Can Katrina surpass Vilma?

An Herculean challenge, any way you look at it.

In one of the two films she has just signed up with for OctoArts Films, Katrina Halili will play the title role of Miss X, not quite a remake of the 1980 sex-drama starring Vilma Santos as a showcase dancer in Amsterdam’s Red Light district, a follow-up to her radically image-changing turn in Celso Ad. Castillo’s Burlesk Queen. Vilma won a Best Actress award for it in that year’s Metro Filmfest but the awards were taken back, remember (prompting nitpickers to dismiss the Gabi ng Parangal as a Bawian Awards)?

“It’s scary,” admitted Katrina, No. 3 in this year’s Philippines’ 100 Sexiest Women of the FHM, after placing No. 1 (this year, Marian Rivera is “it”) for two consecutive years. “I wasn’t born yet when that movie was shown,” added Katrina, 22, “but I’d like to watch it if I get hold of a DVD copy.”

Unfortunately, said direk Gil Portes (who’s again at the helm of Miss X, subtitled Ang Filipino Porno Queen ng Amsterdam), “I myself don’t have a copy. Trigon Films owns the rights to the film. The new Miss X will be somewhat different from the original and it will be even bolder and sexier,” adding in jest, “that’s why I got (former FHM editor) Eric Ramos, a porno writer, to write the script.”

Asked if he has asked Vilma to do a cameo, direk Gil said, “yes, but she’s still reading the script.”

Funfare texted Vilma to verify and she texted back, “Nope, I’m not doing a cameo. Wala akong nakakausap tungkol dyan.”

Miss X circa 2008 will be in keeping with the times (“Warning:” Watch out for even more shocking scenes!), also to be shot in Amsterdam and slated to be released in February next year. It’s not definite yet who will play Katrina’s leading man (it was Mark Gil in the Vilma version) and some people are suggesting, “Why not Mark’s son Sid Lucero who is a good actor like his dad?”

But before that, Katrina will shoot One Night Only, the other film she’s doing for OctoArts, written and directed by Joey Javier Reyes as an official entry to this December’s Metro Filmfest.

“One Night Only is hard to describe,” said direk Joey. “The whole story happens in 12 hours where several characters cross paths. Among the other stars are Roxanne Guinoo and Angelica Panganiban, together with Diether Ocampo, Joross Gamboa and Ricky Davao as Katrina’s congressman-lover.”

According to OctoArts producer Orly Ilacad, the two projects have been on the launching pad for quite a while, waiting only for the right star.

“Katrina is perfect for both films,” said Orly.

After all, besides Marian Rivera, Katrina is one of the very few truly most in-demand young stars today, not only for TV roles but also for commercials, magazine covers and, that’s it, movies. And to think that she placed only No. 8 in the StarStruck search a few years back! “My lucky number is 8,” smiled Katrina who, before playing bida in the ongoing GMA soap Magdusa Ka, handily established herself as a bewitching kontrabida (in the same league as Cherie Gil, Dina Bonnevie, Eula Valdez, Jean Garcia and Princess Punzalan) in previous soaps (Majika and Marimar, among them.

“Enough already,” said Katrina who, two weeks ago, graced the Fil-Am Friendship Day celebration in Virginia Beach, USA, where Pinoy TV had a booth, together with Francis Magalona and Marvin Agustin. “Mas masarap siempre maging bida.”

The question now is: Can Katrina surpass, or just even equal, Vilma’s memorable performance in Miss X?

That remains to be seen.

RICKY LO
The Philippine Star

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