Luck at First Sight

This is a review of the movie Luck at First Sight.


Luck at First Sight is director Dan Villegas and Viva Films’ latest romantic comedy offering that is more about gambling than romance or comedy.

Luck at First Sight revolves around the lives of Joma (Jericho Rosales) and Diane (Bela Padilla), two unlucky people when it comes to financial matters.

On one hand, Joma is a gambler who does not know when to stop playing to enjoy the fruits of his nightly visits to illegal gambling dens. His inability to play high stakes game place him heavily in debt to a lot of people, from his neighbors to Rod (Thou Reyes), a thug that is more annoying and distracting than scary. On the other hand, Diane is the breadwinner who mans the little family pharmacy called Botikahappy, and takes care of her ailing father George (Dennis Padilla). Their unlucky situations influence them to believe in the power of lucky charms. According to a charms expert, the ultimate of lucky charms is a life charm because it cannot be bought. A life charm is free because it is a person, the only downside is, one cannot fall in love with it.

Poster of Viva Films’ Luck at First Sight starring Jericho Rosales and Bela Padilla. This one in Robinson’s Magnolia MovieWorld.

As he walks with his sidekick Bogs (Cholo Barretto), Joma plays with his newly-purchased P15,000 (US $300.00) eye of the mountain Buddha (na mukhang holen), he bumps into Diane in the streets, with her own sidekick, cousin Kati (Kim Molina). His fortune reverses immediately. The first touch leads to a couple more touches, and with his theory confirmed that Diane is his life charm, he proposes a plan to Diane. After they agree to a four terms and conditions, Joma and Diane embark on their journey to try their lucks and reverse their fortunes. With the belief that skin contact is imperative in their luck, Joma and Diane gamble together, with their body parts touching, mostly their hands at first, to raise the amount of money each of them needs.

Of course, the touching progresses to more touching as they make their way from the badly-lit illegal gambling dens to the street cockfights, with a scratch card or two thrown in. It is only natural for two attractive people who touch each other continuously to fall in love with each other. But wait, the charms expert mentioned that falling in love is a big no-no. As if the world can feel the love molecules vibrating between Joma and Diane, they lose their winnings in one night of gambling and another irritating appearance of Rod. Tears are shed and harsh words are exchanged.

More than a year after that ill-fated night, Joma and Diane meet in Eton Centris (yeah, I just want to mention that, hahaha) where they bury the hatchet, to the delight of Bogs and Kati.

Luck at First Sight has tediously predictable plot, and save for Bogs and Kati, the characters are middling at best, and vexing at worst. Joma and Diane are one-dimensional characters consumed by their need for money, the former to pay his debts and save his ass in the process and to acquire his childhood home his father gambled away, the latter to pay for the hospitalization of her rather pabebe father who has chronic renal failure. I call him pabebe because I am irked by characters (and people in general) who bemoan their situations in a sweet way with puppy eyes but not do anything significant to extricate themselves from their predicament.

Joma and Diane are mainly seen in the context of gambling, with the exception of their visits at the pharmacy and Joma’s childhood home. It is hard to feel the romance, albeit with too much touching and hugging, in the midst of playing cards, dice and chips. Moreover, Joma and Diane talk about gambling more than they talk about their feelings for each other. Joma explains to Diane (and to the audience) the mechanics of each game in layman’s terms. At one point, he says that craps is like stock trading. There is no talk of romance, no pining for each other, and there are very minimal meaningful looks. At best, there is physical attraction that can lead to a romp in bed, but definitely not romance.

Rosales and Padilla are striking actors but have no onscreen chemistry. The dearth of sweet moments suggests that they are more like buddies who are just too overly affectionate to one another rather than possible lovebirds. The saving grace of their scenes is the naturalness of their actions, which is attributable to the two being decent actors.

Barretto and Molina are the comedic foils of the relatively serious protagonists. They also act as the conscience and/or commentators, especially Barretto’s Bogs during Joma’s poker matches. Bogs and Kati are too cute together, they fight like cats and dogs from the onset but do it in a cariño brutal manner. Ang matalo pikon. Their hirit and hugot lines are borderline funny on the verge of being politically incorrect or socially insensitive. However, it is indicative of Filipino humor. When the four of them are together, it is just a little hard to understand everything they say because they talk simultaneously. For her part, Kati talks nonstop, and it feels like some of what she says are ad-libs, which seems unnecessary.

Luck at First Sight is a romantic comedy with a smidgen of romance, a dash of comedy, and a cupful of poker. The mediocre story runs the constant course of predictability, without a hint of either a left or a right turn. The protagonists are mildly tolerable, and even when they spend 80% of the film together, they fail to lit the screen on fire. Luck at First Sight needs more than luck to keep the audience transfixed on the big screen or to finish the entirety of the movie.

I exited from the theater with a meh expression on my face, with only one question in my mind, “bakit bitin ang pantalon ni Jericho Rosales?”


Stray Observations:

  1. Bakit bitin ang pantalon ni Jericho Rosales sa Luck at First Sight? Yes, it needs repeating because he wore bitin pants several times.
  2. Jeric Raval, his unlit cigarette, and his five-hair-strand bang should have their own film. I will watch it. Many times over.
  3. The karera ng kabayo in Manila Jockey Club looked fun!!! I want to go there!
  4. What is the probability of rolling a 7 four consecutive times in a game of craps?
  5. Dennis Padilla went from being a wasted character in Can’t Help Falling in Love to an exasperating one in Luck at First Sight. I prefer the older version.


Hugot Lines from the movie Luck at First Sight:

“Parang soulmate ‘yan. Malalaman mo na nahanap mo na ang life charm mo kung sunud-sunod ang swerte mo.” – Lucky charms expert

“Eye of the mountain Buddha? ‘Di ba holen ‘yan?” – Bogs (Cholo Barretto)

“Pakiramdam ko kasi ikaw ang swerte ko.” – Joma (Jericho Rosales)

“Ikaw at ako, swerte tayo.” – Joma

“Bigyan mo lang ako ng isang pagkakataon. Isang Pagkakataon. Promise.” – Joma

“Business deal and pinunta namin dito, hindi group date.” – Bogs

“Anong level ng dikit ang epektibo?” – Joma

“Magdikit-dikit pa tayo ng kamay. Libre ‘to (French fries).” – Kati (Kim Molina)

“Parang domestic helper pero local.” – George (Dennis Padilla)

“’Di tayo nagsusugal, business deal ito.” – Joma

“Kain tayo dun sa maraming kutsara at tinidor.” – Kati

“Kapag madali ba ang lahat, pahahalagahan mo ba? – Diane (Bela Padilla)

“Maski hindi siya doktor, nakakagamot siya ng maysakit.” – Diane

“Hindi mo alam na mamahalin kita o hindi moa lam na mahuhuli kitang ginagago mo ako?” – Diane

“’Di na swerte ang pinapagana ni Joma, mas mahigit sa swerte. Pagmamahal.” – Bogs

“Teka, lulunukin ko ulit ang bayag ko.” – Bogs


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