Some days, you just want to have fun watching a movie, and Blood Hunters: Rise of the Hybrids is one of those fun movies. A martial arts flick by director Vincent Soberano, Blood Hunters: Rise of the Hybrids stars Sarah Chang as Gabriella, an aswang hunter out for revenge, Vincent Soberano himself as one of the aforementioned hybrids (Bolo), and a skilled cast including Mayling Ng (Maya), Mekael Turner (Gundra), Ian Ignacio (Max), Roxanne Barcelo (Kali), and longtime action hero, Monsour Del Rosario (Monte).
Blood Hunters: Rise of the Hybrids begins with a summary of the original short film Blood Hunters, also directed by Soberano, and introduces us to Gabriella Chen, hunting aswang hybrids in the woods. After an unfortunate encounter with the hybrids Naga and Gundra, she wakes up in a camp dedicated to training Blood Hunters, a group devoted to wiping out the hybrids. Blood Hunters in the camp include the optimistic couple of Max and Kali, veteran hunter Monte, and master Ishida (played by accomplished martial artist/actor Levy Ignacio), who teaches the hunters how to take advantage of the hybrids’ weakness to Balaraw metal by way of bladed combat. When Gabriella reveals to the hunters the hybrids’ presence, the decision is made to contact Bolo, another veteran hunter who has resorted to using hybrid blood to keep up with his prey. The hunters then track down and raid the hybrids lair, intent on exacting vengeance for each of their own reasons, only to learn that they have all been manipulated, hunters and hybrids alike.
Admittedly, I had certain expectations coming into this film. I never got to watch the original short film properly, but I remember following the trailers and the media and being excited at the potential for great action after seeing the cast- fast forward a few years later, and my expectations are transferred to Rise of the Hybrids, and, well. It’s okay, I guess?
testament to bad-ass, on-screen and IRL
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the movie on a certain level. As a martial arts movie fan and a local martial arts fan myself, it was really cool to see the likes of the legendary Levy Ignacio strut his stuff on screen with more martial artist/actor names like Monsour del Rosario and Vincent Soberano. (it was fun to see Ian Ignacio doing his thing as well, must run in the family) Adding to the coolness for me were the little cameos by the local martial arts community, with the likes of real-life martial arts grandmasters mang Henry Espera and Vic Sanchez at the Blood Hunters training camp.
Unfortunately, however, for me the film suffers from quite a bit of clumsiness. For every great kickass scene, there’s one right after where the action is obscured by clumsy SFX and while I really try not to let the plot get in the way so much of my enjoyment of a good adrenaline flick, I really feel like the story could have been neatened up just a bit more, so that we could get straight to the aswang ass-kicking, which is definitely the high point of this movie. (Speaking of aswang, I was perpetually taken out of the movie by one of the main characters’ drawling pronunciation of aswang, made worse by the fact that everyone pronounces it just fine. But ehhhh maybe I’m just being mean.)
Little nitpicks and the clunky storytelling aside, Rise of the Hybrids is a fun little flick for those of you looking for some badassery with just a touch of the supernatural. And personally, bonus points for representation of Filipino Martial Arts and Martial Artists onscreen!
Blood Hunters: Rise of the Hybrids is now available on digital platforms such as Amazon, Vimeo on Demand, FlixFling, Vudu, and FANDANGO!