In Focus: Jack Em Popoy: The Puliscredibles

There’s a tradition of rival MMFF stars joining forces to appear in one film. We have Enteng Ng Ina Mo (2011) and Si Agimat, Si Enteng Kabisote At Si Ako (2012) to name a few. Vic Sotto is at it again and topbills with ABS CBN’s Coco Martin in Jack Em Popoy: The Puliscredibles.

Popoy (Vic Sotto) is a veteran policeman who’s dead-set on tracking down a drug syndicate. He’s assigned a new partner, Jack (Coco Martin). Younger, impulsive, and hotheaded, Jack inevitably clashes with Popoy. Tension further heightens when the two discover that there is more to their relationship than it appears and Popoy’s adopted daughter Emily (Maine Mendoza) begins to fall for Jack.

First things first: I appreciate that Puliscredibles tries to actually build a standalone story and create characters that are quite distinct from roles its stars have previously played – more so for Sotto, who gets to exercise his acting chops here. Humor largely stems from Sotto and Martin being asked to do skits that are very far from their real-life persona, which isn’t a bad thing and highlights how game and dedicated this cast is.

The fight scenes themselves could use a bit more polish, but their grand scope is nothing short of laudable. That whole bit on the pier where the leads split up and face the villains has them skipping across boats, fighting sky-high on a crane, and ziplining through the battlefield. You get the gist. It feels like a tribute to action movies of the past and thus their FPJ Memorial Award is much deserved.

But regrettably, its loose and convoluted plot doesn’t do it any favors. Our leads shift their focus at least three times in the whole runtime to take part in off-tangent, irrelevant happenings. The Eat Bulaga Poging Pulis contest? Long drawn out and can be cut. The whole house-shooting scene? Largely forgotten right after. The saga on Jack’s parentage? The syndicate’s hand in destroying their family? Feels like an afterthought and made so complicated. Hey, if the characters can take a time out, why should the audience then care? The overall threat thus appears much less menacing. It could have been much tighter, much slicker, without losing its core.

Of the current reviews I’ve posted for MMFF so far, I’ve overused should’ve, would’ve, and could’ve. It’s discouraging to find a film with much potential but doesn’t quite take off. All the more for Puliscredibles because all the elements are there: a great cast with charismatic leads, good action scenes and well-timed punchlines, and a solid story. If only effort were enough to make a great film…

Directed by: Mike Tuviera
Starring: Vic Sotto, Coco Martin, Maine Mendoza

Random notes (SPOILERS BELOW)

  • It’s bad to compare, but please indulge me. If you were held at gunpoint and had to choose which comedy film to watch in MMFF 2018, pick Puliscredibles. It’s way, way better, hands down.
  • For a second, I thought in the climax that Popoy will be placed in a similar dilemma – does he kill Antonio (Ronaldo Valdez) and carry the guilt of Valerie (Cherry Pie Picache) losing her husband and more importantly Angelo (Baeby Baste) growing up without a father? Oh well…
  • I admire the film’s restraint from being too meta. Only ones I remember were Sotto saying “Hi fans!” and him smirking and teasing Martin when the latter mentions watching Eat Bulaga. They even controlled themselves from referencing Ryza Cenon’s Georgia from Ika-6 Na Utos despite so many opportunities.
  • Maine Mendoza continues to prove that she’s a movie star. Chai Fonacier is really funny too.

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