FILM REVIEW: D’LUCKY ONES


The Plot: Tina (Eugene Domingo) and Lea (Pokwang) are best friends who are also avid fans of Vilma Santos. They were inseparable until Lea decides to leave the country and go to Korea. They promise that someday they will really become one big happy family when their children get married. Years after, by virtue of an old vow, Lucky Girl (Sandara Park) and Lucky Boy (Joseph Bitangcol) are forced to be together by their mothers. Problem is, they hate each other’s guts. But, just when they’re falling for each other, love plays a trick on the meddling moms which threatens to bring the young lovers apart – IMDB (READ MORE)

The Reviews: D’Lucky Ones is one of those oddball, low budget comedies that still fill movie theaters in The Philippines. Hollywood would never make this movie, not because Americans have so much better tastes in films, but because it now costs too much to make B films (as they used to churn out in droves). That’s television’s job. Two best friends are both avid fans of actress Vilma Santos. They know her movies by heart. When one takes a job in South Korea, they promise that her daughter will marry the other one’s son when they both are old enough. They name the girl Lucky Girl and the boy Lucky Boy after one of Vilma’s children, Luis “Lucky” Manzano. Of course they don’t consult the children, who hate each other because of an incident they both remember differently, at a party when they were both young. When the one friend returns to The Philippines with her daughter, the girl is determined to get her revenge on Lucky Boy. What follows is a typical screwball sequence of events and misunderstandings. Lucky Girl winds up staying in the same apartment with Lucky Boy, to hide out from her mother and her plans to marry the girl to Lucky Boy, and doesn’t understand who Lucky Boy is, and gradually starts to fall in love with him. Lucky Boy, however, is working hard to get his revenge on Lucky Girl. He even gets her arrested for picking flowers at the entrance to Lunetta (Rizal Park). Considering the things that go on in the park, you’d think the police would have other things to worry about besides picking flowers, but it’s funny just for that.

Then there’s the silly subplot where the two friends, while trying to search for Lucky Girl, somehow fall in with a handsome young man, and both of them are fighting each other for his attention. It’s clear that he has no romantic interest in either one, who are both old enough to be his mother, but he’s hanging around as a friend. The two mothers go to a bar and join in a dance contest to impress the young man. They make their two children look incredibly mature by comparison. There’s one intense scene between Lucky Girl and her mother where Lucky Girl learns that her South Korean father abused her mother, and all the inlaws hated her because she was Filipino rather than Korean. Many times they would not allow her stay in the house with her daughter, but she begged for food on the streets. Watching Vilma Santos movies was her escape from this reality. This may also make Lucky Girl rethink her preference for living in South Korea over The Philippines (she’d been planning to return to the only country she knew as home. Heck, she only knew how to speak Tagalog from her mother forcing her to watch Vilma Santos movies.) The ending is obvious. Send the Vilma Santos fans to a Vilma Santos reunion party and get Ate Vi (Older Sister Vi) to patch up the two friends. And then everybody gets to dance. Hey, it’s The Philippines. Make sure you are better able to survive catastrophes than the crew and passengers of The Titanic. Get emergency preparedness kits now. Disabled and senior citizens need to check out an emergency medical alert system. – That Awesome TV (READ MORE)

“It’s obvious that ABS-CBN values Vilma Santos so much. After making a movie that is an unabashed tribute to her from start to finish, “D Lucky Ones,” they now feature her in the 15th anniversary presentation of “Maalaala Mo Kaya.” “We love Vi as she’s not only a nice person but also a true professional, a committed artist who loves her craft,” says Charo Santos, top ABSCBN executive and host of “Maalaala Mo Kaya.” “Fan na niya ako since her Vi and Bobot days and Iove seen her evolution as a person and as an actress. Kahanga-hanga talaga siya at ang kanyang magandang kalooban, it just radiates. You cannot fake that dahil galing talaga ‘yun sa loob. We’ve long been inviting her to guest in “Maalaala” and she was the one who gave us this story of Mrs. Daisy Hernandez, a mother so devoted to her eldest daughter who had cerebral palsy.” “I met Daisy at the SPED, special education school for special children, in Lipa,” says Ate Vi. “I met her daughter, April. Then I didn’t see her for sometime and I found April has died na pala. I told her to write down her story then I gave it to Malou Santos who thought of doing it for “Maalaala.” We started taping this last year, pero magka-conflict ang skeds namin ni Direk Olive Lamasan, so it took 6 and a half days to tape it over a period of one year at natiyempo sa anniversary ng ‘Maalaala’ at pang-Mother’s Day presentation pa.” “This is the show’s 777th episode,” adds Charo. “Maalaala has been made into a film in 1994 that gave awards to its stars, Aiko Melendez and Chin Chin Gutierrez. It has given the break to many directors like Wenn Deramas, Jerry Sineneng, Rory Quintos, Gilbert Perez, Mac Alejandre, Lauren Dyogi, Ricky Davao and Michael de Mesa. We’re proud to have Vi for our anniversary show that will be shown on May 4 and 11.” We’ve seen the preview of the episode, entitled “Regalo,” and it’s really a tearjerker that aims to wring your tearducts dry. Her fans will surely be proud of their idol anew as she shines in several scenes where she gets to deliver kilometric lines. It’s a great acting vehicle for any actress worth her salt and Ate Vi truly does justice to the role of a mother who does everything to support her disabled child only to lose her later to a viral infection. All throughout the death and wake of April” (convincingly played by Maja Salvador), Vilma is not shown crying at all. She finally breaks down after the funeral while talking to her husband (Ricky Davao, who’s equally great) and delivers some lines that will surely be added to the list of classic dialogues she has uttered in her past films and that were all used in “D Lucky Ones.” If you’re a parent with a special child, you’d be able to identify with her role. But even if you’re not, you’d still be affected by this true story of unconditional love and sacrifice. Incidentally, we finally got to see “D Lucky Ones” and we’d like to congratulate Director Wenn Deramas for succeeding to make us laugh. There are many hilarious scenes in the movie that even non-Vilmanians will appreciate, thanks to the fine performances of Eugene Domingo, Sandara Park and Pokwang. Eugene is the best among them as she doesn’t exert too much effort in tickling us. Sandy is also a natural comedienne, but Pokwang can go over the top at the times she should have been restrained a bit. The film has two highlights. First is the dance showdown between Eugene and Pokwang at the Phi Bar where they get to re-create the intricate production numbers Ate Vi used to do in her TV show. The second one is the film’s climax where Ate Vi makes a special guest appearance to reconcile the warring Eugene and Pokwang and then does a dance number with the entire cast. Most local comedies fail to make us laugh, but this one really works. – Charlie Gomez (READ MORE)

“Stand out sina Pokwang at Eugene Domingo sa D’ Lucky Ones, kung tutuusin supporting roles lamang sila dito. Nag-mukhang sina Sandara Park at Joseph Bitangcol ang supporting, dahil nadala nila ang tunay na ibig sabihin ng pagiging isang tagahanga. Litaw na litaw ang paghango ng mga linya mula sa mga pelikulang Sister Stella L., Bata, Bata Paano Ka Ginawa at iba pang pelikulang pinagbibidahan ni Ate Vi. Oo, sila nga ay die hard fans ni Vilma Santos, at dahil dito, ang pelikula ay isang Success. Well, it’s a crime to say that Pokwang and Domingo are supporting roles, in the first place, they are the ones who named their kids “Lucky”. Lucky girl and Lucky boy. How sweet ain’t it? Every single bit revolves around the two mothers, they practically OWN the movie, everytime they are on screen they demand presence. Especially, on the Vilma quote bits, they deliver each line right to the pulp. It was so hilarious because i’ve seen those films, and they’ve captured Vilma’s nuances and mannerisms.There was one part in the film when Eugene Domingo started quoting Vilma Santos in the film, Pahiram ng Isang Umaga, complete with the white free flowing dress, they even shot it on the beach, it’s oozing with cheese, it good, if you get my drift. If that wasn’t enough, they even had a dance showdown at a comedy bar, according to Pokwang, they’re just dancing just like Vilma did in the movie Burlesk Queen. Forget about Park and Bitangcol, the film belong to the two stars of all season. Majority of the jokes in the film will be lost in translation to those not familiar with Vilma’s films, and to this note, it is a film not for everyone.” – Eboy Donato (READ MORE)

“It’s been called the ?happiest movie? of this summer season, and indeed laughter rings out often and loudly in the movie house while “D’ Lucky Ones” is being shown. Much of the credit for the laughter and guffaws, as well as the charm and overall lighthearted feeling of the movie, goes to the tandem of Pokwang and Eugene Domingo. Playing a pair of die-hard Vilmanians (fans of Vilma Santos, for those out of the show-biz loop) who end up lifelong best friends who “pledge” their children to each other, the comediennes ham it up shamelessly and set the film’s blistering pace of razor-sharp dialog and comic antics. The two had previously made a name for themselves as “supporting” characters, comic foil to romantic leads or as “best friends” to beleaguered heroines. Most TV viewers, though, will remember them as “housemaids” in one telenovela and sitcom or another, a role that every aspirant in these parts needs to nail, it seems, before she can join the comic sorority. They might have been stuck indefinitely in this purgatory of second leads had it not been for “D’ Lucky Ones,” a movie that puts them front and center, gives them plenty of room and screen time to show off their chops, and allows them to mouth lines that parody the most memorable scenes from Ate Vi’s body of work-at once familiar and risible.

While the “lucky ones” in the movie are actually Sandara Park and Joseph Bitangcol, who play Pokwang’s and Eugene’s “Lucky Girl” and “Lucky Boy” respectively, the movie really centers around the mothers, who so dominate and beguile that I found myself distressed and bothered each time the movie left them and devoted time to the “love story” angle. I’M sorry to say that Park and Bitangcol, notwithstanding their “real-life” romantic relationship, hardly register any chemistry between them. Park is difficult to understand, since she has a tendency to let her Filipino lines run together. Bitangcol has yet to feel at ease before the camera, since his acting seems to consist mainly of poses and facial mannerisms. At times, one can even catch him sneaking a furtive look at the camera when he shouldn’t. So it’s safe to say that the movie succeeds despite them, which is why I hope producers don’t attribute any magical box-office prowess to the youngsters. Instead, they should pay attention to the newly gained clout of Pokwang and Domingo who, like Ai-Ai de las Alas, labored in obscurity before proving that screen charisma has little to do with an actor’s looks or figure, and everything to do with the ability to connect with the audience. Perhaps it also helps that “D’ Lucky Ones” takes a fond look at fandom, an occupational hazard for any consumer of entertainment fare, and the lengths fans go just to pay homage to their object of affection, adoration and adulation. The “Nora” and “Vilma” fans are particularly fascinating, since the two women commanded extraordinary levels of loyalty in their heyday and even today, no matter the intriguing twists and turns of their life stories.

MY friend Peachy and I-whom I roped into watching “D’Lucky Ones” after all family members refused my importuning-had an interesting discussion about the nature of Vilmanians and Noranians. We both agreed that the overall tone of the movie, which is “happy” and “sunny” and pastel-toned, wouldn’t have been possible if it had been about Nora’s fans. And this is because Nora’s oeuvre is dominated by darker and grimmer movies that don’t lend themselves easily to comic parody or satire. I consider myself a Noranian, but the film turned me into a Vilmanian, and when Ate Vi no less turned up at the movie’s finale, I felt a thrill, vicariously diving into Pokwang’s and Eugene’s obsession. I also felt a surge of appreciation and gratitude for the work of Vilma and Nora, who have dominated show business in the last decades, coming up with a truly admirable line-up of movies, showing courage in their choice of new challenges and off-beat characters, and maintaining a hold on their fans’ affections. Fans can be pests, that’s true. They tend to take their “ownership” over their idols much too seriously, to the extent of stalking them, dictating their love lives and setting up outsize expectations. But over the years, they can provide a source of affirmation and validation, especially when the bloom of one’s stardom has started to fade. Neither is this a one-way street. As Pokwang’s character reveals, watching Vilma’s movies and tracking her career provided her the only source of solace in the years she spent as a contract wife in Korea, looked down upon by her in-laws and reduced to a superfluity. Indeed, amid the vexations of daily life, being a fan provides escape and entertainment, another level of reality and a pleasant diversion. Not a bad bargain, that.” – Rina Jimenez, April 30, 2006 (READ MORE)

“…I have no question about the talents of Eugene Domingo and Pokwang when it comes to making people laugh. They know how to deliver. They give good punchlines. They can make both a simple dialogue or an already very funny line to come to terms with their humor altogether. Their characters as big Vilma Santos fans who have vowed to marry their children when the right time comes work for the comedy. But the thing is, removing all the other characters in the movie, the comedy can stand alone with Eugene and Pokwang only. Candy contributes to the humor but her character is not a vital thing in the story. Sandara doesn’t give the right timing to deliver a dramatic line or transcend the needed emotion for a scene. Nevertheless, her ‘krung-krung’ aura adds up to the comedy. Joseph has a very superficial acting. He has no depth for his character and he seems to just read and deliver his lines coming from the script. JR Valentin’s role is obviously made for the fun and for that added spice to the story’s conflict. He seems like the usual sex object exploited in the big screen (this time the sex object is a guy!) and he seems to work after all. He knows how to carry himself for the scenes without upstaging or downstaging Eugene and Pokwang. He blends with them for his sex object role. The dance numbers remind me of the 80′s flicks where such production numbers are always present in a number of flicks of the era. It’s like the 80′s dance numbers meet present day novelty songs. They are fun and the masses seem too enjoy it well. The production design and lighting department are not so impressing for this movie. Eugene’s face has not changed a bit during the flashback scenes. Additional effort for the make-up could have saved it. The room of Joseph looks newly-arranged by the art department. The set and props all look brand new when in reality, some things should have looked a bit crumpled or fading. But the funny wardrobe of Pokwang and Eugene looks effective for the genre. The editing is not seemless. Though for just a few seconds, I have noticed an overexposed shot after the bus scene. The closeup shot of Sandara during a dramatic scene with Pokwang is out of focus…” – Rianne Hill Soriano (READ MORE)

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