“This is not really a remake but more of a sequel, kasi we have to update the material for today’s young audiences,” says Direk GB. “Vhong is Kiefer, or Keps for short. Anak siya ng original Mang Kepweng pero itinago siya sa publiko for an important reason. Si Jaclyn Jose ang nanay niya at kapatid niya si James Blanco as Doc Zach. May iniwang bandana si Mang Kepweng na nang isuot ni Keps sa ulo niya, nagkaroon siya ng kapangyarihan para manggamot as an albularyo.”
Did Vhong get to watch any of the past Mang Kepweng movies? “May napanood ako noong bata pa ko pero natakot ako doon sa multong sumusunod sa kanya, si Piling. Isinama rin si Piling dito sa bagong movie and he’s now played by comedian Tuko. Fan ako ng comedians like Dolphy and Chiquito kasi, gaya ko, they started as dancers at magaling silang sumayaw. Kung maghi-hit itong ‘Mang Kepweng Returns’, I hope I’m given the chance to play the other memorable characters he created like ‘Asyong Aksaya’ and ‘Mr. Wong’. Kay Tito Dolphy naman, with whom I had the chance of working sa ABS-CBN, gusto ko sanang i-remake yung hit niyang ‘Facifica Falayfay’.”
“Mang Kepweng Returns” is produced by new producers of Cineko Productions and released by Viva. It has a very big cast. Aside from the stars we’ve mentioned, also in the cast are Sunshine Cruz as the wife of James Blanco, sexpot Kim Domingo (who was absent at the presscon as she had to undergo a medical procedure) as Sunshine’s sister Alyssa who becomes Vhong’s love interest, Kapuso stars Louise de los Reyes and Juancho Trivino as a pair of young lovers, Pen Medina as Vhong’s rival albularyo Impong Kapiz, Jackie Rice as the fairy Princess Alesandra who teaches Vhong how to use his magic bandana, comedians Alex Calleja and Jobert Austria as Vhong’s barkada, Crazy Duo Mickey and Bugs as duwendes, and appearing as Vhong’s various patients are Lotlot and Matet de Leon, Ahron Villena, Odette Khan, Marlou Arizala, plus Jhong Hilario, Ryan Bang, Helga Krapf, Shalala, Petite, Gerard Acao and child stars Balang, Joshua and Chun Sa playing different roles.
“Mang Kepweng Returns” opens in theaters on January 4 right after the Metro Filmfest that ends on January 3. “January 4 is my birthday so magandang senyales yan,” says Vhong. “Blessing in disguise na hindi ito nasali sa filmfest kasi malalaking movies ang makakalaban ko kung nataong nakapasok pareho sina Vice Ganda at Bossing Vic Sotto. Now, at least, solong-solo ko ang January 4 playdate.”
Has he forgiven the people who harmed him? “Mahirap magpatawad sa mga taong hindi naman humihingi ng tawad at hindi rin nagsisisi sa mga ginawa nila.”