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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.

Jan 5, 2020


COCO MARTIN’s MMFF entry, “Tripol Trobol, Huli Ka Balbon”, is still being shown but he has already started shooting a new movie. This is a romantic-comedy titled “Love Or Money” that pairs him for the first time with Angelica Panganiban.

Its director, Mae Alviar (who just did “Unbreakable”), is now rushing its photography as it already has a playdate, February 12.

It’s meant to be Star Cinema’s special Valentine presentation. So they just have one month to finish principal photography and do the post production for the whole movie.

We have no doubt they can meet their deadline as Star Cinema is used to photofinishing their releases. Sometimes, the movie is about to be shown and they’re still shooting its final scenes.

Well, we just hope it’ll do better at the box office than Coco’s filmfest entry.  Coco must be feeling disappointed that “3pol Trobol, Huli Ka Balbon”, which he himself produced, directed and starred in, is a far third compared to the box office takes of the first two topgrossers, “Miracle in Cell No. 7” and “The Mall the Merrier” which both earned P200 million plus, where as his entry reportedly didn’t even make it to the P100 million mark.

His entries for the last two years, “Ang Panday” and "Jack Em Popoy", did much better as they're the number 2 enties to Vice Ganda’s movies then, raking in more than P200 million.

In “3pol Trobol’, Coco continues his quest to be the next FPJ which he started in his four-year old primetime show, “Ang Probinsyano”, and in “Ang Panday”. He again copies the formulas in plotting of FPJ flicks, like mixing action with comedy, and also Da King’s fighting techniques.

The action-packed opening sequence alone, the kind you see a lot in “Ang Probinsyano”, shows him to be invincible like FPJ. He chances upon some law enforcers in a gunfight in the middle of the street with gun smugglers.

He joins the shooting and helps the head law enforcer, Rowell Santiago, in fighting the bad guys. As Apollo Balbon, he’s just a criminology student but he handles the various guns he picks up by chance in the street like a real pro.

He also never misses and he easily gets to kill all the bad guys. In the mano-a-mano fight scenes, he uses some of the techniques we’ve seen before in FPJ and, later, he also has a familiar FPJ sequence where he rides a horse to run after the villains.

Rowell is so impressed by his fighting skills that he is immediately hired to be Rowell’s personal bodyguard. Rowell gained enemies in Edu and Tirso Cruz III as corrupt government officials implicated in gunrunning, so he is ambushed and killed before he can reveal the truth about their nefarious activities.

Coco manages to escape unscathed but he is accused to be the mastermind of the ambush, so he goes into hiding and does something that FPJ himself wil never do: he crossdresses as Paloma. He disguises as the illegitimate daughter of Rowell and meets Rowell’s balikbayan daughter, Jennlyn Mercado as Trina.

Of course, it’s so easy to detect that Coco is really a man just garbed in a flamboyant wigs and fabulous costumes no ordinary bodyguard can afford to buy.

Actually, he has already done this act in “Probinsyano”, but no one suspects at all that he’s a tranny, until Mitch Valdes as Rowell’s mayordoma sees him peeing while standing up in front a urinal for men. A lot of suspension of disbelief is required for thinking viewers to truly enjoy this movie.

Even the other plot machinations are so hard to swallow. For instance, in this time of advanced computer technology, the evidence Coco desperately needs to prove himself innocent is just written down on a notebook or ledger, and Edu’s henchmen find it so difficult to search for it. As our granddaughter comments: “Sana sa USB na lang.” And she makes a very good point there.

At times, “3pol” looks like a carry over of “Probinsyano” as most of the stars in it are also part of the movie’s cast, like Rowell, Edu Manzano, Mark Lapid, Whitney Tyson and all the other goons who we see in “Probinsyano”.

The difference is “3pol” has two Kapuso stars, Ai Ai de las Alas as his mother and Jennylyn Mercado as his love interest. Popular Manila Mayor Isko Moreno also shows up in three sequences but it seems his presence is not enough to attract more moviegoers to watch “3pol Trobol”.