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Saturday, March 14, 2020

Review: Blood Hunters: Rise of the Hybrids

Director: Vincent Soberano
Screenplay: Vincent Soberano
Year: 2020

Exiting and vertiginous movies such as “Blade” or “Rampant” have shown that action and horror complement each other and can be combined to create entertaining movies. With a few touches of fantasy and Filipino folklore, “Blood Hunters: Rise of the Hybrids” follows the path of action and horror at a fast-paced rhythm combining martial arts with vampire-like creatures. 

In a world where vampire-like creatures known as Aswag live at their fullest spreading fear into humans, a group of soldiers seeks to hunt and finish them. After an encounter with one of the strongest Aswag, Gabriella is rescued by the group of hunters. Gabriella joins the hunter’s efforts who are later backed-up by a human/Aswag hybrid, all with the same common goal. 

“Blood Hunters: Rise of the Hybrids” starts by putting the viewer in context of this alternate world where the Aswag dominate and exposes the story of how they came to power. This part of the movie is presented in an attractive comic book style, which is later used in several parts and that helps keeping the fantastic tone. Following this, we meet Gabriella (Sarah Chang; “The Teacher”) as she squares off with Naga (Temujin Shirzada; “Fatal Blades”), a powerful Aswag that killed her family and in which Gabriella seeks vengeance. 
During these initial scenes, it is shown how much weight does the Filipino mythology, as well as martial arts, will have in the movie. Both topics reach the core of the director and screenwriter’s Vincent Soberano’s (“The Trigonal: Fight For Justice”) background, who has Filipino roots and who has spent a good deal of his life training in martial arts. The fight scenes at a fast tempo in a suspense and fantasy atmosphere are frequent and keep the adrenaline flowing during its short 70 minutes runtime. 

The exciting action scenes are the strong part of “Blood Hunters: Rise of the Hybrids”, but although they are well done, the editing style in most of them in a quick-cut and chaotic way makes it hard to appreciate what is going on and affects its best attribute. Also, spending so much time in the fights affects the development of some parts of the plot as well as the development of some characters that end up being too superficial. This causes that at some points the story feels like it’s throwing too much at you with very little explanation as to why. 

The fight scenes get to be effective because of the skill level of the actors in martial arts, although this doesn’t translate as acting skills, which stands out during exposition scenes where this limitation is more evident. However, most of the cast do at the least a decent job that helps keep the viewer engaged in the story and that is balanced out by the great fight scenes. The visuals are attractive, as much as in the comic book style sections as in the general cinematography and make-ups. 

“Blood Hunters: Rise of the Hybrids” is an exciting blend of action and horror at a fast pace that splashes adrenaline everywhere. Its visual style and the mix of horror, action, and creatures based on Filipino culture show to be a good combination for an entertaining and vertiginous story. Some minor flaws in the acting and script are not enough to overshadow the enjoyment based on its action scenes, as well as in the fantastic story.

“Blood Hunters: Rise of the Hybrids” is distributed by Dark Coast and will be available in digital platforms on March 17, 2020.

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