Melai Cantiveros topbills action-comedy with cameos of K-drama, K-pop stars

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Melai Cantiveros topbills action-comedy with cameos of K-drama, K-pop stars
Melai Cantiveros topbills the action-comedy Ma'am Chief: Shakedown in Seoul, the first film venture of Pulp Studios, which opens tomorrow, Nov. 15, in cinemas nationwide.

MANILA, Philippines — Melai Cantiveros takes the lead in the action-comedy Ma’am Chief: Shakedown in Seoul, the first-ever film venture of veteran concert producer Pulp.

In the film, she plays a police officer who is in hot pursuit of a criminal all the way to Seoul in Korea.

The comedienne-TV host is joined in the cast by Alora Sasam, Bernadette Allyson Estrada, Dustine Mayores, Enzo Almario, Jennica Garcia, Karylle Tatlonghari, Manel Sevidal, Pepe Herrera, Sela Guia, and more.

The film features special cameos by K-drama and K-pop stars such as Do Ji Han, Lee Seung Gi, Rolling Quartz, and Yuju.

“Naiyak ako kasi sa totoo lang ito ang project na talagang blessing ni Lord. Yung alam mo yung project ko na bida na ako, pressured ako, gusto ko talagang mabalik yung ginasto sa amin pero hindi ganun ang pressure (dito) eh. Pressured ako kasi parang matatapos na yung bonding namin. Yung staff and crew, sobrang close talaga namin. Itong movie na ‘to, si Lord talaga ang nag-align ng mga stars,” Melai recently told The STAR during a post-mediacon interview at Hilton Manila in Pasay City.

(“I cried because, to be honest, this project feels like a real blessing from the Lord. You see, in my past roles where I was the main character, I felt pressure to perform well and make sure the money spent on us was worthwhile. But this time, the pressure is different. It’s not about being the main character; it’s about feeling sad that our time together is ending soon. Our staff and crew are like family to me. It’s like the Lord arranged for this movie to happen.”)

Ma’am Chief is like a dream come true for Melai, who is a big fan of K-drama.

She shared, “Fan talaga ako ng K-drama, yung mga anak ko, mga K-pop, mga Blackpink man sila. So, Korean stars, sobrang fan talaga ako kaya ‘di ko na-expect na naka-shoot ako sa Korea at nadala ko pa ang pamilya ko.”

With co-stars Jennica Garcia and Alora Sasam in a scene from the film.

(“I’m a real K-drama fan, and my kids are big fans of K-pop, like Blackpink. So, I’m a huge fan of Korean stars. That’s why I never expected to film in Korea and even bring my family along.)

She continued, “Naiyak baya ako one time nag-shooting kami, so natapos na, pauwi ako sa taxi, naiyak ako kasi lumipat ako sa hotel ng mga anak ko. Lord, grabe talaga kayo, kumbaga, sino ba naman ako, pero binigyan mo ako ng ganito. Thank you so much Lord, ibabalik ko talaga sayo lahat ng glory dito sa movie na ito.”

(“I cried one time. After shooting, I was on my way back to the hotel where my kids were staying. I couldn’t believe it, Lord. It’s like, who am I to receive this, but you gave me this. Thank you so much, Lord. I’ll really give back all the glory for this movie.”)

Melai was the personal choice of producer Happee Sy-Go, PULP COO, who told Melai to just be her wacky self in the film.

The actress recalled how “Inang Reyna,” as the concert promoter is being fondly called in the K-pop community, having pioneered Korean artists’ concerts and fan meets in the Philippines, reached out to her for the film.

“Sinabi nila, parang naramdaman lang ni Inang Reyna na mukha akong tanga hahaha. No, parang nararamdaman niya na happy-go-lucky ako, na magagampanan ko talaga. ‘Wag lang daw ako mag in-character. Ako daw talaga, no effort required.”

(“They said Inang Reyna somehow felt that I looked a bit silly [laughs]. No, it’s more like she sensed that I’m easygoing and can genuinely play the role. She just advised me not to act in character, to be myself, effortless.”)

“Pero may acting naman hahaha! But na-amaze naman ako na ako naisip niya from seven years ago. She messaged me on Instagram and tapos pinahanap ako. Pag-message ko sa kanya, I said, seryoso po kayo? Totoo po ba na ako? ‘Oo, bukas meeting na.’ So, wala ng audition.

Melai plays the role of a policewoman pursuing a criminal all the way to Seoul.

(“But there’s still acting involved, haha! I was amazed that she thought of me seven years ago. She messaged me on Instagram and had someone look for me. When I messaged her back, I asked, ‘Are you serious? Is it really me?’ She said, ‘Yes, we have a meeting tomorrow.’ So, no audition.”)

“Sabi ng asawa niya, kung ‘di ko daw tatanggapin, ibang movie ang gagawin nila. Hindi ako papalitan, ibang movie daw. Ako talaga gusto nila. Sabi ni Sir Vernon (Go), English kasi yung asawa niya, ‘If you don’t accept…’ I will accept hahaha!”

(“Her husband said, ‘If you don’t accept, they’ll make a different movie. They won’t replace me; they really want me.’ Sir Vernon (Go) said, his husband is English-speaking, ‘If you don’t accept...’ I will accept, haha!”)

Without revealing specific figures, Melai acknowledged that the talent fee was “bongga (great)” and so were the shoot locations. She said they traveled to Cebu, Davao, GenSan, and stayed in impressive hotels both here and in South Korea.

Fans should also look out for the exciting cameos of Korean actors and idols, like Lee Seung Gi. “Grabe si Lee Seung Gi, he smelled nice even from a distance. We felt a bit shy when he walked in like the real ‘oppa’ that he is. You’ll melt like ice cream when you see him. We were really amazed by Lee Seung Gi,” Melai said.

She also gets a Korean leading man (or is it leading men?) and noted that their Korean production counterpart had previously worked on hit K-dramas such as Crash Landing On You.

“I really thank the Lord for this project. You really won’t regret the P300 (ticket price). Why? They’ve done an excellent job, and they didn’t skimp on it.”

After her experience with a film project that showcases the collaboration between Filipino and Korean productions, she expressed openness to working on similar projects in the future.

And if she ever gets an offer, she quipped, “Kailangan sabihan ko sila ng magdasal muna. Kasi baka ‘di sila seryoso. Baka naman nabudol sila. Pero sobrang open uy. Pero itong Ma’am Chief sobrang thank you Lord, binigay sa akin. Kahit ito lang no problem na ako.”

(“They need to pray first before approaching me. Because they might not be serious, or maybe they were just fooled. But, I’m very open to it. But this Ma’am Chief project, I’m extremely grateful that the Lord gave it to me, and I’m perfectly content with it.”)

Directed by Kring Kim and produced by Pulp Studios, Ma’am Chief: Shakedown in Seoul opens in Philippine cinemas tomorrow, Nov. 15.

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