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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.

Aug 25, 2022



THE FAMILIAR COMBO of sex and violence is highlighted once again by its foremost maven Roman Perez Jr. in a gang war movie that is one long brawl dotted with gratuitous sex scenes and punctuated by street fighting where most of the characters die. 

In other words, subscribers of Vivamax will be fully satisfied as it expectedly fulfills their constant craving for nude bodies cavorting on screen, plus abundant shots of bodies and throats being brutally slit, with blood liberally spurting.

No wonder Viva bosses continue to give Perez an endless string of projects, simply because he knows how to fulfill the streaming network’s foremost intentions. 

And in fairness to him, he knows how to weave a story that will hook the viewer’s interest.

“Sitio Diablo” is a no-man’s land (shot in the slum area along the bay known as Baseco Compound) inhabited by low lifes and the scum of the earth. 

It is currently ruled by two warring gangs, the Ilustrados and the Aztecs.  The former ruling gang was the Diablos, but its leader, Tonix (Benj Sangalang), was arrested and put to jail.

In his absence, the Ilustrados led by Bullet (Kiko Estrada), gained prominence and it so happened that Bullet’s live-in partner, Aina (AJ Raval), is the younger sister of Tonix. 

Bullet can handle the competition from the Aztecs but real trouble comes along when a corrupt cop (Joko Diaz) works on the release of Tonix from jail to use him in the new mayor’s nefarious activities.

Tonix tries to convince Aina and Bullet to join forces with him but they refuse, so this naturally leads to a bloody confrontation where, sadly, nobody wins. 

But destroying them is really easy to do since they are just full of hatred and seem so dead serious in their intention of eviscerating each other.

The movie is very emphatic in showing us that the poor people living in hovels like Sitio Diablo are just being ruthlessly exploited by dirty politicians for their own selfish motives to gain votes on election time and then later use them in marketing illegal drugs.

The movie is very dark and this is reflected in its gloomy, gritty surroundings full of filth and decay. It’s easy why Perez is attracted to this material. 

The subculture showing urban degradation in a miserable ghetto is no doubt an unfailing source of drama and character for him, complete with his liberal use of hiphop music.

AJ Raval does well as the woman torn between her lover and her brother in the Romeo and Juliet themed story. The final sequence is very commercial and quite memorable.

Dark films like this usually does not offer justice to the victims. But in this one, you’d think that the movie has ended but it turns out that AJ as a pregnant avenging angel will still pop out to give a villainous character the comeuppance he certainly deserves!

Seriously though, it is Kiko Estrada who truly impressed us in his role as the level-headed Bullet. We’re glad Perez finally gave him the break he long deserves as a leading man. 

Kiko has movie star good looks, a dynamic screen presence that will surely eclipse most of the other actors being given lead roles in Vivamax today. 

We specially like him in that scene where he implores AJ to go away and lead a new life with their baby. 

He surely knows how to underplay and that makes him more engaging, specially when he’s with that hot-headed actor-rapper whose intention seems to be to steal every scene he is in by playing to the gallery and overacting all over the place.

We were really applauding when Benz Sangalang finally knifed him to death. 

As for Kiko, we wish this would just be the start of his having more assignments with Vivamax.