Vhong Navarro: The New X44

TONY FERRER can now rest easy. His crown as Philippine cinema’s premier secret agent has been passed on, and is now in good hands. The heir apparent is comedian Vhong Navarro, whose latest film, Agent X44—

By Aprylle Liabres (Contributor)

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Published: Sat 10 Feb 2007, 10:51 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 11:59 PM

inspired by the character made popular by Ferrer in the 70s—opened in Metro Manila theaters last week. The movie was Star Cinema’s first big offering for 2007, and came on the heels of the romance-comedy Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo which topped the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) box-office race, setting a precedent that Vhong and company felt pressured to live up to.

But despite this, Vhong had a lot of fun making the movie, which was directed by Joyce Bernal, with whom he worked in the horror-comedy D’ Anoders. The only difference between this and the original Tony Ferrer films is that the latter were basically hardcore action flicks that relied a lot on the suave appeal of Ferrer (who was often described as the Filipino equivalent of James Bond), whereas this one is a campy comedy. Direk Joyce and Vhong played around with the script to give it a different flavour.

“It’s so funny, because first of all, the idea of me playing a serious character like Agent X44, of course people will think something’s up. They can’t possibly think I’d be serious in this movie,” laughed Vhong in an interview days before the movie opened.

The movie’s director, Joyce Bernal, says that the atmosphere on the set was very light.

“Vhong and I, whenever we do a movie together, we always make sure that it doesn’t seem like work. While we were making this movie, there were times that we would find ourselves just laughing, and the cinematographer (Charlie Peralta) would just be setting up. Without us knowing, he was already shooting, and those clips would go into the final print.”

And if James Bond had the Bond Girls, naturally, Vhong has his own Agent X44 beauties in this movie: Mariel Rodriguez and Cassandra Ponti. The movie also stars Uma Khouny, John Lapus (who was still with ABS-CBN when the movie was filmed; he is now officially a talent of the rival network), Mura, Epi Quizon, Juliana Palermo and Pokwang. Also appearing in a cameo role is the original Agent X44, Tony Ferrer.

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