TEMPTATION ISLAND (Joey Gosiengfiao)

Arguably the mother of all Filipino camp films, Joey Gosiengfiao's TEMPTATION ISLAND is scatter shot, over the top, and also relentlessly funny. Maybe it is created that way because of the campy nature of the film.

If you can get past the non sequitur (the models get whisked in a deserted island after a shipwreck, yet Anita Linda who plays the mom of one of the models gets safely home in Manila?), the cheesy effects (of course it was a different time so a little understanding is extended), and Dina Bonnevie's bad acting, then there's plenty of good stuff in TEMPTATION ISLAND.

First of all, the lines are outrageous. And here's my favorite:

Suzanne: You have no right to touch anything that doesn't belong to you.

Azenith: Kesehoda ka.   Ke mayaman, ke mahirap, ke malinis, ke marumi, pantay-pantay tayo rito. 

Suzanne: Aba, aba sumusobra ka na! Minsan ka lang naging survivor eh komunista ka na. And besides wala kang makikitang pagkain dyan because I'm on a very strict diet.

Azenith: Leche! Magdadala-dala ka ng kung anu-anong kargamento eh puros kaputahan lang pala, eh di bwisit ka!

There's more where that came from. Point is, I truly miss the days when our scribes are capable of writing with wit, and our actors and actresses can manage to deliver them in style. Of all the characters in TEMPTATION ISLAND, Azenith (Azenith Briones) truly shines. She is this person with such strong character whose mouth oozes with sarcasm everytime she opens it.

Suzanne (Jennifer Cortez) also dishes out equal moments of wackiness, especially during that morning scene where she seduces Alfredo (Alfie Anido) by the shore by slowly taking off her leggings, and then Alfredo suddenly turns back in disgust and walks away.

Whether a direct intention or as a by-product of formula, TEMPTATION ISLAND mirrors, if not shamelessly glorifies the "bomba" or the bold films period that immediately preceded it. The quartet (Dina, Azenith, Jennifer, and Bambi) serves as eye candy for the male crowd, what with all the dream sequences and  the wet looks a la Elizabeth Oropesa. Of course, we now regard TEMPTATION ISLAND as a lot more than a glorification of the bold era, which solidifies the film into a cult status.

The concept of survival abounds the film, from the beauty pageant early on, up until the characters' travails in the island. TEMPTATION ISLAND gets to translate some visual Darwinian images onscreen, but the story does not offer enough scenarios for a morality dilemma usually associated with the principle of the survival of the fittest.  Philosophy is lost on horsing around. A person can only roll so much on the sand that's not even dramatically downhill.

What happens with Joshua (Jonas Sebastian), the gay co-director of the pageant in the end is the ultimate application of Darwinian principle. This is an achievement for the film, and then these coppers in khaki turn up like mushrooms, ruining the moment.

I don't know about you, but I prefer logic (no, I demand logic!) when watching films. And that is the most boring pageant I have ever witnessed, featuring two lifeless hosts. Nevertheless, TEMPTATION ISLAND is still a fun movie to watch for what it's worth. Like what the contestants did, yes that's right blame it all on the damn pageant!



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