"Mano Po" is a series of films produced by Regal Films that was dedicated to telling stories about Filipino-Chinese (or Chinoy) community. I had seen that first one in 2002 that starred Maricel Soriano and Kris Aquino as sisters. That one swept the Metro Manila Filmfest awards that year, if I am not mistaken. I had seen some of these sequels, but the following films did not really match the critical and box office success of the first one.
Prior to this one, the "Mano Po 6" starring Sharon Cuneta was shown back in 2009. It is Regal Films 50th Anniversary this year, so the Monteverdes wanted this latest episode to be their entry in the Metro Manila Filmfest, like the others before it. However, due to changes in judging parameters, this one (directed by Ian Lorenos and written by Senedy Que) did not make it to the Magic 8. Regal decided to release it a week before the festival instead. I'm not sure why they subtitled this one "Chinoy", when all the films in the series were already about Chinoys.
I wanted to watch this film because for once a real Chinoy actor is in the lead, Richard Yap. I thought this would certainly up the authenticity of the film, which did not always do well previously due to casting of talented but obviously non-Chinoy actors, like Vilma Santos. Sharon Cuneta, Zsazsa Padilla, or Angel Locsin as leads. As a result, the Fookienese Chinese dialog, one of the unique features of this series, sounded stilted and awkward.
The Wongs have been married for 25 years. Wilson (Richard Yap) has been too engrossed with his upscale real estate business, and his wife Deborah (Jean Garcia) feels she is being ignored. The eldest child, and only boy, Wilson Jr. (Enchong Dee) is their black sheep, a bum and drug addict who frequently brought shame to the family. Their daughter Carol (Janella Salvador) is a music student majoring in cello at the university, but really wanted to take up voice instead. The subplots about Wilson's wife and children unfortunately felt generic and contrived, and not uniquely Chinoy. These issues have been tackled in many other local films before.
Richard Yap gets to speak not only Fookienese here, but also Mandarin. Even if the character he is playing is the stereotype cold Chinese businessman, I feel this is the best performance I have seen him in, thanks to his connection with the language of the script. I usually see him as stiff and uncomfortable in his TV roles. But here, his scenes with his Chinese co-stars playing his mother and his auntie were all on point.
Garcia, Dee and Salvador do well, but are limited by the way their characters were written. They all had dramatic highlights which they performed well, as we have seen them play on TV. I felt it was a waste how Dee was not made to deliver lines in Fookienese as well. I think this would have made their father and son confrontation scenes better. I guess this is also to show how the younger generation is losing touch with their Chinese heritage, even in strictly traditional households. The role of the youngest daughter Catherine (played by a miscast Jana Agoncillo) did not seem necessary at all.
The roles played by Jake Cuenca (as Deborah's customer Marco) and Kean Cipriano (as Carol's music teacher Mr. Denver Vera) were obvious from their first scenes, as with Marlo Mortel (as Carol's classmate Henry). We have seen them play these characters on TV before. Jessy Mendiola felt totally wrong in her role as Jocelyn Lee, a girl Wilson Jr. met in the drug rehab facility. Her sexy scenes with Dee were out of place in the film. Eric Quizon though connected very well with his role of Wilson's estranged older brother Jason.
For me the best performer in the whole film was the incandescent Rebecca Chuaunsu who played Wilson's mother Erlinda. I do not think I had seen her act before on TV or other films, but her screen presence here was simply so radiant, outshining her other more famous co-actors. I recognize several strong Chinoy senior ladies I know and love in her effective and moving portrayal of her dignified character and in her delivery of those lines brimming with wisdom. She never became over-melodramatic, which was refreshing.
Those flashback scenes in sepia still resonate with nostalgic effect, as they did in previous "Mano Po" films. With the number of film in the series, there are already repetitions with regards to the Chinoy customs shown, like the engagement ceremony. Those scenes of the family visiting the elaborate Buddha Memorial Center in Kaoshiung, Taiwan felt like a travelogue only with no distinct dramatic purpose in the storytelling.
Overall though, I still liked this film basically on the strength of those beautifully-scripted scenes involving Wilson and his mother Erlinda. These scenes were written in the Fookienese language, and for the first time in "Mano Po" history, we hear the lines in the dialect authentically delivered by the actors. The emotional impact of these scenes are very strong and touching. These scenes elevated this movie and gave it a special flavor. 6/10.
UPDATE: February 7, 2017
Translated into Chinese (care of Mr. Kevin Lee) and published in local Chinese newspapers today in time for the return engagement of this film in cinemas tomorrow due to insistent public demand:
"吻手" 系列電影是在講述有關菲律賓華人 (或稱菲華人) 社會中的故事。我第一次看這系列的電影是在2002年，那時的演
員是Maricel Soriano和Kris Aquino，她們在電影中飾演姐妹的角色。如果我沒記錯，那部 電影當時榮獲了馬尼拉電影節的眾多獎項。之後我也有再看那部電影 的續集，不過續集並沒有像首集如此的成功及精彩。
周年慶，因此Monteverdes製片人想以這部最新的續集電 影進入馬尼拉電影節，就像之前幾集一樣。但是因為電影審核規定有 更改，這部電影 (導演Ian Lorenos，編劇Senedy Que) 很可惜並沒有成功進入Magic 8的八大電影。帝王娛樂決定在聖誕節的前一周上映此電影。我不太 清楚為什麼他們將這部片的副標題定為"菲華人"（Chinoy） ，因為這系列的電影本來就都是在講有關菲華人的故事了。
rd Yap是個真正的菲華人，我認為這樣絕對會更增添電影的真實性。 之前幾部影集的演員（像是Vilma Santos、Sharon Cuneta、Zsa Zsa Padilla或飾演女主角的Angel Locsin）雖然很有才華，但很明顯的一看就不是菲華人，所以 感覺還是差了那麼一點。華語的方言之一福建話是這系列電影的特色 之一，那些不是菲華人的演員在片中講的福建話聽起來就很奇怪而不 自然。
王氏家庭已經結婚25年了。Wilson (Richard Yap飾) 太專注於他的高檔房地產事業，全心投入其中，因此他太太Debo
rah (Jean Garcia飾) 覺得自己被丈夫冷漠了。他們唯一的兒子Wilson Jr. (Enchong Dee飾) 是個敗家子。他吸毒成癮、遊手好閒，總是帶給王家負面的影響。W ilson的女兒 Carol (Janella Salvador飾) 是主修大提琴的大學生，但其實她很想選擇唱歌的。 整體編劇上很可惜的，Wilson 太太和孩子的問題這條劇情支線感覺有點普通且不自然，而且並不像 一般菲華人家庭中會出現的情況。這些片中的問題和情況其實在之前 其他的本地電影中就有被討論到了。
演的角色是個很老套傳統的冷血華商，我卻感覺這是我看過他所有演 出中表現最傑出的一次，這也多虧了劇本中的中文台詞設計。我通常 看到他在電視劇中演出的角色都是呆板而不自在的，但是這一次他和 其他飾演他媽媽和阿姨的華人演員的每一幕演得都很到位。
揮有限，但也是表現良好。他們在電視劇中的演出都有引人注目的亮 點。我覺得Dee在片中沒有福建話的台詞很可惜，也許這會使他爸 爸和兒子在面對那些場景時更自在。我猜這也顯示了年輕一代的菲華 人已經漸漸失去了傳統的中華文化，即使是在很傳統的菲華人家庭也 是一樣。片中小女兒Catherine的角色 (Jana Agoncillo飾演，感覺角色安排不當) 其實是有點多餘的。
Jake Cuenca (飾演Deborah的客戶Marco) 和Kean Cipriano (飾演Carol的音樂教授 Denver) 飾演的角色很明顯地是從他們第一次和Marlo Mortel (飾演Carol的同學Henry) 演出的場景來的。我們之前就有在電視劇上看過他們演這些角色了。
Jessy Mendiola 在片中飾演Wilson Jr. 在戒毒所遇到的女孩子，演得有點糟糕。她那幾幕和Dee 的性感鏡頭在電影中完全不恰當。不過Eric Quizon在片中飾演和Wilson疏遠的哥哥Jason，感 覺就連接得很到位。
da。我之前沒有看過她在電視劇或其他電影中的演出情況，但這次 她在這部電影中的演出是如此的耀眼驚豔，完全超越了其他一些有名 氣的演員。我個人很佩服幾位實力堅強的菲華人女士，而這位Reb ecca Chuaunsu女士，我喜歡她在片中講著那充滿智慧的台詞，她 以令人印象深刻又令人感動的演技描繪出她在片中所飾演的高貴角色 。她的演出令人耳目一新而不過度誇張。
呈現出懷舊的效果及感覺。不過因為此系列影集已經出了很多部， 在菲華人傳統風俗文化（像是傳統的訂婚儀式） 上已經做了許多呈現，因此片中Wilson家庭去參訪台灣高雄的 佛光山佛陀紀念館的場景感覺就像旅遊紀錄片一樣， 在整個故事情節中沒有明顯的用意。
的場景中美麗的台詞及張力來看，我仍然喜歡這部電影。那幾幕場景 中的語言是福建話，這是在"吻手"系列的電影中史前無例的， 我們可以親耳聽到演員們講著道地的福建話台詞。另外這幾幕場景不 但帶給我們強烈且令人感動的感情衝擊，也提昇了這部電影的水平和 層次，並且也使這部電影有另一翻特別的風味。