STREAMING REVIEWS: Pinoy pride, comedy, and action on Netflix

Published June 11, 2021, 6:16 PM

by Philip Cu Unjieng


It’s finally time to watch Trese on Netflix; and there’s a new, smart comedy special, and a capital A for Action film to stream.

Trese (Netflix Philippines) – Thanks to its cult following here, the Filipino anime series Trese should find a ready audience when it debuts today. A six episode Limited Series, it has the special distinction of being one of the most popular and multi-awarded comic book series to come out of the Philippines. Originally penned in English by Budgette Tan and illustrated by KaJO Baldisimo, it was translated to Filipino by Bob Ong, and now finds its way to the biggest global streaming platform, Netflix, with Filipino-American Jay Olivia as Executive Producer. A horror-mystery that incorporates Filipino folklore, Liza Soberano voices heroine Alexandra Trese in the Tagalog dub, and Shay Mitchell voices Alexandra for the English dub.

Was given the opportunity to preview the series and I loved how they recreated an animated version of Metro Manila, the sense of location beautifully rendered. The narrative chugs along, but I wondered if brisker editing would have helped. And I was looking for shafts of humor as the treatment seemed to take itself too seriously. Being faithful to the source material is fine, but the DC animation style felt too static at times, or looked like a case of ‘been there, done that’, and I was looking for something more dynamic, or even outrageous – just to stamp its own identity as the anime series. But I’m overjoyed to see this come to life, and hope we’ll have more original Filipino content on the streaming service.

Bo Burnham: Inside (Netflix USA) – This is the comedy special that’s earmarked pandemic through and through. What Burnham basically does, is take to his attic, and in a freewheeling, inventive manner, films himself as COVID singer-songwriter, stand up comedian, and social commentator. There are some outright gems in the show, like the hilarious song about White Women’s Instagram, and the ribald one about Sexting. In truth, it’s an idle body and a fertile mind playing with the lockdown he’s having to live through and turning it into a cathartic experience for us, the audience. There are laugh out Ha-Ha moments, others that have us slyly smiling, and to be honest, some that have us rolling our eyes and thinking he’s gone too far.

But what I’ll give kudos to Burnham for, is how he puts it all out there, surprising us with a talent for plaintive electro-pop songs and churning out lyrics that will have us laughing in the aisles. There are some outright misses and it’s a shame that we have to sit through them to reach the bullseye hits. And there are moments that are cloying and feel artificial. So there are patches that had me wondering if I was watching the same show that most critics and reviews were overly enthusiastic about. But if ever there was a comedy show that will be held up as an example of what can be creatively executed during this whole lockdown, quarantine, COVID mess, Inside could well be it.

Xtremo (Netflix Spain) – If ever you were looking for a Spanish version of John Wick, a violent, visceral, all-out action film stamped ‘Made in Spain’, then Xtremo (retitled as Xtreme for the English-speaking audience) would say it’s the made to order film for your consideration. Set in Barcelona, in a world of drugs controlled by the Conclave, the film’s narrative has to do with the son of a drug lord who was sent to Japan and the Yakuza, and comes back more determined to wreak havoc and do things in his own dangerous way. Said villain also holds a grudge against his adopted brother and sister, as it seems they’re the favorites of the father. 

It’s all stereotypical casting, tales of vengeance, hostile takeover plots, and incessant gunfights and hand-to-hand combat. Knowing that the narrative will be either simplistic or not necessarily make a lot of sense, will help you realize that it doesn’t really matter. You’re here for the action, the different ways we can watch people be riddled with bullets and die, and for a villain we can truly boo and hiss at. We definitely get all that, and the Stoic anti-hero who has to be a bad guy with conscience and heart. On all these points, this film does deliver on its promise – so watch this if you’re out for heavy-duty action and violence,