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REEL TIME

Cristine packs a mighty punch

By: - Entertainment Editor
/ 12:11 AM April 03, 2019
Cristine Reyes in “Maria”

Cristine Reyes in “Maria”

There’s a new action star in Tinseltown—and she’s female. We don’t mind not seeing as many local action flicks in our cineplexes if movie production companies will just churn out formulaic actioners of the ’80s variety.

But Cristine Reyes, as the titular heroine in Pedring A. Lopez’s “Maria,” makes her white-knuckle punches connect with as much gusto as bone-cracking believability. It’s a lot of fun just seeing the actress giving as good as she gets without embarrassing herself.

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Moreover, while character development isn’t one of the movie’s strongest traits, we like the fact that the women in this production aren’t depicted as whiny damsels in distress.

Cristine, along with Cindy Miranda and Jennifer Lee (cast as members of the syndicate), doesn’t need men to save her from imminent harm. How “empowering” and “progressive” can you get? So, we wouldn’t mind watching a sequel of the film, as suggested by its cliff-hanging finale.

Maria (Cristine), a former assassin known as Lily, is a woman after Evelyn Salt’s heart. And the fact that the spunky actress who plays her is no slouch at acting makes her all the more appealing.

Lopez keeps his cautionary tale consistently viewable by showing proficiently paced and choreographed fight scenes when his film isn’t stubbornly plugging into the country’s sociopolitical zeitgeist.

While this makes the movie’s narrative development quite predictable, it also lets its protagonist, contented housewife Maria, maneuver her way out of a messy maze manipulated by avaricious drug lords (Freddie Webb), warring siblings (Ivan Padilla, KC Montero), and charismatic but corrupt politicians.

But Maria isn’t just another bystander caught in the crossfire of drug syndicate Black Rose’s killing spree. Seven years ago, she was a crucial part of its criminal activities before her conscience got the better of her.

Just as she was about to kill an innocent mother and her terrified child, Maria suddenly decided to turn her back on a life of crime and leave Kaleb (Ivan), her bratty boyfriend and “partner in crime,” behind.

When her violent past eventually catches up with her, Maria can’t even protect her husband Bert (Guji Lorenzana) and daughter Minmin (Johannah Tongcua) from Kaleb’s murderous rampage.

But wreaking vengeful havoc on Kaleb and the drug-peddling syndicate backing him up is easier said than done. So, she asks her “retired” mentor, Greg (Ronnie Lazaro), to help her pull off one last mission.

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Convoluted rom-com

Frankie Chen’s “It Started with a Kiss Movie” had a different title when we caught a screening of it in London last February: “Fall in Love at First Kiss.” It begins its theatrical run in the Philippines today.

Darren Wang (left) and Jelly Lin in “It Started with a Kiss Movie”

Darren Wang (left) and Jelly Lin in “It Started with a Kiss Movie”

Rom-com aficionados will find its breezy yarn-spinning quirks familiar, so we wouldn’t be surprised if the film finds an enthusiastic audience here.

It can get too kooky and convoluted at times, but that’s par for the course in many romantic comedies in Asia these days.

The teen flick follows the budding romance that develops between brilliant high school student Jiang Zhishu (Taiwanese heartthrob Darren Wang) and underachieving transfer student Yuan Xiangqin (Jelly Lin), which plays out like a “kwela” Star Cinema production. It doesn’t hurt that Darren and Jenny are as charismatic as they are easy on the eyes.

Wang (left) and Lin

Wang (left) and Lin

Xiangqin ends up locking lips with Zhishu by accident when the former trips on the stairs as she rushes to her first class. But while it is “love at first kiss” for Xiangqin, Zhishu, who has an IQ of 200, has something more important in mind. He’d rather focus on a high-tech project than pay attention to the long queue of salivating and swooning girls fighting over him.

But Xiangqin’s romantic situation takes an unexpected turn when her house collapses. Thereafter, she’s forced to live with the family of her father’s close friend—who just happens to be Zhishu’s dad! How can Xiangqin mend her broken heart if the guy she’s in love with is just one room away?

Will Xiangqin end up in Zhishu’s arms, as she has always fantasized? Take a guess.

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TAGS: Cristine Reyes, Maria movie
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