Quick Take: 3Pol Trobol: Huli Ka Balbon

Coco Martin has become an MMFF staple in the league of Vice Ganda and Vic Sotto as the go-to action guy, even collaborating at least once with both stars. We see him back solo this year in 3Pol Trobol, where he plays Apollo Balbon (Pol), a personal guard framed for the death of a high-profile politician. To prove his innocence, he searches for a ledger containing the names of those ultimately responsible.

3Pol casts out all doubts on Coco being FPJ’s successor, as if having a long-running teleserye under the latter’s moniker isn’t enough! The action set pieces and fight choreography are the same (including the signature FPJ punches). The plot points are almost exactly the same. The tropes used are the same: the morally upright hero, the virgin leading lady, the devoted mother, the irredeemable villains, and the choir of friends and ka-barangays. Coco even emulates FPJ’s tendency to cast the same actors in his films – the same hundreds of actors!

It makes 3Pol feel like an outdated movie that could have been popular two decades ago. I’m not sure how marketable it would be if it weren’t Coco in the starring role or if they didn’t heavily promote the re-appearance of his cross-dressing alter ego, Paloma. Everything about it is just too black and white in an age where we favor gray. It’s no longer interesting to see a squeaky clean hero with no faults or weaknesses – in fact, we crucify them and brand them as Mary Sues. Pol falls dangerously close to this territory.

It’s not just Coco but also the rest of the cast that has this same issue. Case in point is Sam Milby’s Andrew, who at the onset seemed like a conflicted character forced to follow the bidding of his parents, only to end up as a full-on villain.

3Pol Trobol is not a bad film – it’s shot well, the fight scenes are inventive if not great, and the cast’s camaraderie is palpable onscreen. Hats off to Coco for devoting so much energy into the action genre. Then again, it wouldn’t hurt to give it a fresh coat of paint.