MOVIE REVIEW: Deadma Walking (2017)

Led by the powerhouse performances of Joross Gamboa and Edgar Allan Guzman, Deadma Walking (Julius Alfonso, 2017) is a campy feast of a well-arched gag-laughter/tear-jerker that embraces its B-movie elements, producing a very original comedy classic.

Based on the 2016 Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature winning screenplay, and hemmed by the directorial debut of Julius Alfonso, Deadma Walking follows the story of John (Joross Gamboa) who, upon learning his stage 4 diagnosis of cancer and with only 1-2 years to live, decides to fake his own death to bear witness to what his friends and family have to say about and give to him, leading to an overwhelming journey of love, appreciation and acceptance. With the help of his BFF for life, Mark (EA Guzman), the film follows the meticulously planned staging of John’s death, wake and funeral — all the drama, mischief, laughter and unexpected twists in between.

When a film is a witty reminder of Tim Robbins’ Dead Man Walking (1995) starring Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon, you know you’re in for a cognizant laughing stock that would never feel cheap. And it didn’t. The greatest thing about Julius Alfonso’s Deadma Walking is, despite its spoof-elated, paradoxical impression, it never felt cheap. The depth of the film, down to its last, tiniest detail is so well thought out, that there wasn’t a missed opportunity for the film to deliver its intentions of an imitation-of-life approach. The film embraces its exaggerations and over-the-top antics led by its two protagonists who are as colorful as the rainbow amidst a grief-centric premise as heavy as the rain.

Deadma Walking is a gay film that didn’t use the “gay” element as a mere accessory; rather, it used it as its vehicle for the film to propel its narrative. Unlike other LGBT films whose queer element only reflects on its aesthetics (as if changing the sexuality of the movie’s characters would not make a single difference to the story), Deadma Walking embraces its queerness as it utilizes its gay elements to a more effective, sparkling story. It’s funny but never laughable; it’s touching but never cheesy. It’s a social commentary on how a friendship between two queer (and good-looking) men can blossom as a life-long, romance-free partnership without the malice of societal standardization, while tackling the human flaws it entails, including the hues of platonic love, trust and betrayal.

One of the highlights of the film is its visceral direction by Julius Alfonso. Every scene is a reflection of the director’s assertion and the screenplay’s intellect. The sharp wits and unabashed campiness of Cabahug’s script was delivered intellectually by Alfonso on screen. Let’s face it: this type of film could easily go trashy, but the production of gag laughs and heavy drama that the movie juggles is very much well-studied, and eventually well-delivered — thanks, in huge part, to the cinematic cleverness of its director.

EA Guzman is a firecracker. He is a complete breakthrough, almost as if the film was intentionally made to show off his brilliant comedic versatility and dramatic chops. A scene stealer, he manages to give a luminous performance in a film about death and grief, and it never felt condescending or strange to the theme. Joross Gamboa gave a generous performance of a meek, quieter role opposite to Guzman’s loudness, creating a very well-balanced dynamic between the two. Playing a subtler, more laid-back role without being underwhelming is a difficult one to do, and Gamboa nailed it to the tee. Their characters are distinguishable, layered, human and real, despite the material’s theatrical, over-the-top shebang. Dimples Romana’s gift for drama was smartly utilized for the film’s beautiful arch on its more serious, more somber undertone. Her character created a perfect foil to the film’s dual tone of comedy and drama, and she single-handedly created that shift that never felt awkward or forced.

As one of the only two MMFF 2017 entries to be Graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board, Deadma Walking is indeed a pleasant surprise, and it goes way deeper than the impression it makes at the onset. A powerhouse combination of talented actors, sharp screenplay and intelligent direction, the film is everything you could ask for: a good entertainment, and an even better filmmaking.


4.75 out of 5 stars


MMFF entry ‘Deadma Walking,’ Graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board

The 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) entry ‘Deadma Walking’ is graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB), the highest merit given to a film submitted for evaluation.

Starring reliable actors Joross Gamboa and Edgar Allan Guzman, the film is based on the screenplay of the same name which won the 2nd Prize in the Screenplay division of the 2016 Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, the most prestigious literary prize in the Philippines. Past winners in the same category include the blockbuster romance-comedy ‘That Thing Called Tadhana.’

The story revolves around gay BFFs (best friends for life) John and Mark whose friendship is put to the test when one of them has a terminal illness and asks the other to help him stage his fake death, wake, and funeral as his dying wish. The result is a comedy of “deadly” proportions.

‘Deadma Walking’ also features the special participation of Gerald Anderson, Vin Abrenica, and Ms. Eugene Domingo. They are joined by Candy Pangilinan, Dimples Romana, Ricci Chan, Jojit Lorenzo, Nicco Antonio, Ruby Ruiz, Bing Pimentel, and Bobby Andrews.

“Deadma Walking being part of this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival is more than a blessing for us,” director Julius Alfonso told Cinema Bravo. “Having it Graded A by the Cinema Evauation Board is more than a Christmas bonus that will sustain the film’s leverage throughout the festival and more. We are ecstatic that the members of the CEB saw the charm, the fun, the vibe and feels of our film the way we intended it to be. This is indeed a Joyous Christmas for the whole team.”

“The grade A that the CEB gave Deadma Walking told me that the reviewers liked the movie a lot. But I was not prepared for the kind of raves they heaped on it. I’m shookt!” exclaimed Eric Cabahug, the film’s writer and producer.

He also shared the following highlights from the review summation of CEB on ‘Deadma Walking’:

  • Superb storytelling
  • Brilliantly visualized
  • Combines humor, drama, and camp to come up with the right mix seldom seen in the yearend filmfest
  • Witty exchanges and believable characterization
  • That it was successfully transposed from a Palanca-winning script to the screen is a triumph in itself
  • Cinematography is very good
  • Production design has wow factor
  • Musical score made good use of local talent
  • Good performances from the entire cast
  • The dark, morbid subject matter treated lightly is altogether entertaining and engaging
  • The gay tragicomedy is a different fare for the filmfest and does not disappont

In pursuant to Republic Act 9167, films which have obtained an ‘A’ grading from the CEB is entitled to an amusement tax reward of 100% of the tax collection on such film.

Rated PG by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), ‘Deadma Walking’ opens December 25, 2017 across Philippine cinemas. 

WATCH: Full trailer for ‘Deadma Walking’ reveals out-of-the-box MMFF entry, viral in social media

T-Rex Entertainment and OctoArts Films have just revealed the full trailer for its newest offering—the musical dramedy “Deadma Walking,” which has been selected as an official entry to the 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival.

The story revolves around gay BFFs (best friends for life) John and Mark played by Joross Gamboa and Edgar Allan Guzman. Their friendship is put to the test when one of them has a terminal illness and asks the other to help him stage his fake death, wake, and funeral as his dying wish. The result is a comedy of “deadly” proportions.

“Deadma Walking” also features the special participation of Gerald Anderson, Vin Abrenica, and Ms. Eugene Domingo. They are joined by Candy Pangilinan, Dimples Romana, Ricci Chan, Jojit Lorenzo, Nicco Antonio, Ruby Ruiz, Bing Pimentel, and Bobby Andrews.

“The netizens seem to love it the way I loved the story the first time I read it!” exclaimed Rex Tiri, the film’s executive producer, on the reception of the online community about the trailer, which has amassed over 500,000 views across different platforms five hours since its launch.

Director Julius Alfonso reacted to Cinema Bravo on his film being a dark horse among the eight official entries of the film festival: “Oh yes, the theme may be dark, but mind you, you will see the light… not from the tunnel, though, but from that spotlight of your life and from that lightness of being, loving and living. Dying has never been this sweet and fun. Deadma Walking promises to make you conquer that fear of the inevitable.”

“Deadma Walking” is based on an award-winning screenplay written by Eric Cabahug. It won 2nd Prize in the Screenplay division of the 2016 Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, the most prestigious literary prize in the Philippines. Past winners in the same category include the blockbuster romance-comedy “That Thing Called Tadhana.”

Cabahug shared his reaction: “Dying with anxiety and excitement. After 3 years of laboring to bring this screenplay to the big screen, we’re finally hitting cinemas in leas then 3 weeks! Hope the public embraces the movie as tightly as the Palanca jury embraced the screenplay.”

To be released and distributed by T-Rex Entertainment and OctoArts Films, “Deadma Walking” opens December 25, 2017 across Philippine cinemas. Graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board. Rated PG by the MTRCB.

Musical dramedy ‘Deadma Walking’ launches official poster, vies for MMFF 2017 slot

T-Rex Entertainment has just launched the official poster of its new offering—the musical dramedy “Deadma Walking” which has been submitted for the 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival.

“Deadma Walking” won the 2nd Prize in the Screenplay division of the 2016 Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, the most prestigious literary prize in the Philippines. Past winners in the same category include the blockbuster romance-comedy “That Thing Called Tadhana.”

The story revolves around gay BFFs (best friends for life) John and Mark whose friendship is put to the test when one of them has a terminal illness and asks the other to help him stage his fake death, wake, and funeral as his dying wish. The result is a comedy of “deadly” proportions.

“Deadma Walking” stars Joross Gamboa and Edgar Allan Guzman, with the special participation of Gerald Anderson, Vin Abrenica, and Ms. Eugene Domingo. It is also joined by Candy Pangilinan, Dimples Romana, Ricci Chan, Jojit Lorenzo, Nicco Antonio, Ruby Ruiz, Bing Pimentel, and Bobby Andrews.

Directed by Julius Alfonso, Deadma Walking is under by T-Rex Entertainment with Rex Tiri as executive producer.

Film adaptation of 2016 Palanca-winning ‘Deadma Walking’ now in production

Filming has begun on “Deadma Walking” which won the 2nd Prize in the Screenplay division of the 2016 Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, the most prestigious literary prize in the Philippines. Past winners in the same category include the blockbuster romance-comedy “That Thing Called Tadhana.”

The story revolves around gay BFFs (best friends for life) John and Mark whose friendship is put to the test when one of them has a terminal illness and asks the other to help him stage his fake death, wake, and funeral as his dying wish. The result is a comedy of “deadly” proportions.

Palanca juror Soxie Topacio, an actor and director, says it’s “comedy after comedy with a surprise ending.” Fellow juror Ed Lejano, a film writer and director, raves, “In this age of fake news, ‘Deadma Walking’ promises to be this year’s ‘Die Beautiful’ in a rollicking comedy about a fabulous, fake death.”

At least two other industry stalwarts are fans of the award-winning screenplay. “It’s beautiful!” director/writer Mark Meily cheers. “I was looking for pitfalls to happen especially since it is about a man faking his death, pero wala. Very human yung mga events that they go through. Galing!”

Film and advertising executive Madonna Tarrayo was hooked right away when she read the title. She adds, “And when I finally read the script, I found it witty and engaging. Tamang-tama ang timpla.”

For his part, ‘Deadma Walking’ screenwriter Eric Cabahug describes the film as “a celebration of the creativity, chutzpah, and can-do spirit of the Filipino in the face of trials and adversity.”

Starring in the laugh-out-loud film are Joross Gamboa and Edgar Allan Guzman, both fine actors with several awards under their belt.

Joross was named Best New Male TV Personality at the 19th Star Awards for TV, Best TV Actor at the 23rd Star Awards for TV, and Best Supporting Actor for the film “Intoy Syokoy sa Kalye Marino” at the 8th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival.

Edgar Allan, meanwhile, won Best Actor for “Ligo Na U, Lapit Na Me” at the 7th Cinemalaya filmfest, the German Moreno Youth Award at the 2012 FAMAS, and Best Actor in a Comedy at the 2012 Golden Screen Awards. He also won the Gawad Buhay Best Actor and Aliw Awards Best Actor for his performance in the stage adaptation of the movie classic “Bona.”

“Deadma Walking” presents Joross and Edgar Allan with one of the biggest acting challenges in their careers and promises to fully showcase their range and depth.

Directing the movie is industry veteran Julius Alfonso (“Felix Manalo”), a longtime assistant director for award-winning directors Joel Lamangan and Chris Martinez. The stellar production team also includes award-winning cinematographer Lee Briones (“Baler,” “Tanging Yaman”), production designer Angel Diesta (“Die Beautiful”), and editor Vanessa de Leon (“Kimmy Dora,” “The Gifted”).

The movie is produced by T-Rex Productions, producer of the historical “Ang Hapis at Himagsik ni Hermano Puli,” and the comedy “Patay Na Si Hesus” which won the Audience Award at last year’s QCinema Film Festival.

Fun, fierce, and fabulous, “Deadma Walking” will grace the big screens towards the end of 2017.