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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 17, 2023



“FALL GUY” is Joel Lamangan’s homage to his mentor Lino Brocka’s “Jaguar”, which won the Urian best film award in 1980 and where even played a short role. 

“Jaguar” is the first Pinoy movie to be shown in the main competition in Cannes.  

It’s based on a true story written by Nick Joaquin, ‘The Boy Who Wanted to Become Society’.

Like Phillip Salvador as Poldo in “Jaguar”, Sean de Guzman’s Julius is a young man who enjoys rubbing elbows with his boss, Vance Larena as Fonzy, and his rich friends. 

His mom, Lourdes  (Shamaine Buencamimo), who works as a servant for Fonzy’s family reprimands him for being a social climber. He is told they do not belong to the same social class, but he won’t listen. 

Vance treats Sean as an errand boy. One night, Sean drives for Vance and his friends (Marco Gomez and Karl Aquino) to a party in a resort. 

With them is Marco’s girlfriend, Cloe Barreto, who they drugged and then they take turns in raping her. 

Marco is strangling Cloe while they’re having their way with her and she dies.

Sean, in turn, goes to bed with a friend of Vance, Dana (Hershie de Leon), and they also take drugs while making out. 

Julius passes out in bed and when he wakes up, the dead Cloe is already beside him, transferred there by Vance and friends.  

As the title suggests, Sean becomes the fall guy who is framed up for the death of Cloe.  

His mom and his dad (Jim Pebanco) help him side since they know that rich people like Vance and his family can easily distort the truth to exploit and pin down poor people like them. 

And they are right. Fonzy’s mom (Tina Paner), a politician, bribes cops and other people to cover up her son’s crime. 

Cloe’s own mom (Glydel Mercado) is also crying for justice.  

Sean is eventually arrested and ruthlessly tortured by cops who are forcing him to admit he killed Cloe. 

In “Jaguar”, the climax of the movie is when Phillip Salvador was cornered by the law enforcers pursuing him in the Smokey Mountain. 

Here, the film takes a more commercial ending, with Sean escaping from prison and taking the law into his own hands to give Lance and friends the comeuppance that they deserve. 

Joel Lamangan is noted for his films that make social commentary on how people in authority can easily use their power to oppress the poor.

The problem with “Fall Guy” is the lead character played by Sean is not sympathetic like Phillip’s Poldo in “Jaguar” who is a security guard (guardia of jaguar) helping his poor mom and siblings make both ends meet.

Sean is given the chance to go to college but instead of focusing on his studies, he devotes his time to wooing a rich girl and he even gets in necking with her right inside their class, much to the chagrin of their teacher.

We know Sean won best actor awards for his performance here in two minor film festivals abroad (India and Turkey) and maybe they were impressed by the scenes where Sean is brutally tortured by cops. 

But Sean’s acting here is not really as good as his acting as the remorseful erring husband in ‘Relyebo’, which is one of the best films shown last year. 

It’s the actresses who played the mothers who are given better acting moments, the reliable Shamaine and Glydel, and even Tina Paner who is surprisingly convincing as the manipulative politician mother of Vance. 

Vance himself is quite good as Fonzy. He is not really projected as an evil villain but just as a feeling entitled spoiled brat who just happens to be born to privilege. 

We just wish Sean’s Julius were someone we can really root for and not a character who suffered a fate that will make viewers say: ‘Buti nga sa’yo.’