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07 July 2011

Chris Martinez's Remake of Joey Gosiengfiao's "Temptation Island" (Review): Tempting but not Addicting

“If it is not broken, don’t fix it.”  In the case of the original “Temptation Island,” as wickedly directed by Joey Gosiengfiao, the film is ridiculously flawed in terms of its production and logic but the film’s brilliance lies in its imperfection.  Thus, should “Temptation Island” deserve a remake? The original may not have been intentionally made as a straight comedy but more of a sexploitation foray, but still, the film’s nonsensical storyline and inadvertent humor made it addicting to watch, especially to current generations of moviegoers.  Just remember that the best camp classics have always started as serious filmmaking ventures.   

In 1980, films like “Temptation Islands” were not groundbreaking.  As exemplified in another Joey Gosiengfiao movie, “Bomba Star,” it was not uncommon to see a sexy starlet half naked and running in the rice field, and with just her arms to cover her braless bosoms.   In “Bomba Star,” Alma Moreno did such an unintentionally hilarious feat. After running half naked, she winded up dipping her naked body in mud, then quickly standing up with her body covered in gooey mud. It was the only way to cloth her but still make her appear naked enough to rouse the libido of sex-starved male moviegoers.  Back then, it was considered risqué but now, it is ludicrously comical.  I don’t think even Lady Gaga would wear mud as her outfit.  Alma Moreno was never thought of as a comedy genius then and now, but if you have a chance to watch her in “Bomba Star,” you would think she was Ruffa Mae Quintos doing an experimental comedy. 

In the same movie, the catfight in the bathtub between award winning dramatic actresses like Celia Rodriguez and Marisa Delgado, who were both dressed in negligees, was flat out absurdly sexy, side-splittingly funny and, I dare say, very gay.  Could it be possible that the great Joey Gosiengfiao was making serious movies but ending up creating future camp classics?  I am just guessing because I am way too young to remember the 1980s.  Thanks to ABS-CBN’s Cinema One cable channel, I was introduced to films like “Bomba Star,” and “Temptation Island” in the 1990s.  These films are so different from the comedy movies in recent years.  The best made comedies in Philippine cinemas I think were in the 1970s and early 1980s.  Classics like Ishmael Bernal’s “Tisoy,” and Mike De Leon’s “Kakabakaba Ka ba?” were not only hilarious but intelligently made.  The actors were playing it straight. They were not trying to be overtly funny and as such, the jokes were not forced but came out naturally.  Thankfully, Joyce Bernal gave us “Booba,” a movie that restored my faith in Philippine comedy. Then Miss Bernal did it again in the smartly made “Kimmy Dora,” which was made even funnier by Eugene Domingo’s comedic talent and Joyce Bernal’s précised editing. 

This year’s remake of Joey Gosiengfiao’s “Temptation Island” is a commendable homage to the original classic but the remake fails in comparison to the original film’s unintentional campiness.  Chris Martinez’s version is like a nice cover of a classic dance song.  The production value may be better, the budget and cast bigger but some things cannot be replicated. 

Chris Martinez was wise enough not to deviate too much from the original and so making the new version enjoyable enough. Sadly, to those people who did not see the original, the new “Temptation Island” may be a hoot but it lacks the Joey Gosiengfiao’s campy magic and the original film’s unapologetic bitchiness. 

Marian Rivera’s performance borders on tolerable to inconsistent. Her delivery of jokes sometimes seems contrived and lacking in timing and so she makes it up with over the top movements and loud screams.  Fortunately, the Marian charisma still manages to ooze out.  Heart Evangelista is stunning but her performance is as dry and bare as the desert she walked on. But she did shine in her 5-minute dramatic scene.  Solenn Heussaff is gorgeously statuesque but we only remember she exists when she’s on screen and blocking our view. But she’s a neophyte so she has plenty of time to learn.  Lovi Poe gave the most layered and somewhat slight altered interpretation of the original role played by Jennifer Cortez.  Poe stands out with her olive skin among the fair skinned beauties.  You could say that she almost nailed her part right. John Lapus is, once again, John Lapus but we can forgive him because no one can beat the superb performance of Jonas Sebastian, a performance accentuated by his perfect delivery and impeccable bitchy American accent.  The men in the films are total waste of space unless they are showing skin. Frankly, Aljur Abrenica’s Century Tuna Hotdog ad is more convincing.  The rest of the male casts are probably not worth mentioning. But wait, a question, “why is one of the male cast members advertising underwear in the movie? Is it product placement I see before me?”

But the real scene stealer in the film is Ruffa Mae Quinto. She did not give a groundbreaking performance. It was still Ruffa Mae being Ruffa Mae the comedienne but still, she got the loudest laughs considering she is playing a supporting role. Hooray for true comedians! Booba lives! 

Bottom line, go watch the new “Temptation Island,” it will be a big hit, whether I like it or not.  If you ask me, this film would have been radically funny, if John Lapus’ character had survived, constructed a makeshift boat, left the island alone and headed to New Zealand with his piano. It would be better for his cause to leave the rest of the cast to finish the film by symbolically devouring each other.  Another option is to make a film of the play version of the movie with all the cast played by men in drag. Just imagine Ogie Alcasid playing the Lovi Poe character and Michael V playing Marian's character. 

The old and new “Temptation Island” may be funny but they are still furtively and dangerously suppressive because they hide their true agenda.  And Chris Martinez fell in the trap by propagating an agenda that he himself may not even know.  What is the agenda? It is staring us right in the face? If we do not see it, then we’re “idiotas.” Now, don’t mind me for being a bitch with this review of mine, “after all, what are bitches for but to bitch around other bitches.”  Consider this my tribute to Joey Gosiengfiao’s original masterpiece.

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