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MOVIEGOER: Mining more Korean dramas

JUST A THOUGHT: “The time to relax is when you don’t have the time for it.” - Sydney J. Harris

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GOING KOREAN NEXT: Adaptations of popular Korean drama fare may soon alter the face of the Metro Manila Film Festival.

To begin with, their stories are already known to Filipinos, who don’t seem to mind, and who actually like watching movies whose stories they have already memorized or are familiar with. Remember how local audiences made big box-office hits out of movies based on popular radio drama serials before? That was a trend that dates back to the 1950s.

Or how about those movies based on komiks serialized novellas? A succeeding popular trend in the 1960s, then revived by Viva Films in the ‘80s.

“Miracle in Cell No. 7’s” surprise performance—top grosser in the recently held 14-day filmfest— is sure to inspire other producers to rethink their priorities as they plan their next moves for the 2020 edition of the 45-year old festival.

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AGA IS CO-PRODUCER: As of this writing, the Aga Muhlach-starrer has breached the 300 million peso mark, clearly upsetting Vice Ganda’s “The Mall, The Merrier” which clocked in at over 200 million.

Aga, who has been inactive for several years, remains unbelieving of the sudden twist of fate. He is billed as co-producer of “Miracle,” described as a low budget (10 million pesos) Viva film.

For the past five years or so, Vice has been lording over the MMFF as traditional top grosser with his easy-to-like, laff-a-minute comedies. Vice must be asking now, what happened to our market?

Well, they probably grew up a bit as they turned to drama instead.

(From left): Dingdong Dantes, Jasmin Curtis-Smith and Rocco Nacino. The three star in the Philippine adaptation of 'Descendants Of The Sun'

(From left): Dingdong Dantes, Jasmin Curtis-Smith and Rocco Nacino. The three star in the Philippine adaptation of ‘Descendants Of The Sun’

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ADVICE TO VICE: The sawa factor might be there as Vice has been serving almost the same comedy fare year after year. Vic Sotto faced the same predicament in his prime until he, too, took a back seat to Vice.

Maybe it’s time for Vice to do a film with a solid story where comedy is a natural ingredient, not as an offshoot of jokes. Something like a family drama with lots of comic situations and laughter thrown in.

On second thought, finishing at No. 2 isn’t so bad, Vice. You just slipped a little.

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HUNTING FOR MORE KOREAN DRAMAS: As I was saying, the phenomenal success of “Miracle in Cell No. 7” must be sending producers on a mad scramble to dig up recent Korean drama hits.

Not being a big follower of Korean dramas, I can’t be of much help, but they can ask my wife, Cecile, who follows quite a number of them. She talks about “That Winter, The Wind Blows,” for one.

She says Korean dramas have cornered a big chunk of the Filipino market, thanks to their easy availability on the internet.

“Miracle” was a big hit as it connected very well with local audiences, who are prone to tearjerkers and similar sentimental outpourings. What’s good about it is the equal mix between heavy drama and comic touches here and there, a standard in Korean films and TV serials.

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DESCENDANTS OF THE SUN: The sudden popularity of “Miracle in Cell No. 7” has sent the curious to search and watch all over again the original Korean series. The current wave has also led to a rediscovery of other Korean dramas as “Descendants of the Sun.”

I now hear people say they’ll set out to watch “Descendants” as well. They need not wait long and hard.

On GMA this January, another localized Korean drama opens with a star-studded cast led by Dingdong Dantes, Jennylyn Mercado, Jasmine Curtis-Smith and Rocco Nacino.

“Descendants of the Sun,” an epic wartime drama, is a big hit worldwide.

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