Plot: masseuses by day, sexy government spies by night. It’s party time!
Filipino exploitation is alive and well. The old Charlie's Angels (1976-1981) recipe remains as popular and fertile as ever. Extra Service is both a straightforward action-comedy on the Charlie's Angels (1976-1981) (itself reimagined for the modern audiences in 2000 and most recently in 2019) model and a spoof of the spy-action genre in the vein of the amiable but ultimately futile D.E.B.S. (2004). Star Cinema went all out on this one attracting some of the most beautiful people in front of the camera and some of the best up-and-coming talent behind it. Savaged by critics and audience alike Extra Service has garnered a reputation as some of the worst Filipino cinema has wrought in recent years. This is the sort of thing that will make you long for the inoffensive vanilla exploitation that Mainland China has become a specialist in. Ostensibly described as a sexy action-comedy Extra Service effortlessly fails at all three
Apparently one of the tent pole releases for ABS-CBN Film Productions and their family-oriented subsidiary Star Cinema Extra Service comes brimming with young talent. The men behind Extra Service are Chris Martinez and Ronald Allan Habon. Martinez was the director of Kimmy Dora and the Kyemeng Prequel (2013) and Habon was the writer of The Super Parental Guardians (2016) or the highest-grossing domestic production in recent history. Starring Kapamilya sex bombs Jessy Mendiola (sometime Barbie Girl, fashion icon and FHM’s sexiest woman in the Philippines in 2016), Arci Muñoz and Coleen Garcia (each color-coded for your convenience) and for all female patrons there are Pinoy heartthrobs Enzo Pineda, Vin Abrenica and Ejay Falcon (most, if not all, take their shirt off at least once) Extra Service sports candy-colored production design redolent of the prime works of Luigi Cozzi and DOA: Dead or Alive (2006) and some of the most breast-centric costumes this side of Mainland China actioner Ameera (2014). Obviously aimed at the teen set and custodian to some of the most criminally unfunny comedy in recent years Extra Service is not only marred by bad action direction and laughable fight choreography, it features some of the worst CGI and visual effects that makes the average Sino webmovie look expensive. As such Extra Service is the complete antithesis of BuyBust (2018) and Maria (2019).
Aurora or Aw (Arci Muñoz), Emerald or Em (Coleen Garcia) and Geneviève or Gee (Jessy Mendiola) are former convicts who were incarcerated for individual crimes and now form a team of professional thieves. Aw has exceptional leadership skills, Em excels at combat and marksmanship and Gee has both the boobs and the brains. In prison they forge a bond with Beverly (Kitkat Bañas, as Kitkat) and her wrecking crew Daphne (Sunshine Teodoro) and Ashley (Star Orjaliza) but are forced to betray her when the government offers them a deal. The girls work as masseuses at the Touch Mahal Spa somewhere in Manila. To Lolly (Tessie Tomas) Aw, Em and Gee are just three fun-loving ditzes. One day the three are servicing mute Larry (Enzo Pineda) who literally hands them his briefs for a high-stakes infiltration mission to obtain a code. Kapitana (or Captain), Henya (or Genius) and Maldita (or Warfreak) spring in action and upon completing the objective they are recruited into the elite national-defense group F.O.T.A. (Filipino Organization of Top Agents) by hard-nosed L (Carmi Martin).
L informs the girls that Don José Mondragon (Jaime Fabregas) has arranged to marry off his son Pacquito (Janus del Prado) to Mari (Kim Molina), the daughter of head of Yakuza Doña Akira Suzumo (Arlene Muhlach). Neither party is particularly pleased with the decision as Mari is an empty-headed fashionista and Pacquito is flamboyantly gay. The marriage will consolidate the power of the Mondragon crime cartel over the Philippines and simultaneously allow the Yakuza access to the islands riches. Aw, Em and Gee are tasked to retrieve the three Perlas Ng Silangan (or the Pearls of the Orient), worth around $1 million each, from as many high-risk locations. The self-professed #SexySquad must infiltrate the high-security Mondragon stag party to obtain the Luzon Blue, enter the Miss Yakisobabe MMA contest (and come out alive) for the Visayas Red and penetrate the Mondragon-Suzumo wedding ceremony for the Mindanao White. Things are further complicated when during a mission sparks fly between Aw and Moises or Moe (Ejay Falcon), Em attracts the attention (and wins the affection) of PNP police officer Carlo (Vin Abrenica) and L’s nephew Larry falls madly in love with Gee – and each of the three lovers have the bad habit of showing up at the most inconvenient of times. F.O.T.A. has lined up the three Julia (Michelle Vito, Alexa Ilacad and Elisse Joson) as new recruits should the team fail. Will #SexySquad be able to overcome their personal hang-ups and complete their most dangerous mission yet?
The humor is puerile and juvenile for the most part, although there are a few things that gave us a good chuckle. First and foremost, the jokes start early with the character names. Say Aw, Em, Gee really quick and you get “OMG!” and the government agency the girls end up working for is called fota (which is really close to pota, or the Tagalog word for bitch). In true Cutie Honey (2004) fashion the girls will scream “it’s party time!” in unison at the start of every mission and the extravagant breast-centric costumes recall Naked Soldier (2012) and Ameera (2014) in equal measure. The Miss Yakisobabe MMA vignette briefly channels Kick Ass Girls (2013) but sadly Gee’s chest never ends up cushioning any blows or give her any advantage, tactical or otherwise. Speaking of which, there’s no equivalent to Frieda Hu Meng-Yuan (胡梦媛) or Pan Chun-Chun (潘春春) but Jessy Mendiola will make you long for Analyn Barro. The running gag involving L and her never-detonating smoke grenade will elicit a smile at first but very quickly wears out its welcome. The usage of phonetic English is ubiquitous in Asian productions – and it’s fittingly terrible here as well. The training mission allows Arci Muñoz to show off her acrobatic skill amidst some pretty awful CGI and it makes you wish she’d be offered a Mission: Impossible or The Expendables sequel. For a sexy comedy Extra Service always remains modest and even Fetching Nurses (麻辣俏護士) (2016) was sexier on average and the action direction was leagues better in Bring Me the Head Of the Machine Gun Woman (2012). If the concluding fashion montage is anything to go by than somewhere deep within Extra Service longs to be a bikini-centric Hawaiian spy-action romp in the tradition of Andy Sidaris. Unfortunately, that’s something Star Cinema would never allow under their general audience banner.
While Extra Service is pretty dire at least there’s the figment of a good idea here. In the hands of an experienced action director this could have been something good. Muñoz, Mendiola and Garcia obviously have chemistry – and it’s a bit sad that it’s wasted on something as vanilla as this. Given that in the half decade since no sequel materialized this is likely to remain a stand-alone feature. Perhaps within another 5 years the Extra Service brand can be reimagined and given the treatment it deserves. The credit montage with Muñoz, Mendiola and Garcia twirling around in their bikinis is worth the price of admission alone. Had this been produced under a different banner and gravitated more towards Naked Killer (1992) rather than Naked Soldier (2012) perhaps than it would be worth anything more than a casual mention. As it stands now its ill reputation isn’t unfounded. While this may never reach My Cousin the Sexologist (2016) levels of direness this should have been so much better than what we got. Regardless of how you might feel about it Extra Service conclusively proves that Filipino exploitation is alive and well. This is an entirely different beast than the exploitation from back in the halcyon days of Cirio H. Santiago, Eddie Romero and Bobby Suarez. Extra Service might not go that extra mile but it’s serviceable enough for what it is.