Fresh from winning the coveted Best Short Film at the prestigious Cinemax HBO Action Film Competition and Urban Action Showcase (2016) with his short film Blood Hunters, martial arts star, writer, producer and director Vincent Soberano sets the stage for a new era of Filipino action films that could penetrate the international market with Blood Hunters: Rise of the Hybrids.
During an intimate interview with filmmaker and star Vincent Soberano with his lead female star Sarah Chang, Chang states, “it’s about never giving up, about conquering your pain, conquering yourself. Gabriella (her character in the film) never gives up, Vince (Soberano’s character) will never give up on his dream. Blood Hunters will conquer the world,” describing the full-length adapttion of the award-winning short film.
She then continues, “And what it is to work with all different cultures in the world. Like martial arts is its own community, we all speak martial arts.” Chang stresses that the film will promote and showcase different kinds of martial arts from all over the world.
For Soberano, his main motivation is to promote Filipino martial arts in Filipino movies to the international audience. “They’ve used Filipino martial arts in blockbuster action films like John Wick, Jason Bourne, Frankenstein, and a huge list of other films,” he says. “But no one knows it’s Filipino because it’s always portrayed by Hollywood stars. It’s about time I did.”
This film is a collaboration between two Filipino martial arts stars, Taekwondo Olympic medalist Monsour Del Rosario and Muay Thai world champion Vincent Soberano.
Del Rosario wants to inspire the young men and boys of the country to build strong character and fighting spirit. Soberano wants to portray Filipinos to the world as powerful and formidable warriors.
Soberano’s personal interest in comic books and stories of the supernatural inspired him to combine martial arts and fantasy into an action-packed screenplay. Melding fantasy, action and martial arts makes a good universal theme for commercial films, judging from box-office hits
like Blade, Matrix, Frankenstein, Warcraft, Assassins Creed, Man with the Iron Fist, and a slew of other hard-hitting blockbusters.
He points out, “The martial arts action sequences are so unique and have never been seen in action cinema before. This is a big factor in the film’s success. That, and the introduction of ancient Filipino folklore and superstitions, with characters such as the Aswang, Dwende, Kapre, Multo, and Diwata. A cultural, martial arts, fantasy action film is always a great combination if done right. This is the perfect blend that we have achieved”.
For both Del Rosario and Soberano, as well as lead actress Sarah Chang, martial arts is a way of life. Del Rosario and Soberano both started training at the age of 8 in their hometown of Bacolod City.
Chang started training Wushu at age 7 in her hometown of Virginia, under the tutelage of Jet Li’s former teammate.
“Blood Hunters,” the award-winning short film that Soberano wrote, produced and directed is now a full-length film project titled “Blood Hunters: Rise of the Hybrids.” The foundations of the original story are still there but the background, characters and drama hasevolved into intertwined events and relationships.
With the personalities and reputations of Del Rosario and Soberano, it is easy to hype up the movie. There have been thousands of positive feedback regarding this project as the Filipino public is clamoring for a new generation of action films.
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. The result will be a commercial action film with distinctly Filipino features and cultural aspects that will appeal to the international audience.
“This is set on a post-apocalyptic era, a parallel universe where there’s a strain of virus where it transforms people into blood-thirsty hybrids, almost like a zombie but they’re intelligent, zombies that are becoming more supernatural, kind of combining zombies and vampires. But the locals call them aswang because that’s the only thing they can think of. But they’re really not the traditional aswang, they’re like the new kind of aswang. So, in the jungle, in the Philippines, they have this hunters, blood hunters, these guys hunt down the aswang creatures and extract their blood to sell to the evil corporation,” Soberano describes the film’s plot.
“It’s a story of perseverance, of how you start from something and it gets destroyed but then you recover and succeeds,” Soberano continues.
It should also be a plus that its lead female actor Sarah Chang is one of the prominent names on getting the lead role in the upcoming live-action take on Disney’s Asian princess Mulan. She feels like the role was written for her, like a tailor-made character that fits her character and skills. “Mulan for me is like the ultimate, in my lifetime, there’ll never be a role like Mulan,” Chang exclaims.
“Blood Hunters: Rise of the Hybrids” is coming to Philippine cinemas soon.
Check out the 30 second trailer of the short film here:
Watch the videos of our interview with Vincent Soberano and Sarah Chang on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/pelikulamania