. 

"Godsent talaga siya para sa ‘Apag’. Naging blessing in disguise ang pag-back out ni Aljur with Coco no less as his replacement.”

“Apag” is a family drama about guilt, justice, faith and forgiveness. 

Coco plays the pivotal role of Rafael, the rich owner of a successful Pampango restaurant and we're sure Aljur will regret it he didn't get to play this very significant role.  

In a vehicular accident, Cici kills a lowly tricycle driver.  Afraid of going to prison, it’s his father Alfredo (Lito Lapid), who owns up to the crime and goes to jail.   

Feeling so guilty about it, Coco becomes depressed, then hires the widow of the man he killed, Nita (Gladys Reyes), to work for him and so he can give regular income to the orphaned family. 

But as we all know, no secret can remain concealed for long. Gladys eventually finds out who the real culprit is in the death of her husband, leading to some complications.

After directing and producing a number of sexy films for Vivamax, it’s like “Apag” is Brillante’s way of making up specially now that it’s Holy Week and this will start showing on Black Saturday. 

The movie has a compelling religious flavor, with each chapter preceded by a quotation from the Bible.  

Brillante says the word Apag really means “hapag” or ‘hapag kainan- dining table’. 

Written by Ayu Martinez, it is Brillante’s personal homage to Philippine culture, specially to his own roots as a Pampangueno. 

The film highlights sumptuous Kapampangan dishes and also pays tribute to traditional family values.  

The impressive big powerhouse cast also includes Jaclyn Jose (who won the Cannes Filmfest best actress award for Brillante’s “Ma Rosa”), Gina Pareno, Julio Diaz, Shaina Magdayao, Vince Rillon, Joseph Marco, Mark Lapid, Mercedes Cabral and Ronwaldo Martin. 

“Apag” has been exhibited and won acclaim in various international film festivals, including Busan in Korea, Warsaw in Poland, Bangkok in Thailand, Vesoul in France, and others. 

Don’t miss it when it is shown as an official entry in the Summer Metro-Manila Filmfest that starts showing on April 8. Let’s all support the local movie industry.

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Mar 26, 2023


VITTO MARQUEZ, the 26-year old son of Alma Moreno and Joey Marquez who became part of the Kapamilya Hashtags male group, looks so jolly and cheerful at the presscon and premiere night of “Working Boys 2: Choose Your Papa” that you wouldn’t think he went through a bout of debilitating depression during the pandemic.   

“Nawala kasi ang Hashtags tapos, during the pandemic, bawal lumabas ng bahay, nakakulong ka lang, so na-depressed ako,” he confesses. 

“But now, I’m okay. I’m coping with it. Ang depression kasi, hindi naman lubusan mawawala, but you can fight it to lessen your feelings of being depressed. 

"At that time, nung puede nang lumabas, ayoko pang lumabas. 

"I got offers but tinanggihan ko kasi I felt I wasn’t ready.”

He was fortunate that his family and his girlfriend were there to support him. 

“To be honest, five months after the pandemic began, I was thinking of ending it all. 

"I’m not going to lie, naisip ko talaga yun pero nilabanan ko, kaya nag-stress eating ako. 

"Kain ako ng kain kaya tumaba naman ako. Now, natatawa ako kapag naiisip ko yun.”

He got five projects which he turned down, including “Boy Bastos”, which went to Wilbert Ross and became his launching TV series. 

“But I’m happy it went to Wilbert, na kasama ko noon sa Hashtags. Panay nga ang pagpapasalamat niya sa akin. 

"Kasi nagkaroon din siya ng depression and I was there for him. He’s like a brother to me. 

"That time kasi that the offer came for me, ayokong yung depression ko, maka-apekto sa trabaho ko at sa mga kasama ko. 

"Hindi ko lang magagawa nang maayos ang work ko kung hindi naman ako okay. So I took my time.”

Last year, TV5 offered him to do a sitcom, “Kalye Kweens”, with his mother.  

“It’s a big help na kasama ko sa work ang mama ko,” he says. “I felt ready na akong lumabas uli, magtrabaho, go back to normal. 

"I was still nervous reporting to the taping but I fought it. Nakapagpalakas talaga ng loob ko ang mama ko. 

"Lagi kaming nag-uusap. Going back to work is also therapeutic for me. 

"And after that, dumating ang ‘Working Boys 2: Choose Your Papa’ and it felt nice to be going back to work doing a TV series and a new movie.” 

Being with his “Working Boys 2” co-stars Wilbert Ross, Mikoy Morales, Nikko Natividad and Andrew Muhlach really buoyed his spirit. 

“Lock in yung shooting namin, so lagi kaming magkakasama and we had great camaraderie on the set. Lagi kaming nagkukulitan, on and off camera, so masaya lang. 

"It’s a happy set and a happy movie. We play jobless young men who formed an app called Choose Your Papa. 

"Puede kayong pumili sa amin kung meron kayong papa-gawa, like papa-luto, papa-laba, papa-sama, papa-masahe and other papa jobs. 

"In the process, we encounter a lot of hilarious clients and many funny experiences. 

"So don’t miss ‘Working Boys 2’ when it opens in theaters nationwide this Wednesday, March 29, para sumaya ang buhay nyo at hindi kayo ma-depress.”

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Mar 25, 2023


AS A director, Jun Lana is so fortunate that he enjoys both artistic and commercial success as he has won both international and local awards for films like “Bwakaw”, “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan”, “Barber’s Tales” and “Kalel, 15”.

And he also did blockbuster hits that click with viewers, like “Die Beautiful”, “The Panti Sisters”, “Haunted Mansion” and “Dalawang Mrs. Reyes”. 

In other words, he is a true master of the filmmaking craft both as award-winning and box office director.  

He now comes up with another award-winning film, “About But Not About Us”, which won the best picture award at the 26th Tallin Black Nights Film Festival in Estonia last November, one of the largest film festivals in Europe. 

It is a film that is both at once simple and complex. Simple as it has only one location, a restaurant, and it has only two characters who just converse with each other from start to end, reminiscent of the “Before Sunset/ Sunrise” hit films. 

But in the process of the two men talking, secrets and past traumas are uncovered, exploring themes of loss and grief, art and identity. Its veiled complexity will be a challenge to the viewer who look only for light escapist entertainment.   

Lana is so blessed that he is very well served by his two very competent actors who both give compelling performances. 

Romnick Sarmenta, getting his best role in years, play Eric, an English U.P. professor who doesn’t conceal his sexual preference, while Elijah Canlas plays Lance, his former student who’s now a budding writer. 

We learn that Elijah is suffering from severe trauma as he is physically abused by his stepdad, which is allowed by his own mom.. Romnick has rescued him by offering him to stay in his condo unit, with no strings attached.

Both Romnick and Elijah started as child actors and it’s Elijah’s luck that he was given early on good challenging roles that has yielded him acting awards both here and abroad.   

They both succeed marvelously in bringing their characters to life on screen so effectively, going through an entire wide range of emotions as they collaborate on exploring the journey and the world of two men who comed from different generations but are both gay, though they have varied motivations and aspirations.  

Lana has admitted in interviews that part of the film is auto-biographical, like Elijah’s being an abused child, and writing the script during the pandemic is cathartic for him as it allowed him to face and purge some dark elements of his past.   

He acknowledges that his film is theatrical and it can really be staged as a long one-act play as there are only two main characters and all their conversation happens in just one setting with one table and two chairs. 

The wonder of it all is that the setup works and the film, which runs for an hour and a half, is totally riveting, what with the engaging exchanges of dialogue between the two protagonists. Their conversation reveals a lot in their character and personality.

This is particularly true in Elijah who, initially, seems so harmless, but it turns out there is an incipient madness lurking beneath his surface. 

There is a big shift in his character and he unexpectedly turns out to be a ruthlessly scheming, manipulative young man with his own wicked agenda.   

We won’t go much into what happened or share what secrets they’ve revealed in the course of their conversation and it would be a spoiler. 

Suffice it to say that all the talking weaves quite a compelling, even shocking, story told with flair and wit.   

A lot of the dialogue is in English and it helps that both Romnick and Elijah are fluent with it. 

They both understand the intricacies of their complex roles, the dynamics needed to make their characters work and their intimate tete-a-tete about artistic creation, grief and identity. 

Both Romnick and Elijah give solid performances and they run through an entire range of emotions in the course of their discussions. 

At one point, they even change their appearance and the way they talk to approximate the personality of a dead character who they both knew intimately. 

No doubt that this vividly contributed to the growing tension between them and they really collaborated exceptionally well. 

The film is an entry in the coming Summer Metro-Manila Filmfest that starts in theaters on April 8. Come the filmfest awards night on April 11, we won’t be surprised if both Romnick and Elijah are nominated as best actors. 

If there are no other strong male performances, we hope it’d be a tie for them.

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RK BAGATSING has proven his acting prowess in such hit TV series as “Wildflower” and “Be My Lady”. 

He now plays a lead role on the big screen no less in Saranggola Media’s Summer Metro-Manila Filmfest entry, “Kahit Maputi Na ang Buhok Ko (The Music of Rey Valera)”.  

“It’s really a big honor to play Mr. Rey Valera in his biopic,” he says. 

“He’s one of our country’s most popular singer-songwriters, with so many hit songs to his credit, so I’m very proud to play him in this movie. 

''I did my very best to make sure hindi naman ako mapahiya in portraying him on the big screen.”

The movie relives the inspirations, the people, situations,  communities and the times that inspired Rey Valera to compose some of his most popular and deeply meaningful Original Pilipino Music hits across the decades of his iconic career.

Rey himself is the film's narrator and chooses ten of his OPM blockbusters to weave a tapestry on the human condition and his own reflections on the stories of what makes the Filipino a Filipino. 

The characters in the movie are composites of some of the people he encountered in his life.

Rey immerses into the whys and wherefores of how he was able to create such immortral hit songs as “Kahit Maputi na ang Buhok Ko”, “Malayo Pa Ang Umaga”, “Mr. DJ”, “Pangako sa Yo”, “Kung Tayo’y Magkakalayo”, “Maging Sino Ka Man”, 

“Kung Kailangan Mo Ako”, “Tayong Dalawa”, “Ako si Superman”, and some of the greatest hit songs performed by Rico J. Puno, the superstar performer of OPM from the 1970s and 1980s up to the early 2000s.

Rey reveals and returns to the original intent and circumstances of each of these signature songs in their  contextual history or life settings. 

Some of the songs are often associated with or remembered as theme songs of memorable Filipino movies, but their origins each tell different a story and origin stories surely matter. 
RK Bagatsing is lucky that Director Joven Tan has assembled a powerhouse cast of talents to support him, including Christopher de Leon, Gelli de Belen, Rosanna Roces,  Aljur Abrenica, Rico Barrera,

Josh de Guzman,  Lotlot de Leon,  Jenine Desiderio,  Meg Imperial,  Ronnie Lazaro,  Gian Magdangal,  Carlo Mendoza,  Ara Mina,  Arlene Muhlach,  Pekto Nacua,  Eric Nicolas,  Dennis Padilla, 

 Epy Quizon,  Arman Reyes,  Ariel Rivera,  Ricky Rivero,  Lloyd Samartino,  Shira Tweg,  Lou Veloso,  and Gardo Versoza.

The film is told in segments devoted to Rey’s selected hit songs. Within the film are also tributes to the late Rico J. Puno for whom Rey wrote a lot of songs. 

There is a separate segment on the song “Ako Si Superman”, which Rey intended to be sung by Rico J. Puno, but the “Total Performer” was unable to record it, but he suggested that Rey would sing it himself. It turned out to be one of Rey’s hits that he himself sung.

“We invite all the viewers to join us in singing the songs na parang sing-along," says RK who really did a good job in portraying Rey Valera. 

"This is the first time a tribute to a composer like this is being done in local films and we’re sure all those who appreciated the songs of Rey Valera through the years will enjoy in singing them inside the movie house.  

"So don’t miss ‘Kahit Maputi Na ang Buhok Ko’ when it starts showing in cinemas nationwide on Black Saturday, April 8. We assure you that you will all have a good musical time.”
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‘ATTACHMENT’ is a Danish horror-drama that is also an unexpected LGBT romance about two women with different cultures and upbringing, now available on streaming. 

The lead characters are Maja (Josephine Park), a former actress who played an elf in a Danish TV show for kids, and Leah (Ellie Kendrick, “Game of Thrones”), a London-based Jewish student doing some research.

The film starts with their first meeting in a library in Denmark where Maja is supposed to read to some children. 

She and Leah accidentally bump into each other and their things fell into the floor.   

Sparks fly and there is instant rapport between them. 

They go to a cafe to talk, with Maja inviting Leah later for wine in her pad. 

They fall in love and Leah stays with Maja, sharing the same bed. 

One night, Maja sees Leah sleepwalking by their bedside. The next time, she suddenly collapses and has a seizure that is so violent it breaks her left leg and the broken bones had to be cast.

It’s time for Leah to return to London and, since she’s practically a cripple walking in crutches, Maja volunteers to accompany her in going home. 

In London, Maja meets Leah’s mom, the overprotective Chana (Sofie Grabol), who’s always checking on her daughter on the phone while she is in Denmark. 

Obviously, this is not your typical lesbian love story. 

Chana doesn’t seem to welcome Maja and appears to be a bit abrasive in supervising everything that Leah does. 

Maja also observes that she has installed strange Jewish items in their house, like lighted candles and plates with weird illustrations. So Maja goes to a Jewish bookstore to inquire about their significance.   

She meets Lev (David Dencik), who happens to be Chana’s brother in law and Maja’s uncle. When Chana learns that he has spoken to Maja, she forbids Lev to do so and the mystery of what is really happening in her house deepens. 

If you intend to watch the movie in a streaming channel, we’ll ask you to stop reading as the rest of this review will be a spoiler. 

The viewer will identify with Maja and her escalating fear. She initially views Chana as a roadblock to her budding love affair with Leah. 

But slowly, she learns about Chana’s dark secrets and what is really afflicting Leah. 

It has something to do with Jewish folklore and an evil spirit in Judaism known as the dybbuk, a malevolent Yiddish spirit who enters the body of a person and possesses it. 

It turns out that Leah’s body is inhabited by such evil entity since childhood. 

Chana cannot exorcise it and Leah has become co-dependent with it. This is the reason why she is so overbearing and is so ultra-Jewish Orthodox in the treatment of her only daughter. It’s really for her own safety.

“Attachment” is the film feature debut of writer-director Gabriel Gislason. 

The germ of the story seems to be quite intriguing but the way it’s developed on screen is certainly not scary. 

It gets real slow and drawn out in the storytelling. After a while, we’re wishing they’d pick up the pacing to hasten its explanation on what is happening on screen. 

There are some unexplained aspects in the story. 

The biggest one is: if Chana is really so pushy in protecting Leah and cannot bear to let her off her eyes, why did she allow her to go to London at all? 

And why all the secrecy about Leah’s predicament. 

It could have been easier for everyone if she told Maja the truth early on. 

But then, there will be no conflict at all and the film can be told in half an hour. 

We really wish the film were more successful in building up tension and suspense, but it doesn’t even offer the usual jump scares.  

The film reminds us of the Australian horror film, “The Babadook”, which is also about a supernatural spirit that can possess people and is more successful in giving the audience a good scare.  

We also wish there was more chemistry between the two lead stars. 

Actually, the movie was more successful in making us laugh than in spooking us. 

The funniest scene is when Maja and Leah are making love in bed then the door suddenly opens and Chana barges in. It was truly an awkward moment for the lovers, but not for Chana who even seems nonchalant about it. 

In the end, at the heart of the movie is actually a story about a mother and daughter spiced up with a queer romance.

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Mar 24, 2023


WILBERT ROSS is no doubt one of the busiest actors today at Vivamax, doing one movie after another and also, mini-series like “Boy Bastos” and “Stalkers”.  

Now, he is happy that he has a new comedy movie that will finally be shown on the big screen, “Working Boys 2, Choose Your Papa”, which will be shown on theaters nationwide starting March 29.  

Contrary to stories that success was given to him on a silver platter by Viva, Wilbert has really paid his dues. 

He is the second of four kids (and only boy) in his family. He was born and raised in Davao. He was 18 years old when he joined “Pinoy Boy Band” in Manila, but he lost. Now, he has a more successful career than the winners.

So he went back to Davao and continued with his engineering course as an Indonesian scholar as his dad is from Indonesia. 

But he really aspires to be in showbiz, so he asked his parents’ permission to let him try his luck alone in Manila. 

“May cousin po ako sa Novaliches, construction worker, nakatira sila sa squatter, siksikan kami sa maliit na lugar nila sa pagtulog,” he recalls. 

“Nagko-commute lang po ako going to ABS-CBN para mag-audition sa Hashtags. Wala akong kakilala. 

"Minsan, pag-uwi ko, nakalampas ako at nakarating ng monumento. Naiyak ako kasi kulang na yung pamasahe ko.  I was 19 noon at sinuwerte akong makuha sa Hashtags.”   

But he was hardly noticed there. 

“Sa aming lahat, ako yung pinakulelat. Kung minsan, mapapasama ako sa isang number, at the last minute, ipu-pull out ako at papalitan ng iba. 

"May isa kasing boss sa show na ayaw sa akin, hinaharang ako pag binibigyan ako ng magandang segment. Sabi ng staff, sinasama nila ako pero pagdating sa kanya, tinatanggal ako. 

"Ni hindi ako pinayagang i-promote yung single ko. So I got depressed at hinihiwa ko yung wrist ko to feel the pain. 

"Umiiyak ako sa mama ko, tutuloy ko pa ba yung dream ko? Sabi niya, umuwi ka na lang dito. Mag-aral ka na lang.”   

His big break came during the pandemic. Viva was beefing up its stable of new stars for its streaming channel and Wilbert was hired to play the resident dumb and naive leading man. 

“Yes, sinuwerte po ako nung pandemic. Sabi nga nila, na-perfect ko na raw yung pagganap ko bilang bidang tatanga-tanga. 

"Nagpapasalamat po talaga ako sa Viva sa opportunity na ibinigay nila sa akin, kaya naman ginagalingan ko talaga sa bawat project na ibinibigay nila sa akin at pati sa mga kantang I composed for them.”   

In “Working Boys 2”, he plays Biboy. 

“As usual, ako po yung bobo sa grupo at iyakin din ako. Kapartner ko rito si Angela Morena. 

"Nag-enjoy naman akong doing the movie with Nikko Natividad and Vitto Marquez na mga kasama ko dati sa Hashtags, then si Andrew Muhlach na ilang beses ko nang nakatrabaho sa Vivamax projects ko, at si Mikoy Morales na ngayon ko lang nakatrabaho, pati ang director naming si Direk Paolo O’Hara. 

Naging maganda ang bonding naming lahat sa lock in shoot namin. Masaya ang 'Working Boys 2' kaya panoorin nyo po kapag ipinalabas sa mga sinehan on Wednesday, March 29."

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THE ‘JOHN WICK’ franchise began in 2014 when Keanu Reeves, in the title role of a retired hitman, takes revenge against the Russian gangsters who killed his dog, a gift from his wife who just died, and also stole his vintage Mustang. 

It was a huge blockbuster so Chapter 2 followed in 2017, with John up against the High Table Italian mafia lords. 

It’s an even bigger hit than the first one. Chapter 3: “Parabelllum” came out in 2019 with Halle Berry as John’s ally in Morocco who helps him meet with the Elder who is superior to the High Table. 

It ends with his friend Winston (Ian McShane) betraying him, but his other friend The Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) helps him and they vow to join forces against the High Table. 

And now in Chapter 4 (the release of which was delayed by the Pandemic), John gets to kill the Elder (George Giorgiou) in Morocco and he now faces the new leader of the High Table, the Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgard, “It” movies), who hires Caine (Donnie Yen, “Ip Man”), a blind assassin to kill John. If Caine wouldn’t do it, the Marquis threatens to kill his daughter.

John hides at the Osaka Continental Hotel, managed by his old friend Koji (Hiroyuki Sanada, “Bullet Train”.) 

The hired killers of the Marquis, led by Caine, storm the hotel to kill John. Koji’s daughter, Akira (Rina Sawayama), who is also the concierge of the hotel, joins her father and John to fight of the High Table’s the hired assassins.

John has to face another killer hired by the Marquis, the bounty hunter-tracker known as Mr. Nobody (Shamier Anderson, TV series “Invasion” & “Winona Earp”). He comes with a ferocious, man-eating doggie who figures in one of the funniest scenes in the movie. 

But he lets go of John, who’s a former friend, when he finds the money to be paid by the Marquis not enough. 

Winston (Ian McShane) tells John to challenge Gramont to a one-on-one duel. 

If he’d win, then the High Table would let him go. But first, he has to be a member of another crime family to get to challenge the Marquis. 

John used to be a member of Ruska Roma, another crime organization,  but he has ended his relationship with them. 

Now, he goes back to them to renew his ties to be able to face the Marquis. Katia (Natalia Tena), a Russian girl, would agree only if he’d kill Killa (Scott Adkins), head of the German High Table who had previously killed her father. 

John looks for Killa and gets to kill him. He then formally challenges the Marquis to a duel. 

The Marquis then sends Caine to fight for him and the venue is the familiar Paris church on top of a hill, the Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart) in Montmartre.  

To prevent him from getting to the venue, the Marquis offers $40 million to various assassins who will try to kill John along the way. 

This is as far as we’ll go, so as not to spoil things for you.  

But brace yourself for an insanely violent finale and an unexpected ending, which you don’t have to believe as Keanu was just quoted that he’s willing to do more JW sequels. Also, a spin off is being made, with Ana de Armas as a female assassin called the Ballerina.

JW4 tops all the previous flicks by piling up more of what you’ve already seen in the past installments. 

It runs for nearly three hours and this is because director Chad Stahelski expanded its worldbuilding by introducing some new characters.  

JW4 is where JW’s past and present meet on a deadly collision course.  

The first half hour is kinda slow, with its highlight showing John riding on a horse in the desert to kill the elder in Morocco, but it picks up when he goes to the hotel in Osaka and his foes gang up on him. This is a 40-minute bloodbath. 

The next big action set piece is when he John goes to Berlin to fight it out with Scott Adkins, who’s barely recognizable here with his fat suit and gold teeth. 

The action here strains our credulity with all the people on the dance floor continuing to dance and not getting scared while John and his enemies are already killing each other in front of them.

The franchise works mainly because Keanu is so totally committed to his title role. 

If Tom Cruise has Ethan Hunt and Pete Mitchell, Keanu has Neo and John Wick. 

The action in JW4 is impressive with its violent and beautiful bloody balletic sequences, but it’s really the lead actor that sets it apart from all the others. 

You can see that Keanu is really doing his own stunts and he makes sure that there’s always something exciting full of movement, energy and violence happening on screen, delivering the blood and the bullets on a massive scale. 

He gets punished big time in several scenes, being repeatedly hit by cars, falling down a high place into the ground, falling down the about 200 steps of the Scare Coeur.

We know we took the funicular when we went to the top of the hill, but it’s not shown here. 

But the 30-minute finale at Sacred Heart with its very high body count is truly so frenetic you will feel exhausted after watching it. 

It’s good they were allowed to shoot there. And also around the Arc de Triomphe monument with a long chase scene and shootout.

John is a man of few words but is so undeniably a charismatic ruthless badass. 

Keanu maybe 58 years old, but he has never looked more agile and fluid on the big screen, ready to take down anyone who gets on his way.

The action rarely lets up, with the adrenalin-fueled violent scenes so elegantly choreographed, cleanly shot and spectacularly executed. 

With his technique of shooting his opponents on the head at close range, John is more unkillable than James Bond that we think he can demolish even all the Avengers.

Keanu gets a great supporting cast. Bill Skarsgard is undoubtedly a mad man as the Marquis who comes from French royalty who demolishes the entire New York Intercontinental Hotel to punish Winston for not being able to kill John. 

Also giving great support are Laurence Fishburned as John’s foremost ally, the Bowery King; Hiroyuki Sanada, Scott Adkins, Donnie Yen and Lance Reddick as Charon, John’s friend and the NY hotel’s concierge (he appeared in all the past JW films and he passed due to an illness after doing this).

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Mar 23, 2023


TV5 CONTINUES to beef up its programming with new shows like “Kurdapya” with Yassi Pressman and “Team A” with Jerald Napoles and Kim Molina. 

Now, Kapatid viewers all across the country are given a clearer and more intensified way of enjoying their favorite TV5 shows as the network becomes available in high-definition (HD) on pay TV via Cignal Channel 15 beginning April 1.

Experience TV5 HD with all its exciting entertainment, news, and sports programs, bringing family bonding to a whole new level of fun and amusement. 

Some of these engaging shows that can be enjoyed on TV5 HD are the highly-rated drama action series “FPJ’s Batang Quiapo” which has been trending every weeknight and the newly launched sitcoms “Team A” and “Kurdapya” which offer rib-tickling laugh fests on Saturday nights.

TV5 HD also gives a crisper and clearer view of the day’s news and current events via Frontline Pilipinas and Frontline Tonight as well as the action-packed PBA games, bringing coveted front-row access to live hardcourt action right at the comfort of your home.

The fun doesn’t stop there because TV5 HD also airs ABS-CBN programs such as the primetime series Dirty Linen and The Iron Heart, the noontime favorite It’s Showtime, the iconic Sunday variety show ASAP Natin ‘To, among other ABS-CBN shows. 

Also catch the hilarious gang of Tropang LOL daily from Monday to Saturday before It’s Showtime on TV5 HD.

“We are committed to provide the best possible viewing experience for our Kapatids wherever they are and however they choose to watch their favorite TV shows. With our very own TV5 channel now available on ultra clear, digitally enhanced, high-definition quality on TV5 HD, we guarantee a leveled up viewing satisfaction that will make audiences love our shows even more,” shared TV5 President and CEO Guido R. Zaballero.

Starting April 1, enjoy your favorite Kapatid and Kapamilya shows like never before! Experience a clearer difference and catch more details in crisp, high definition format with TV5 HD, available via Cignal Channel 15.

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ANDREW MUHLACH is the youngest of Cheng Muhlach’s nine kids. 

His older brothers who are also in showbiz are Aga and AJ Muhlach. He is turning 25 in June and started acting as a 5-year old child star. 

“I did teleseryes like ‘Super Inggo’ and ‘Pieta’ and the movie ‘Super Noypi’ sa Regal,” he says. 

“At 11, I stopped kasi awkward stage for me, but I tried theatre. I returned to the movies when I was 15 in ‘Lumayo Ka Nga Sa Akin’ with Maricel Soriano. 

"I got to college taking up entrepreneurship but I stopped nung third year na ako kasi dumami ang projects ko.”   

His primary problem growing up is his weight. 

“Tabain kasi ako, e. Papayat-tataba-papayat. As of now, I’ve lost 15 kilos pero mahirap i-maintain, e. So I play basketball everyday.”

He’s been living alone since their dad passed.  “I was the one living with him when he died in 2018 at nagsosolo na ako mula noon.”          

No lovelife? “Wala, e. Walang nakikita, walang dumarating. 

"And my career is really my priority now kasi sunod-sunod ang projects na binibigay sa akin ng Viva.”

He’s playing mostly supporting roles. 

“Yes, but comedy ang forte ko. Si Adam Sandler ang idol ko. I usually play friend ng bida. But I’m ready to do all kinds of roles.”

Didn’t he do a sexy nude love scene in “Siklo”?  

“Yes, dun pa lang. Direk Roman Perez convinced me. Pero sobrang kinakabahan ako ng gawin ko yun. 

"Ina-acid ang tiyan ko, so I asked for medicine. Sabi ni Direk, huwag kang ma-stress para hindi ka mag-acid. 

"Bale ba, yung kapareha ko, first time din niya to do a sexy scene, si Rob Guinto, so sabi ko, magtulungan na lang tayo para magawa natin. 

"E, ang love scene pa naman namin, sa hagdanan. Naitawid naman namin.”   

He’s more relaxed when he’s doing wholesome comedies like “Working Boys 2: Choose Your Papa”. 

“Lima kami ritong lazy bums. Kasama ko sina Wilbert Ross, Mikoy Morales, Nikko Natividad and Vitto Marquez. 

"I play the role of Max at ako yung pinakamakulit and happy go lucky sa grupo namin.”   

He enjoyed shooting the movie, which is directed by Paolo O’Hara. “

Masayang kasama ang grupong ito, kasi lahat, magaan katrabaho. Lock in shooting kami nito at walang nagpapabida or nagpapa-diva sa set. 

"Para magkatrabaho kami, si Bayani Agbayani, our adviser, helped us put up an app Choose Your Papa, offering various services kung sino ang gusto magpapaluto, papaligo, papasama, papabili at kung anong papagawa sa amin.”

So join Andrew and his barkada if you want to laugh out loud in their zany comedy, “Working Boys 2, Choose Your Papa”, which is opening in theaters nationwide on Wednesday, March 29.    

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