First off, a little confession: we didn’t get to catch the first Kimmy Dora. But. The fact that the the film was a laugh-out-loud affair didn't escape us. The twins Kimmy and Dora, two sisters who couldn’t be more different from each other, played by the talented Eugene Domingo, captured a Filipino audience wanting something freshly funny.
Three years after, we finally get a sequel, Kimmy Dora 2 and The Temple of Kiyeme. If you think the subtitle sounds wacky. Wait ‘til you see the actual flick.
Kimmy Dora 2 sees the sisters Kimmy, the bitchy businesswoman with a bite as nasty as an Amazon piranha, and Dora, the slightly retarded yet endearing simpleton with a penchant for tilting her head slightly whenever she speaks, living under one roof. Much to Kimmy’s dismay. Together, they give their dad, their company’s patriarch, a massive headache. The two sisters kind of have a love/hate affair that results in expectedly hilarious situations. One would be surprised at Dora’s passive-aggressive retorts at her “O.A.” ate, while Kimmy’s constant annoyance at Kimmy is wholly amusing, partly because it amuses us to see bitches going crazy.
Eugene Domingo is a comedic gem as she plays both roles with conviction. Her execution is decidedly hammy, but such is right under the film’s silly premise. She’s scary when she’s Kimmy—cold, calculating, just plain bitchy, and will not hesitate to throw you off a running vehicle when she’s in a bad mood. Just ask her assistant, Miriam Quiambao who suffers the worst for it.
When she’s donning the Dora persona, she’s just adorably cute—a well of clever witticisms that we plan to use in real life. Surprising how Dora’s supposed to be the simple one when her lines are probably some of the funniest in the flick.
Yet no matter how we praise Eugene, the movie as a whole, sometimes gets too ridiculous. You can say that that’s to be expected, but the films' bag of tricks—a mix of slapstick, visual gaggery, and all-out foolishness—can grow stale quick.
Here’s the story’s backbone: told through a flashback, Kimmy and Dora’s dad breaks off an arranged marriage with the pretty Sang Kang Kang played by Alodia Gosiengfiao. The heartbroken Kang Kang (we were giggly too the first time we heard the name) turns psycho and essentially curses the Kimmy Dora clan. Now, she haunts and makes them feel her ghostly Korean wrath in present times.
It’s a wacky film, but the wackiness can overwhelm if you like your comedy with a little more nuance. In the end though, it’s a matter of preference. For viewers, it can be a love/hate affair not unlike the one between Kimmy and Dora.
Kimmy Dora 2 attempts some genre-bending of its own. It attempts to bring a new flavor to the table with its horror elements. That Sang Kang Kang is freaky. Freaky scary. Mad props to the prosthetics and special effects team for the wild Sadako-ish impersonation, and also to Alodia, for the commendable performance. Possibly because of the fact that we did not expect those horror elements, the film did creep us out a couple of times. The horror scenes are executed with techniques similar to a host of Asian horror films.
The question is, does the formula work? In a film as far out as this one, anything could happen—ghosts dueling to the death, calling each other “sluts,” notwithstanding. Yet, things get confusing at times for the viewer. One minute you’re frozen in your seat creeped out by the Sang Kang Kang’s presence, and the next, you’re hearing Dora’s hammy screaming. It’s slightly jarring, and by the end, you find yourself fatigued from the constant tone shift. To the filmmaker’s credit, well, mixing horror and comedy has always been a tricky business.
Ultimately, Kimmy Dora 2: Temple of Kiyeme could sometimes get too ridiculous for its own good, but this show’s star, Eugene Domingo, helps save it from being just another Pinoy comedy. She just sells the entire thing through and through, almost making us believe that she French-kissed Dingdong Dantes and Zanjoe Marudo.