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All Star Cast Indeed
Produced by: Regal Films
Directed by: Joel Lamangan
Starring: Eddie Garcia, Boots Anson Roa, Tirso Cruz III, Gina Alajar, Amy Austria, Maricel Soriano, Kris Aquino, Ara Mina, Richard Gomez, Eric Quizon, Gina Alajar, Jay Manalo, Cogie Domingo, and Maxine Magalona.

"If there's one film to see from this year's Metro Manila Film Festival - it has got to be "DEKADA 70"". Didn't those words echo in your ears with all their numerous TV ads, as it did to mine. So my mind was made up when I lined up during the first day of the filmfest to buy tickets for Dekada. But we had a great surprise when "Mano Po" tickets were only available for a 7:45pm showing to Dekada's 10:30 pm playtime. And its only 5:00 pm. Wow, who wants to wait for 51/2 hours?

We decided to see Mano Po and had the best Christmas gift as we feel the film deserves top honors this year. It has got to be. Acting was superb. The storyline chronicles the saga of the Go Family (parallel story to that of the producer, Mother Lily Monteverde) with Fil-Chi roots spanning three generations. The various social problems associated with rags-to-riches Chinoys, inter-racial marriages, exploitation of politicians, and kidnappings were all neatly interwoven by Direk Joel Lamangan.

The cast was competent. The movie starts with a vague kidnap scene then flashbacks to the young Eddie Garcia and Boots Anson Roa played by Cogie and Maxine with some passable acting. (didnt Cogie already prove himself with the film Deathrow in the MMFF 2 yrs ago?). But as soon as the next scene (with the characterization of all protagonists) starts, you know this one was a great movie. Maricel as Vera deeply scarred from childhood as the next in line to head the family's business, was the best for me among the female artists. Ara as Richelle, was a revelation but her acting didnt capture the essence of a free-spirited Filipina-Chinese sibling. (at least it was a better deal than if Assunta de Rossi played the role during the original stages of the planning of the film). It was a different Kris Aquino as Juliet (who incidentally is also seen in Dekada 70 doing a cameo role) from the Kris that we are familiar with from her 630 pm game show. And we are sure about that. She plays a protective mother and a wife to an unfeeling Chinoy in Eric Quizon.

Eddie Garcia as Angkong was the usual Eddie Garcia. But the rest of the cast were wasted talent altogether, Tirso Cruz III, Gina Alajar, Eric Quizon and Richard Gomez (all 4 are already proven movie directors themselves), there is also Jay Manalo (straight acting and no bold scenes, take note) and the most underutilized, Boots Anson Roa, the Filipina married by the Chinese patriarch played by Eddie Garcia. One cant really give equal opportunities to such a truck load of talent.

The movie was able to tap the chinese moviegoers, or even those who rely on DVDs and VCDs (afraid of being kidnapped in public places) as the theatre was filled with Chinoys who had fits in the audio dubs of the characters. The subtitles were sometimes late. Much can be said about the editing. But overall, one will close their eyes to these technical difficiencies as we are not blessed often by quality acting, direction and storyline everytime all in one film. See "Mano Po" to believe.

Lastly, it is Mano Po - the film everyone should see this year. Wala bola yan. Totoo sabi ko. Ganda yan pelikula.