Many people outside our country are unaware of Filipino martial arts despite that it has been used in several international movies through the years.
According to prizefighter-turned-filmmaker Vincent Soberano, Pinoy martial arts can be seen in stunt scenes of such films as “Enter The Dragon” starring no less than Bruce Lee, the “Bourne” series, and in the James Bond movie “Quantum Of Solace,” among others.
So why is it not as known as, say, the Japanese Ju-do or the Chinese Kung-Fu?
“This is because Filipino martial arts don’t have a recognizable face out there. No one knows it’s Filipino because most, if not all of those who make use of the art in films, are ‘white’ Hollywood stars. We’ve always been kind of relegated to behind the scenes…”
Vincent hopes to change this with his latest international feature film “Blood Hunters,” which he directs and stars in.
A shorter version of the film about a rugged band of hunters aiming to capture an Aswang queen for her blood, won Best Short at the Cinemax HBO Action Film Competition and the Urban Action Showcase & Expo just a few weeks ago.
“My main motivation in doing ‘Blood Hunters’ is to improve the appreciation of Filipino martial arts. We have to change people’s perspective about it. The international film community has to see Filipino martial arts as done by Filipinos,” Vincent said.
Also cast in “Blood Hunters” is Taekwondo Olympian-turned-Makati Congressman Monsour Del Rosario.
“He is a childhood friend of mine,” said Vincent. “We have the same vision of inspiring pride among the youth with regards to culture through films.”
Brutal, not graceful
Vincent is confident “Blood Hunters” can compete on the international stage.
“For one, the action sequences we created for the film are unique,” he said. “Here we make use of what I call ‘biological response’ wherein the audience would feel as if they’re mere inches away from the actual fight they see onscreen.”
Vincent is using his experience as a former Muay Thai world champion (with multiple championship belts) in creating his action sequences, citing how, “unlike other directors, I know exactly how it feels to be kicked or punched, I also know how one moves when delivering the same blows.”
“So my fight scenes aren’t as graceful or as beautiful executed like a dance sequence. It is actually aggressive, it is brutal. It is an experience, not just a spectacle.”
Of course, a good story is integral to a great film and Vincent knows this too.
“The introduction of ancient Filipino folklore and superstitions as with interesting characters like the Aswang, the Dwende, Kapre, Multo, and the Diwata I believe, makes for a great story if done right. I think we achieved that in ‘Blood Hunters.’”
Are you The One?
As of the moment, Vincent and his team are looking for the right female lead who could portray a role that requires both powerful acting and intense martial arts abilities.
Vincent added, “The fight choreography team is putting together additional potential fight sequences based on input and feedback from top experts of the various forms of Filipino martial arts. The search is also on for foreign supporting cast members from China and the US.
In addition, the production design and costume design teams are collaborating on a unique, apocalyptic era look that is intrinsically Filipino.”
Production is currently shooting scenes in Morong, Bataan. The 51-year-old filmmaker hopes to craft more films around these parts. (With report from Jojo P. Panaligan)