MANILA, Philippines – It takes 3 films to destroy a franchise: the first to make it, the second to break it, and, in the case of Kimmy Dora (Ang Kiyemeng Prequel), a third to milk it.
Written and directed by Chris Martinez, Ang Kiyemeng Prequel is a chance to right many of the wrongs of the previous films. Unfortunately, the opportunity is squandered in what can only be described as more predictable than thoughtful.
Ang Kiyemeng Prequel is the third and supposedly final installment to the Kimmy Dora franchise, with comedienne Eugene Domingo reprising her role as twins Kimmy and Dora Go Dong Hae.
Set before the original Kimmy Dora, Ang Kiyemeng Prequel follows the sisters as they work their way up the Go Dong Hae empire to prove themselves worthy of the family business. They are aided by the dashing Rodin Bartoletti (Sam Milby) who is tasked to make sure that the sisters do their job. But when a mysterious menace threatens to ruin the Go Dong Hae name, the sisters must unite in order to save the family and their business.
Like any tired franchise, Ang Kiyemeng Prequel is content with going backward instead of forward. With the novelty of the twins already worn out, many of their antics feel too familiar to be funny.
Even with screenwriter Chris Martinez finally moving on to the director’s chair, Ang Kiyemeng Prequel feels more like an obligation than a passion. Jokes are drawn out, and often feel forced and painfully tedious. The story itself is one sketch after the next with no real momentum. After penning the two films before it, Martinez may have simply run out of his own bag of tricks despite the occasional flash of cleverness.
Eugene Domingo does her best to save the film from tedium, but an actor is often only as good as the material they are given. In this case, Domingo isn’t given very much. Even with veteran actors Ariel Ureta, Joel Torre, Angel Aquino, and an army of celebrity cameos by her side, they just aren’t enough to save the franchise that catapulted Domingo from sidekick to stardom.
While an odd punchline or two will eventually meet its mark, it’s hardly enough to warrant the price of admission. The real shock here is how such a rich roster of talent could’ve produced such a lackluster film. While it’s difficult to pinpoint what exactly went wrong, it’s much simpler to surmise that the franchise may have finally run its course.
An exhausting end
By Filipino franchise standards, Kimmy Dora could’ve been much worse. But what makes Kimmy Dora such an exemplary exception is that the original film was an obvious cut above the usual mainstream comedy. It was an odd mix of clever and crass, and gambled its money on an actress who was willing to prove herself as a bonafide star. Unfortunately, Ang Kiyemeng Prequel is no longer that film.
Ang Kiyemeng Prequel is safe, familiar and disappointingly exhausted. It is born out of an idea nearly half-a-decade old, and hopes to ride on the coattails of the first film’s success. It is everything the first film rallied against, and it’s ironic to see how the tables have turned.
The Kimmy Dora series isn’t the first franchise to wear out its welcome, and it won’t certainly be the last. But maybe that’s the just the curse of any successful franchise, when even the sharpest of talents are dulled by routine. Domingo and Martinez are still one of the most exciting comedic talents in front of and behind the camera, and the film does manage to provide the occasional spark of charm; but everything is muddled by an overwhelming sense of exasperation.
Kimmy Dora has undoubtedly run its course. Despite an invigorating first film, the franchise is left with a curtain call that should be best avoided than applauded. Ang Kiyemeng Prequel is supposedly the final chapter to the Kimmy Dora franchise. If this last film is any indication of things to come; it might very well should be. – Rappler.com
Zig Marasigan is a freelance screenwriter and director who believes that cinema is the cure for cancer. Follow him on Twitter at @zigmarasigan.
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