C1 Originals review: Mock mythology of 'Asuang'

Fred Hawson

Posted at Oct 19 2018 11:23 AM

lwyn Uytingco stars in 'Asuang'

Twenty years ago, Asuang (the mischievous god of sins) was humiliated on television by his elder brother Gugurang (the draconian god of goodness). Since then, Asuang eschewed his godhood and had been concentrating his efforts to trend on social media instead. He even had a film crew led by Direk Aica to document his every move, all with lousy results. When Mayon Volcano was acting up to explode, Asuang saw his chance to be a big hero by stealing the sacred fire, saving the world and be a viral sensation doing it.

Alwyn Uytingco was the pulsating narcissistic center of this absurdist film. He was manic, over-the-top and shameless as Asuang, or his desperately trying-hard social media persona Ash Ang. He was no-holds-barred in doing whatever it took to make his character pop, no matter how crazy, disgusting or cringey the gag. For me, his antics, while delightful, were rather hit and miss, but I think it was more a problem of the script than Alwyn's.

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The rest of the cast had to keep up with Alwyn's energy level, with varying results. Chai Fonacier was the wry, patient and dedicated director Aica. Her crew was composed of soundman Jomar (Brenda Mage), cameraman Bert (Tads Obach) and script girl Chelsea (Toni Almazan). The eerily accurate Karen Davila impersonator Kaladkaren played the ageless hostess Janet of the very long-running TV talk show "Albay."

The rest of the gods of Bikol mythology were played by Paolo O'Hara (the nebulous Gugurang), Earl Figuracion (as the party boy storm god Onos), Jelson Bay (as the "small but terrible" Ekis), Chrome Cosio (as Ekis's action star wannabe brother Ompong), and Jun Sabayton (as the out-of-shape guardian of Mayon, Lord Okot). Nats Sitoy was Asuang's sneaky shape-shifting sidekick KitKat. Lui Manansala played the prophetic babaylan Adelaida. Hashtags member Jon Lucas played the stoic skillful thief of the gods, Miguel.

I was encouraged by positive reviews to go check it out, but came out generally unamused and disappointed. The story concept is fine on paper -- a mock documentary with a message about the nature of reality on social media. The execution by young director Raynier Brizuela aimed to be hip and cool for the millennial target demographic. However, for older viewers like me, the breezy freewheeling style came across as a bit crude and haphazard.

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