KTX review: Fil-Am family foibles in 'The Fabulous Filipino Brothers'

Fred Hawson

Posted at Oct 19 2021 09:42 AM

A scene from 'The Fabulous Filipino Brothers' 
A scene from 'The Fabulous Filipino Brothers' 

The Bascos were a Filipino-American family who lived in Pittsburg, California. The eldest brother was Darius, nicknamed Dayo (Derek Basco), the reliable one. The second brother was Dante, nicknamed Danny Boy (Darion Basco), the dark one. The third brother was Douglas, nicknamed Duke (Dante Basco), the lucky one. The youngest brother was David (Dionysio Basco), simply David, the funny one. 

The Dayo episode was a comic romp with a hint of underworld danger. To earn extra cash to fulfill a bold expensive promise he made to the family, Dayo went to find a job from his friend Berto (Joey Guila), who sent him to bring a fighting cock to a foul-mouthed gangster Nicky Chang (Joseph Jitsukawa) and his goons. It was the presence of their Lola (Iluminada Monroy) and her trusty bottle of Vicks Vaporub that steal the scene. 

The Duke episode was like a fantasy romance drama. Duke had an unexpected reunion with his gorgeous ex-girlfriend Anna (Solenn Heusaff) in Manila. The two bonded as if the 15 years that had passed was just yesterday. They even met Tirso Cruz III in a funeral they crashed in an Intramuros church they visited. Since they were both married now, whether they fall into the temptation of going all the way or not was the big question.

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The David episode was a brief comic interlude, as he was the weird and uninhibited one after all. While hanging around the food before a family party began, David saw a mysterious woman (Crystal Kwon) at the other end of the table. The two began a bizarre courtship ritual of sorts, as they use various items of food on the buffet to make one naughty sexual innuendos to the other, ranging from mild suggestive to outright blatant. 

The Danny episode was the most serious one of the four. After a bad breakup, Danny mostly kept himself locked in his room, wallowing in misery while immersed in strange dissonant electronic music that he would compose on his computer. One night, he became text mates with a woman on the new dating app and they agree to meet up. Despite a literal load she was carrying at present, Danny found Teresa (Liza Lapira) a kindred spirit and soul mate. 

The stories were narrated by a female voice, whose identity would be revealed only at the very end as a surprise. She was introducing to the American audience the idiosyncrasies of Filipino-Americans as a people, how their family dynamics were, and how they loved karaoke, cha-cha and gambling. We local Filipinos will also learn about the lives of Fil-Ams who speak with an American twang and are fully integrated into American way of life. 

When you look at the end credits, this film was really a family affair. Aside from the four Basco brothers, you will see more Bascos among the cast and crew. That the four were brothers in real life can be felt in their scenes together. Those meal time scenes that the brothers were together with their parents Aida and Darius were the best ones for me. The "fabulous" in the title refers more to the real Basco brothers, not really their film versions.

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."