Six classic, crazy, and campy Pinoy basketball movies you should totally revisit
Alvin Laqui on Dec 24, 2017 10:38 AM
A whole subgenre of Filipino cinema is dedicated to our most beloved sport. (Posters taken from IMDb.com, video48.blogspot.com, and via screenshots on YouTube)
During the boom of the PBA and basketball's popularity in the Philippines in the late 1970's, up to the 1990's, the Filipino filmmaking industry was also experiencing a rebirth of its own.
What's the connection, you may ask?
Well, it turns out, there's a whole subgenre of Pinoy cinema dedicated to basketball.
Aside from local high-art classics that tackled questioned our very identity as Filipinos, like Ishmael Bernal's 'Manila By Night', Lino Brocka's 'Orapronobis', and Mike De Leon's 'Kisapmata', the filmgoing public was, during this era, also treated to more free-spirited, basketball-centric creations like 'Dunkin Donato', 'Go Johnny Go', and 'Dobol Dribol', well, actually, two Dobol Dribol movies, (we'll get to that later), and a whole lot more.
In that span, film companies started playing with the idea of translating basketball into movies, to mixed critical acclaim, but to emphatic public applause.
Ishmael Bernals these films were not, but they still treated viewers to slices of heightened hoop dreams and imagined life on celluloid, and for basketball-crazed Pinoys, they were more than enough.
These films were usually screened for a couple of weeks in the bevy of local movie houses all around the country, then died a slow death until they were rediscovered, and fed for wide TV syndication a few years down the road.
But let's go back to basketball, more specifically, its players.
Tall, with distinct features seemingly made not just for the court, but also for the silver screen, Pinoy cagers were always destined to cross the boundary.
Ballers-turned-movie stars like Robert Jaworski, Jimmy Santos, Atoy Co, Freddie Webb, are just part of a large group of athletes who dabbled in showbiz.
Not only did they make sports movies, however, but they also starred in several other genres, which helped legitimate celebrities return the favor by starring in basketball films, making the subject basically a free-for-all and an easy, money-making ordeal.
Below, we list down six of the craziest, campiest, classic Filipino comdies that tried translating basketball into the silver screen. Though most, if not all of them are pretty bad from a critical standpoint, these lighthearted affairs were perfect for any basketball fan, and are definitely worth revisiting.
(Camp, in film, as defined by Wikipedia, "is an aesthetic style and sensibility that regards something as appealing because of its bad taste and ironic value." So yes, these get hilariously bad, yet enjoyable nonetheless.)
Dobol Dribol (1979)
Directed by Jose Dagumboy, starring Robert Jaworski and Nora Aunor
The Recap: The Living Legend dabbled in sitcoms and crime films before he eventually went back to roots to film the seminal 'Dobol Dribol' alongside another royalty in Nora Aunor.
Jawo plays a businessman-turned inter-barangay league coach of probably the best inter-barangay team name of all time, the Kamatsili Dribblers. Yup.
Though deflated at first, the Kamatsili Dribblers, led by Jawo, overcame adversity to claim the title, dousing piping hot justice to the villains who want to fix the game.
Also, in the movie, he was a former player who retired because of injury, but in true 'Never Say Die' fashion, Jaworski dusted off his jersey and his sneakers after their inspiring run in the barangay league. Good stuff.
Dobol Dribol (1992)
Directed by Tony Cruz, starring Alvin Patrimonio, Maricel Soriano, Anjoy Yllana, and a very young Aiza Seguerra
The Recap: Basically a very loose remake of the 1979 film above, only this time, with Alvin Patrimonio, in full bloom, with his matinee idol looks and charm, playing twins Alfredo and Binoy. Alfredo is the basketball star from Manila, while Binoy knows nothing about hoops because he grew up in the province. There's also some scenes where God himself speaks, and a chunk of the movie is all about body-swapping, ala Freaky Friday, so yes, it gets pretty weird.
There's also scene where Alvin, playing Binoy, tries to learn the basics of basketball, which is always a treat since he's one of the most decorated pro ballers around.
Patrimonio flexes his acting, singing, and dancing chops alongside established stars like comedienne Maricel Soriano as a loud-mouth coach, a young Aiza Seguerra, and Anjo Yllana as the corrupt manager archetype.
Go Johnny Go (1997)
Directed by Ipe Pelino, starring Johnny Abarrientos, an up-and-coming Willie Revillame, and Rochelle Barrameda
The Recap: 'Go Johnny Go' is The Flying A's film debut, which he stars alongside then-sidekick Willie Revillame before he hit the bigtime. The movie is basically Johnny and Willie getting in different odd jobs, and failing at most of them. It's a prime example of a 'pito-pito' film, a style of filmmaking rampant during the era that needed movies to get made in seven days (or less).
A reasonable amount of the plot goes into basketball, particularly streetball, where Johnny reigns supreme, and we get to see his handles and his hops in a different way.
While there's not a lot of information about this film online, you can catch it regularly as it makes its rounds on your local Pinoy movie channel. All we have for now is this extremely blurry trailer.
Last Two Minutes (1989)
Directed by Mike Relon Makiling, starring Alvin Patrimonio, Jerry Codinera, Bong Alvarez and Benjie Paras
The Recap: Matinee idols Zoren Legaspi, Jeffrey Santos (Yes, Juday's younger bro) and Aljon Jimenez make up the lowly St. John University basketball team who wants to end its cellar-dwelling past perpetuated by their inept coach played by Roderick Paulate.
The film stars Alvin Patrimonio, Paul "Bong" Alvarez and Jerry Codinera, boys from the province who know next to nothing about basketball but went to Manila to seek a better life.
Patrimonio worked as a janitor for the school, while Codinera coincidentally worked as a bus driver (Jio Jalalon, Codinera's former player for Arellano, was nicknamed The Bus Driver during his college days).
After having his team defeated by their women's squad, coach was forced to recruit the lowly workers. Of course, it worked wonders for the school.
A young Benjie Paras with hair makes a cameo appearance near the end as a....priest!
Dunkin Donato (1993)
Directed by Felix E. Dalay, starring Benjie Paras, Herbert Bautista, and Ruffa Gutierrez
The Recap: Here's another Benjie Paras flick. The Tower of Power topbills and teams up with funnyman Herbert Bautista as they play cousins Donato and Buknoy respectively in a laugh-out-loud comedy that combines Filipino mysticism, an inspiring story, and of course, basketball.
While the plot, which includes another inter-barangay league, and similar game-fixing issues as 1979's Dobol Dribol, is pretty pedestrian affair, its shades of supernatural elements (Donato and Buknoy were given magical basketball powers by elves. Yup.), general ridiculousness, genuine on-screen chemistry and hilarity between Papa Bear and Bistek definitely make this film stand out as actually funny.
Bonus: Information about this film online is pretty sparse, but be treated to this old commercial starring Benjie Paras himself, endorsing the donut chain that inspired his name in the movie.
Shoot That Ball (1987)
Directed by J. Erastheo Navoa, starring Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto, Joey de Leon, and Pops Fernandez with Michael Hackett.
The Recap: Shoot that Ball is a classic Tito, Vic, and Joey flick, the only difference is, that the trio wreaks all kinds of havoc on the court as college basketball varsity players. Former Ginebra import Michael Hackett, who once held the record for most points in a PBA game with 103, also had a cameo appearance.
Fun fact: Bossing 'reprised' his role in this film with San Miguel players June Mar Fajardo, Arwind Santos, and Marcio Lassiter, as well as Marc Pingris in a TV advertisment. He even hits the game-winning shot, just like in the movie.