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The Philippine Daily Inquirer's Review of 'Codename: Asero' and 'Iisa Pa Lamang'...The duel of two genres
By Jayson B. Brizuela
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:34:00 07/21/2008
MANILA, Philippines - Inside a window-less facility in an undisclosed location, covert operatives frantically pound away at computers to access tactical information and real-time satellite feeds. From her glass-enclosed office, the highest rank character orders an air-strike on foreign soila patch of Arabian desert where their lead secret agent is under heavy enemy fire.
Youre not watching 24, and its not Jack Bauer (Keifer Sutherland) and his team at Los Angeles Counter-Terrorism Unit racing to stop another terrorist attack.
This is the latest GMA 7 prime time offering, the high-tech action series Codename: Asero. Top-billing Richard Gutierrez and Heart Evangelista with a stellar supporting cast, Codename: Asero aims to dazzle and excite local audiences.Fresh take
Its a fresh take on a genre long considered dead by many, at least on film. But while action has enjoyed prime time exposure via recent series like GMA 7s Lupin and ABS-CBNs Palos, this is by far the most ambitious and appealing, even for viewers who are Hollywood-oriented and more demanding.
A large part of it is due to the shows very contemporary feel, thanks to the use of believable high-tech gadgetry and weapons. It seems the show has spared no expense (by local standards), giving it an authentic feel and almost eliminating a look of fake-ness that weve come to expect from local productions.Its great to see a local production move with the times. Campy, convoluted, and contrived action-slash-fantaseryes (and plain fantaseryes) have certainly had their 15 minutes of fame.Still campy
Which is not to say Asero is not without a certain degree of campy-ness. What recent local network offering has been spared from this? For Asero, at least, the camp factor is balanced with believable material.
We feel that this one could capture a bigger audience, maybe school boys fascinated with cars, gadgets, and the like, and older male audiences across a broad demographic who hanker for the good old days when action meant big guns, gizmos, and girls in trouble.
Still, Asero tries to have the best of both worlds, by way of maintaining its appeal for traditional prime time audiences. This is where Pinoy-ization comes in.
Scripting is still decidedly old school. Even when characters such as Michael Vs resident computer whiz spews out tech-speak in fluent English (a laudable effort) its still far from realistic. Janno Gibbs cardboard sidekick to Gutierrezs titular Grecko tries to inject humor, but the jokes often feel dated.The digital effects are not flawless, but theyre a marked improvement from just a few years ago. However, theres still a lot to be desired when it comes to set pieces, i.e., the control center. While painstakingly designed, it still looks like an elaborate play-set.Requisite romance
Pinoy-ization is also illustrated in the requisite love angle. Thankfully, it doesnt slide back to familiar, syrupy, sappy territory. At least not yet.
[highlight]As Gutierrezs love interest, Evangelista should be credited for giving the show the heart it needs to balance all the action, espionage, and machismo. She displays impressive (though understated) acting, and affects viewers when shes shown in a predicament.
Also praiseworthy is the evident chemistry in spite of their love-hate relationship. We hope the team-up is sustained; it is more fun to watch than lovers merely going gooey at every turn.[/highlight]
As for Gutierrez himself, the role does not seem to require serious acting. It only demands that he be convincing in his dual role of agent and cyborg. And he is.