'Mang Kepweng Returns' review: Clumsy comeback
GB Sampedro's Mang Kepweng Returns is another case of creatively bankrupt capitalism resurrecting decades-old pop culture icons, only to suck them of their identity in exchange for boorish amusement.
Precursor to a franchise
Think of the movie as a precursor to another Enteng Kabisote-like franchise – loud and empty movies that pander to juvenilia by repurposing the goodwill of its source material to make up for its gross lack of ambition.
It has all the signs.
It is spearheaded by a big television star of ample following, riddled with uncouth and oftentimes insensitive jokes, sprinkled with substandard special effects, and carried over by a paltry storyline with no innovation. It wants to be a mixed bag, clumsily patching together comedy, horror, drama, and romance in a package that looks, feels, and tastes like regurgitated junk food.
Good versus evil, again
Mang Kepweng Returns, like all movies of the same ilk, is about the forces of good versus evil. It is blisteringly broad in its definition of what good and evil are, shying away from middle grounds, even if its characters are quick to commit to insults and insensitivities for the sake of easy laughs.
Goodness here is represented by Kepweng (Vhong Navarro), the son of the original Mang Kepweng and heir to his magical bandana, which gives whoever wears it unlimited healing powers.
The young Kepweng has a lazily constructed character. He is more an adjunct of the persona that Navarro has built throughout his career of playing weaklings who trump adversaries and charm women. It's more of the same here, with Navarro basically on autopilot in his attempt to give new life to a comedic icon.
In between lousy jokes and shoddy spectacle, the movie squeezes scenes to forward its meager plot. It is obvious that story is secondary here. The movie is more interested in flaunting Navarro's tricks and stunts, his rude rapport with his 3 best friends, his uncharismatic affair with his leading lady, and his unnecessary dance moves.
Mang Kepweng Returns is essentially a movie whose pleasures are dependent on its star. In this case, Navarro's a redundant act, and as a result, the movie is a downright bore. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' 'Tirad Pass.' Since then, he's been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.