Metro Manila Film Festival

Top 10 Things Wrong With Mainstream Filipino Movies

1. Most Filipino movies do not have characters, they have caricatures. 

Characters in Filipino movies are usually ripped right off the pages of Scriptwriting 101 and are rarely based on real people. There’s the Cheating Husband, the Long Suffering Wife/Mother/Female Figure, the Vile Mistress, the Kontrabida (“Villain”), the Young Ingénue, the Love Team, the Macho Playboy Action Hero, the Sidekick, the Poor Virtuous Hero/Heroine who Triumphs Over Everything, the Rebellious Teen, the Precocious Child etc. etc.  We particularly loathe the Sidekick who apparently has nothing better to do with his or her life except to follow and comment on the lead characters’ lives.

2. Most Filipino movies are filled with actors and actresses who cannot act. 

As a general rule, acting requires actors to know how to demonstrate a number of expressions and gestures to convey a variety of emotions.  This is not necessary in the Philippines. Most Filipino actors only have one facial expression to depict anger, triumph, sadness, happiness or frustration.  We call it the “OMG I’m constipated” look, because of the fact that the actor looks, well, constipated. Dingdong Dantes is a known practitioner. (See here, here, and here.)

And also, no, being hot doesn’t count as acting.

3. Most Filipino movies do not have plots.  They are a series of “quotable quotes” cobbled together to bear some resemblance to a real movie in a freaky, ugly, Frankensteinish way. 

We’re big fans of “quotable quotes”, really, but a movie cannot be made up of mostly over-the-top, cheesy, dramatic lines.  It’s tiring, it’s silly and it sacrifices plot for unrealistic stupidity.

4. Most Filipino movies are a rehash of a handful of plots we’ve seen ten billion times before. 

You know what we need? Another unfunny romantic comedy where the guy gets the girl in the end.  We seriously need another one of those.

Here’s another original idea:  They can make the guy and the girl not like each other at the start, then like each other in the end.  I’m sure that plot point has never been done, like, ten jillion times before, all over the world.

Wait, wait here’s the best, most original idea in the world: we can make another Enteng Kabisote film because, apparently, we hate ourselves.

5. Most Filipino movies are cheap, crappy rip-offs of expensive Hollywood movies/shows. 

For added cruel inventiveness, a Filipino movie can be a rip-off of two expensive Hollywood movies/shows fused together to make one freakishly ugly baby.

Desperadas 2

If movies were people, this would be the ugly lovechild of Sex and the City and Desperate Housewives.

6. Most Filipino comedies aren’t funny. 

Or they can start out funny, then the big producers would make sequel after sequel where they would rehash the same joke over and over again until it stops being funny and just becomes annoying. Case in point: Ang Tanging Ina, Ang Tanging Ina N’yong Lahat, Ang Tanging Ina Mo (Last Na ‘To), and Enteng ng Ina Mo.

7.  Most Filipino dramas are unintentionally funny. 

Seriously funny. They should start marketing dramas as comedies from now on.

8.  Filipino action heroes. 

Filipino action heroes have the following superpowers:  a) they never get hit by a bullet (or anything that resembles a projectile that might actually hurt) even when everyone else around them dies; b) they attract girls whose looks and age are inversely proportional to theirs; and c) they can say cheesy, stupid “quotable quotes” with a straight face.

Case in point: Mark Lapid, the king of silly, cheesy “quotable quotes” for his acting stint in “Tatlong Baraha (Three Cards)”.  Seriously, you have to give him mad props for saying this with a straight face the “OMG I’m constipated” look.

9.       Our politicians star in crappy Filipino movies.

Bong Revilla Panday

That guy holding that puny sword and wearing that “OMG I’m constipated” look is currently a Senator of the Republic of the Philippines.  He is also planning to run for Vice President in the upcoming elections. We are doomed.

10.  The Metro Manila Film Festival. 

Umm, yea.

11. Bonus:

The worst thing about Filipino cinema today is that Filipinos, notwithstanding the general stupidity of the type of local movies depicted above, still lap up this crap. We never learn.

63 thoughts on “Top 10 Things Wrong With Mainstream Filipino Movies

  1. showerfoam

    Umm… you can literally say the same about cinema from every part of the world, including your “precious” Hollywood.

    Caricatures? Check. (By the way, they’re called tropes. And they’ve been used as devices for storytelling since ancient times) Actors/actresses who cannot act? Check. Plotless movies built around a tiny premise? Check. Rehashed plots? Check. Rip-offs from different countries? Check. (Though most of the time, they have the money to buy the rights and call it a remake) Unfunny comedies? Are you kidding? Check check. Unintentional comedy in drama? Check! Action heroes? Is Steven Segal really any better? Are Schwarzenegger’s lines any less cheesy because they’re in English? Check. Politicians starring in movies? You calling out the Philippines only for this tells me you haven’t seen enough movies outside your dibidi dealer’s collection. The Metro Manila Film Festival? Yeah, Hollywood calls it the Golden Globes (along other nonsense awards).

    And as a bonus. Yeah, Americans, Filipinos and everyone in the world still lap these up.

    Before you turn on the snark for web hits and traffic, do your research on cinema first. Picking on Philippine cinema is too easy. Even for a hired hack.

  2. showerfoam

    My choice of words, in retrospect, were a bit harsh (especially towards the last part). And I do apologize.

    It’s just that I think when it comes to Philippine cinema, those who bash it will always outnumber those who defend it. It has become a punching bag for snark and for people who’ve seen good, thought-provoking local cinema– sweeping generalization does not aid it in any way.

    I do apologize again, particularly for the “hack” comment. I had no right to say that.

  3. vonbryan_c@yahoo.com

    Hahaha, no need to apologize. Snark tends to attract snark. Honestly, this post is targeted at mainstream Filipino film producers who appear to be resting on their laurels. There are a lot of commercially viable Filipino films out there which I love, e.g., Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros, Mga Mumunting Lihim, Zombadings, etc.

  4. showerfoam

    It’s the fast food style system in place in filmmaking here and elsewhere. Produce content as fast and as cheap as possible using all the tried and tested products. From time to time, you will get a perfectly cooked burger that works on all levels even if it’s one of from a batch of a thousand. But you will need to seek out the really good handcrafted burger, if you want something different. But it doesn’t mean it’s not out there. Sorry, I didn’t mean to turn this into a food metaphor.

    But anyway, seeing here that two people can disagree on cinema and articulate it without resorting to gibberish means a proper discourse on Philippine cinema just needs to begin. A comment section with an actual proper conversation? I think we just broke the Internet, sir.

    More power to your blog. All the best!

  5. Ken

    / Love this blog post and your blog! And I agree with what you said here. It is, in fact, so annoying to see mainstream Filipino in its current state. I was hoping, though, that you’d mention how one particular movie company keeps on building on and titling their “movies” with English song titles. Ughhh! Complete with soundtrack! hahahahhaha

  6. Von Bryan Cuerpo Post author

    Thanks! That’s a good point actually. Should’ve included that. :-)

  7. PambansangWicca

    With regard to action movies, I guess that is exactly the reason why this genre of Filipino movies has died completely. It relied way too much on well-received formula by the popular masses that even its very target market got tired of seeing different actors portray the same characters in different-titled movies but with the same plot. Though I understand the major film outfits inspiration of box-office when making their movies, this aim normally limits them to making movies with themes that are, through history, been effective in attracting the movie-goers and not so much in conveying what they truly believe a good movie should be.

    There are a few excellent Filipino movies though that I’ve seen during the last 10 years which were produced by major film production. I think the producers need to realize that the movie-goers now are smarter and more discriminating. There’s no need to keep on making films based on what they think ONLY the viewers can comprehend. I think good art can be popular art.

  8. vonbryan_c@yahoo.com

    I agree. I’m not looking for over-the-top ART naman, but it would be nice if large movie outfits would at least attempt to produce something decent.

  9. Ra Flores

    same things can be said of our teleseryes. palagi na lang may nagka-amnesia, nagkapalit na heredera, pretty boy falls for disfigured girl – nakakasawa na. sad to say yung mga mainstream directors and actors natin think that histrionics equal good acting – mas maraming dialogue, mas malakas ang sigaw at mas maraming luha mas ok. tsaka napansin nyo ba laging maganda at pogi ang ayos ng mga artista natin? hinahabol na ng serial killer ang ayos pa rin ng buhok at makeup. o kaya poor countryside lass tapos belo-vified at rebonded so yung believability nawawala.

  10. Von Bryan Cuerpo Post author

    That’s true, but soap operas do have a history of over-the-top plots and acting.

  11. PambansangWicca

    I so agree with Ra Flores’s comment regarding teleseryes. A lot of US TV series use a plethora of TV tropes. But here in the country, it’s always limited to the overused plot of switching-at-birth, cheating couples, land-grabbing, revenge, and “tunay na pagkatao”. And this is regardless of whether its a fantaserye or plain primetime drama.

  12. Pingback: Five Movies To Watch In Cinemalaya 2013 - The Manila Survival Guide

  13. Lee

    kudos to the author for a very good article, Spot on! well its like Hollywood in a way and i can say the same on Bollywood and all the other woods out there but the philippine cinema is beyond worse… dont even get me started on their acting…

  14. penatbater

    I kinda wish nga there’d be like a season-basis for our teleserye, in that ratings or approvals of the first (or first few) seasons will dictate whether they’ll continue it or not.

  15. Aaayeeesssa

    Yup, mainstream movies are really those which are simply made to make money out of a famous celebrity, and at times they build a plot around those famous people and their love teams(i.e, vice ganda, kimxian), and the formulated plot for it(but, it is called MAINSTREAM for a reason). Mainstream is always something formulated to satisfy the taste of the masses. But, it is not like it the only thing out there we also have this side of our Philippine Cinema, that is very creative and beautiful and gathering international awards….. Yeah, so, just think of it like this, Mainstream are designers, who prioritizes their clients wants and needs, while the Indie are the artists, who creates for themselves and for the sake of beauty and art itself.

  16. Stephen

    If one thing is proven, it goes to show that history “really” repeats itself. Yes, the plot(s) is(are) a(already) native culture. Film viewers aside, our comments doesn’t count as long as it is earning bucks. In terms of the “demand – supply relationship” well, they (producers, writers, et cetera) won’t cook your favorite dish if it is not your favorite. It is unfortunate for Filipino indie films which, probably not-that-so-expensive compared to yeah, the talent fee(s) of a multitude of stars, which really tells a story. If I was asked this question, “what does Filipino mainstream films lack?” I’d say, the uniqueness of each. Say, something to remember like of what happened and I’m not referring to “charred lines”. I also asked myself despite all that bashing, why does it(the topic) and still sells? Maybe because it is not the film in itself is appreciated, but the actors of these films. It really is Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. cheers

  17. Valf

    i think the old PH movies are better than the movies made today…

    In my opinion one of the best comedy movies made are “Humanap ka ng Pangit”, “AB Normal College”, and “Petrang Kabayo (Roderick Paulate version)”…..even though its a comedy film the drama and action scenes are way better than the mainstream…

    And the most annoying part of PH movies today is the one they call “kilig” scenes… I don’t get what they like about it… I just feel “meh” watching it… I regret the day i chose to go with my friends on watching those kind of movie… i rather watch River Monsters of Discovery Channel

  18. Lusty

    the mainstream movies are crap… but the ones i am proud of are the indie films that barely get recognized. it wins internationally but still can’t make an impact on home soil. it is sad. everytime you see a poster from a movie you already know what’s going to happen. oh and good looks = you are a good actor. one more thing i despise is that the fans of the actors and not the film defend it like it’s the best their is and when i give a critic they always say “ikaw nalang kaya mag direct!” . we are the audience, it is my (our) right to give our opinion and and it’s actors’/directors/ scriptwriters job to impress us. if we end up not liking it, they’re the ones who even get mad.

  19. nash

    Mainstream = Money, if not, why bother.putting it there. Filmmakers make movies that would sell. Not exactly movies that would please everybody.

  20. Louise

    #2. They always look perfect. Character experiencing excruciating pain? A few tear drops without scrunching the face should do it. Just woke up? Already has make up and hair is glossy and shiny. Is from a family of farmers who lives in a barrio? White complexion, rebonded hair, wears at least blush and lipstick.

    And all villains laugh in a sinister demented way.

  21. Ephraim E. Despabiladeras

    Hello!! The Globe Globes is not a festival. The Hollywood Foreign Press merely hands out these awards, which are called the Golden Globes.

  22. vonbryan_c@yahoo.com

    Yup, meron naman. 😀 Especially the older ones. But I think I like indies more now, particularly the comedies.

  23. theasianambutterfly

    Have to agree with the main point, but it doesn’t mean that other parts of the world can not fall into the wrong side as well.
    To be honest, the PH Cinema, as well as Television, should focus more on the story & character development. Well, not being rude or anti-anything, but sometimes foreign productions can be a thousand time worse than PH productions… Just saying.

  24. ninjatuna

    This about sums up my disappointment on how things work in the movie industry in the Philippines..nothing new nothing exciting just recycled crap.

  25. Raphael

    uh i just want to say that majority of the films you pointed out are for the “masa.” I am not defending or objecting on your blog. By all means i agree with you hands down. But what i also want to point out is that it is meant for the masa, and true that producers are credible (some are anyway) to create good filipino mainstream films, ( hopefully) they take into account as to the profit they will be making. As making a film is very expensive. And if they experiment like a new plot or something new that the people ( I mean even us at the working or higher classes despise watching our own local films ( majority of them) they wont risk losing alot of money as well we can’t unlike bollywood or hollywood wherein a box office flop isnt too much of a disadvantage. Unlike ours.

    But in anycase Kudos on your thoughts about our mainstream film.

  26. Ric

    I think you just made the point for the author. Those “good, thought-provoking local cinema” you refer to are the exception – very few, and far between – and not the industry standard.

  27. Pingback: Redefining The Role Of The Metro Manila Film Festival: Learning From Cinemalaya - The Manila Survival Guide

  28. devonair0308

    Well foreigners have very handsome method actors( Robert deniro, Daniel day lewis, Christian Bale, Robert downey jr, tom hanks, even brad pitts acting is improving,, what do we have, besides jericho rosales (his a gud actor not great) and it is still hard for our local actors to even compare to them especially the level of dedication they put in to there acting especially some getting skinny and getting fat for a role.. Do we even have a actresses who can compare to meryl streep? What about our actors to the british actors? TV series are great abroad..What about Friends, Walking dead, Prison break, HOUSE, Game of thrones etc. Even foreign films are doing gud Ong bak. from thailand. 3 idiots from india. Lost in thailand from china. Crouching tiger hidden dragon. What movie can we compare to this juggernauts. private benjamin. tanging ina mo? Kung fu divas? Although there r some gud films Like one more chance(thats the only one na may sense and some 80’s movies and the indies movies that are fantastic.. we cant even compare to the foreigners. Dont start with the production fee. Vietnam is the number one pirated country in the world and They made a gud movie called The rebel. And thailand has piracy but they also make gud movies and they have cheaper production cost then us. Some people in high places just want boytoys and girltoys and a lot of money to travel. And not worry about the masses because there brainless, because they’ll love it anyway. What happen to the striaght male and female.? What happen to auidtioning? Ngayon all u need is a backer and a suger gay daddy to enter showbiz. The last straight director was a woman who directed Jose Rizal and that was 1995. After that 90 percent is queer. now. Showbiz is ruled by the queer. But its hard to challenge them because there really gud in mingling with people, yet i heard when yur a guy u gotta feed yur needs. kaya im sure, and dnt get me wrong.. even the straight directors use there power and influence to get girls.. i’m not being bias to any genders just keeping it real. Kaya showbiz is dirty. So the gud ones lose hope because why bother to study acting when i can just open doors by just sleeping with people. Thats the dark side of showbiz. Our showbiz industry is all about who knows who. But then again thats applicable to other places as well. So showbiz has to really re-evaluate itself and sacrifice. Some director from abroad really care about a film to the point they’ll sleep in there car just to make the film he/she envisioned, while here, some famous directors have expensive cars and house and lot and have boytoys by there side. But i guess thats okay they worked for it. If we want to change. sometimes all we should just do is sacrifice and get the job done. I dont know how.. i’m just a critic. But i pray that people will stand up and make a difference someday so that one day. even some caucasian guy from canada. would say i love yur films. dnt understand it.. but thanks to the subtitiles i came to love your films. peace out…

  29. devonair0308

    PS there was a filipino film.. in my opinion is one of the best made filipino film and deserves recognition. the music, the cinematography story and plot(it was base on a true story) was “Rosario” a 2010 filipino movie. A very beautiful film in my opinion should have won all the awards sa MMDA but because it was a TV5 film production it didnt win, and the lead actress(jennalyn mercado) and directorial debut director (Albert martinez) were not nominated. Because it was not a channel 2 or channel 7 film. Guys watch Rosario, and you’ll see why it deserves the accolades. Tapos it was second best picture, while the best picture was Ang tanging Ina mo (last na toh) and winner of best actress was Ai Ai delas Alas Ang tanging ina mo(last na toh).. C’mon it won over a very beautiful film Rosario where u can endorse it to foreigners for being a nice film. Kaya its not who you are, it’s who you know in the filipino showbiz. I hope the industry can make a difference and try to seek films and tv shows to educate and make films that we can be proud of.. Give the recognition to the people and films that deserve it.

  30. theronrighton

    I definitely agree on your post. Nowadays, people can’t come up with something original. I’m actually generalizing all people, although Filipino has been a copycat from the start. Admit it. We can’t come up with something that is not a rehash or a literal translation of a foreign film.

  31. noel dungca

    Very well defined. Very same reasons why I never go to see for the last 30 years, just a waste of time and money. I cannot patronize and embrace a wrong material developed by wrong leaders and propagated by unreliable artists.

  32. vonbryan_c@yahoo.com

    Thank you for your input. But try indie movies. There are a lot of good movies there.

  33. Fainah

    This is so spot on! And nakakahinayang lang na ang mga pelikulang mga kadalasang ganyan ang may mga malalaking budget kesa sa mga may substance and mas may sense na mga docus, indie films or short films..

  34. PhoenixWild

    “but sometimes foreign productions can be a thousand time worse than PH productions…”

    I don’t agree w/ this statement.

  35. Kuya Medical

    my two cents in additional to yours:

    pure evil antagonists: applicable to seryes and movies, antagonists do not need a reason to be bad. they make protagonists suffer in a whim, with very insufficient reason or probably a lack of backstory. this includes the sipsip na kapatid, madrastang ina, boss ng mga goons at ang assistant nyang sexy.

    love teams. all movies are centered in love teams. be it oldies or new movies, you’d always tell which guy gets which girl.

    actor-centric. in relation to the love-team system, it seems to me that they choose actors first, then write a story fitting the actors. only extras get to audition. if a specific actor gets famous, a movie will be made for him or her. often times you’d hear “ano yung pelikula ni **put ph actor here** ” rather than “sino yung bida sa pelikulang **put hw movie here**”

    overly introduced characters. applicable to seryes, characters get introduced weeks before airing the show. then for whatever introduction is given, it draws an invisible line limiting the character to grow outside the role. then the story gets very predictable.

    in any case, netizens are only a small fraction of their target audience. the larger audience will watch anything with JLC in it. (no offense, JLC is great, but you get the point). thats why its called mainstream.

  36. K

    I couldn’t agree more with this blog but we must admit that ‘some’ of Star Cinema films are improving a lot already. Aside from a good plot of story, one can agree that actors have brilliant acting which really stands out and can make the film great. Although there’s always crappy cliches that was mentioned above that we see on these films, nonetheless it is worth to watch!.

  37. Pingback: A Review of On The Job: Moral Dilemmas and Dual Realities - The Manila Survival Guide

  38. Liz

    This post sure made me laugh specifically reading about Dingdong Dantes and the Saging dialogue of Mark Lapid. But humor aside, it is so true that Filipino directors/scriptwriters/producers nowadays seem to be resting on their laurels – coming up with these unimaginative, overly used plots and calls it a movie. We need more original, creative stories which I’m glad to see in the likes of Cinemalaya films.

Comments are closed.