‘Fight for Justice’ is a dream come true for actor-martial artist

September 19, 2017 - 9:36 AM
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Ian Ignacio and Rhian Ramos. (Photos by Jill Tan Radovan/InterAksyon)

More and more filmmakers are pushing the envelope, past the boundaries of convention and towards creating unique but high quality films. One of these is former martial arts champion and now director-producer Vincent Soberano, the mastermind behind award-winning action short “Blood Hunters” and the documentary “On the Brink: Unchartered Waters.”

Vincent pays homage to his roots in yet another action-packed film. “Fight for Justice” explores the intricacies of the martial arts known as Tapado, which originated in Vincent’s native Negros Occidental.

Such an exploration is made possible through the film’s central character, Jacob Casa, played by up-and-coming actor Ian Ignacio.

Ian was last seen playing one of the Scout Rangers in the advocacy film “Ang Araw Sa Likod Mo.” Playing Jacob in “Fight for Justice” is his first lead role in a full-length feature film. And while the role seems tailor-made for the 6’3” actor and martial artist, he still felt nervous when it was first offered to him.

“It’s a lead, which makes me a little anxious. Pero I’m gonna take that energy and take it as something positive,” Ian said in an interview with Interaksyon.

Despite his training in theater, acting in past film projects and experience competing professionally as a martial artist, his latest endeavour still struck him as a big challenge.

He explains, “I think every new journey has challenges in itself, whether it was on the martial arts side or the craft of acting side. I am already going through the journey as I read the script, the journey of Jacob, and he goes through a whirlwind of things. And just embodying that, and at the same time, this is my first heavy acting plus heavy martial arts role.”

“Usually it’s one or the other. It’s a huge combination of both. So it’s a new challenge, a new journey. There is no such thing as failures, just lessons. So I’m willing to learn and keep learning, to continue to learn.”

Director-producer Vincent Sembrano; and Ian Ignacio with co-star Sarah Chang. (Photos by Jill Tan Radovan/InterAksyon)

Ian’s character, Jacob, is torn between nurturing his marriage and having kids, or focusing on his first love, fighting and competing. Things get messy when he initially refuses to compete in an underground fighting tournament and the organizer’s henchmen assault his wife and best friend.

Rhian Ramos stars as Jacob’s wife, Annie.

Ian has only nice things to say about working with Rhian. “It was great. We worked well together. She is an excellent actress.”

Viewers of the film can expect cutting-edge action and stunts made possible through the use of world class state-of-the-art equipment and trough working with trainers who honed their expertise through Jacky Chan’s stunt team.

Ian himself felt more secure performing the stunts given the quality equipment. “This equipment isn’t here para mangdaya. It’s more to protect your performers and to get quality. Let’s not lie; the quality of action deteriorates as funds started diminishing. Sometimes that happens when you’re not protected.

“Dito hindi yun kailangan. Hindi ka na nanginginig na parang pinupusta mo buhay mo for a stunt. At least you know you’re getting quality, the bang for your buck,” he said.

For the film’s producers, “Fight for Justice” is a full-throttle breakthrough action film that aims to serve as a benchmark for future locally produced action movies For Ian, however, it’s a little more than that. He has poured everything he could into this project.

“There’s no best time but now, there’s no better time than the present. There’s no other time that deserves more of your focus and attention than the present. It’s a dream come true,” he said.

Shooting for “Fight for Justice” was held in Negros Island, including Bacolod City and Lakawon Island. The film is now in post-production.

Taekwondo champ Monsour del Rosario, Chinese-American actress Sarah Chang and top Chinese UFC contender Li Jingliang and Vincent Soberano himself star in the film. Produced by Jessie Efeno, Tony Aguirre (Playa Network) and Oli Laperal (RS Video & Film Productions), this ambitious action film is poised for international release in 2018.