From the get-go, writer-director-actor and former Filipino Muay Thai World Champion Vincent Soberano’s vision was clear-eyed. He aimed to make action movies alive and palatable again, not just to local audiences but to international viewers as well. And Soberano knew how to go about it: combine meticulously-choreographed action sequences with topnotch production details, and at the very heart of it, a journey in humanity.
With the upcoming film The Trigonal, Soberano is set to realize his long-held dream. The Trigonal has caught the attention of Real Pictures Entertainment, a Chinese production company with a distribution arm. Following the film’s limited premiere in Beijing on March 14, a distribution deal has been sealed and The Trigonal is poised to be shown all throughout China.“Several Hollywood and Chinese film industry executives were impressed at how the film looked ‘so expensive’ and ‘international’ and not the stigmatized expectations from a Filipino film. They loved the diverse and unique action choreography and cinematography. They especially loved how the Chinese characters in the story are pivotal to the success of the main character and his journey,” shares Soberano.
The film has also been slated for a World Premiere at the Cannes Marche du Film on May 12. Following that, Viva Films has taken on the film for its Philippine release on July 18, and subsequently for TV broadcasting rights. Talks are underway for a US release in August this year as well.
The Trigonal is about Jacob Casa, a Fil-Am martial arts champion who returns to his hometown and opens an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) school with his childhood friend. He is obsessed about the fight game, finding it hard to turn down any chance to engage in professional competition.
All the while, he is deeply in love with his Fil-Am wife Annie. Complicating matters is when Jacob starts to consider taking on an underground fight, his wife and unborn child become collateral in a ruthless drug lord’s lunatic ambitions.
For the lead roles of Jacob and Annie, Soberano handpicked theater-trained actor Ian Ignacio and actress Rhian Ramos.
“I wanted an actor who looked entirely Filipino, not mestizo or half-breed to play Jacob. He should also be as great an actor as he is a martial artist,” Soberano says.
Ignacio, a black belt in Taekwondo, the protégé of Taekwondo legend Monsour del Rosario and the son of Karate master Levi Ignacio fit the bill.
Making the ensemble of actors even more formidable is the casting of several well-known Chinese artists like Chinese UFC star Li Jing Liang, Hong Kong producer/actor Gus Liem who recently released his comedy blockbuster Girls 2, and the fast-rising Chinese-American action star Sarah Chang who has been the lead in a string of big movies in China this year.The amazing feat of The Trigonal is proof once more of how talented and of international caliber Filipino filmmakers are.“I wanted to make a movie that combines a love story with a thriller, some comedy, and a whole lot of mixed martial arts action never before seen on screen. The movie abounds with symbolism. The Trigonal (a term coined and trademarked by Soberano himself) refers to an underground fighting arena shaped like a triangle. It also represents the film’s three principal characters and three subplots. The triangle in itself is a symbol of mixed martial arts,” Soberano explains.
What the multi-hyphenate Soberano has set out to accomplish has to date garnered a lot of attention in China. Significantly, Soberano has been signed to direct two big-budget action films this year by Origin Pictures Beijing and its Korean partner, East Dreams. This is the first time in history that a Filipino director has been at the helm of a major film in mainland China.
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