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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.

May 26, 2022



THERE HAVE been many movies about gambling. The one we remember the most is Dostoevsky’s “The Gambler” which was filmed twice in Hollywood, first starring James Caan in 1974 and then Mark Wahlberg in 2014. 

Now comes “Pusoy” from Vivamax, written and directed by NY-based short filmmaker Italian-American Phil Giordano who gets his full length directorial break here in Manila.  

Giordano obviously got a lot of help from his creative producer, Brillante Mendoza, specially in the writing of the screenplay with all its lines in Pilipino and in establishing the film’s local milieu. 

Although the film focuses on gambling, the central character is not the chief gambler himself, Rodolfo (Baron Geisler), who owns a small underground gambling den.  

The lead character is actually his bodyguard, Popoy (Vince Rillon), on whom the film opens when he gets into a brawl after being accused of cheating in a card game in a wake. 

He runs away and gets to return to his home where we learn his mom (Raquel Monteza) is suffering from kidney disease and is desperately in need of a transplant. 

His whole family depends on Popoy, including his dad (Julio Diaz), an older brother, a younger sister and his own wife (Jela Cuenca) and his own son. 

We see Popoy making love to his wife in the film’s first gratuitous nude bedscene. Then his boss, Rodolfo, comes to fetch him along with his paramour and card dealer, Xandra (Janelle Tee.)

They go to a gambling joint where Popoy ends up killing a player who catches Rodolfo cheating.  

They leave and Rodolfo then goes home with Xandra for the film’s second graphic sex scene. 

This time, this is done with a difference. Rodolfo enjoys sado-masochism with Xandra as the nasty dominatrix who punishes him while they lustily make love.   

It turns out the man killed by Popoy is the son of a powerful man and cops soon show up to invite Rodolfo to their station. 

He then calls up a general for help but the general asks him for P10 million as payback. Rodolfo and Xandra then work to cheat double time on the gambling table to raise the P10 million he needs.   

As if his troubles are not enough, Rodolfo sees a pretty card dealer in a gambling joint, Mika (Angeli Khang), and pirates her from her owner, Banong (Kiko Matos.)  

Of course, Xandra will not take this sitting down and the spurned Janelle Tee seethes like hell hath no fury as she's a woman scorned.  

She then plots out to steal all the money Rodolfo has collected in his safe, with the help of Popoy who’s also in dire need of funds for his mom’s kidney transplant. 

It this were a film by the cult director of Vivamax, everyone would end up dead. But here, they're not as brazen and fearless so not everyone dies.

As such, those who are out thirsting for more blood would kinda be disappointed as there is no real bloodbath. 

One thing we can say, though, is that we’re happy for Vince Rillon. At least, he didn’t end up being savagely tortured the way he was sliced and diced in his last Vivamax outing, “Kaliwaan”.  

The movie is actually about low lifes who live very messy lives, so we don’t know if you would invest your emotions with any of them. 

It turns out Rodolfo has his own wife and teenage daughter who is an inveterate drug addict, so he has her committed in a rehab clinic. 

Xandra is a single mom with a crybaby of a son and like we said earlier, Popoy is the doormat of his needy family.  

The only one not given much of a personal back story is Mika, and we don’t even know what happens to her character when the movie ends. 

But who cares? After all, you don’t really expect to watch a Vivamax movie for an inspiring and uplifting experience about the human condition, do you?

But in the sex department, “Pusoy” will not disappoint Vivamax loyal subscribers who have learned to associate it with erotically arousing entertainment. 

Janelle gets to make love several times with Baron and also with Vince, while Angeli has a sex scene with Vince inside a rest room, with Kiko Matos inside a car, and with Baron in bed while he wraps his belt around neck and ask her to bark like a dog while he’s taking her from behind. 

The S & M factor of inflicting and receiving pain (with humiliation on the side) is the new element here that hopefully, discerning and sharp-witted Vivamax lovers would recognize and warmly appreciate, so that more of the Vivamax content creators would also include them in their upcoming salacious works in the not so distant future.