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Triple feat for 'Trigonal'

Saturday, 21 April 2018 00:00 Published in Life Style

Vincent Soberano's love story/action extravaganza enthralls international audiences, wins distribution deal in China and a World Premiere in Cannes

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 last 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 popular Filipino 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." 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.
Soberano also didn't have a hard time choosing Rhian Ramos to play Annie. "Rhian perfectly fit the role of Annie because of her mixed heritage (Rhian is Filipino-British), genuine fluency of the English language, and athleticism. Beyond that, I was quite impressed with her acting skills."
Soberano, a seasoned theater actor himself and the founder/creative director of the San Diego Asian American Repertory Theater (SDAART) in California, points out the importance of standout acting especially in an action film. "The action has to tell a story and a good actor can intensify or downplay the action depends on their portrayal of it," says Soberano. "Fight porn is what I call fighting just for the sake of fighting. I don't like that. There has to be a story behind every action, every kick, every punch."
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.
"Casting the Chinese in a positive light plus upping the quality of filmmaking from cinematography to storytelling are keys to my success in penetrating the world's biggest film market, worth billions of dollars," adds Soberano. The first quarter of 2018 saw Chinese domestic box-office grossing at USD $3.4 Billion, breaking all world records and officially beating Hollywood as now the #1 movie market in the world.
The amazing feat of The Trigonal is proof once more of how talented 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."
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.
All this comes back to what Soberano dreams of the most - helping raise the bar in Filipino martial arts and action films for the international market. "I'm just getting started with The Trigonal," he says. "I have a string of movies following right after. It will be a new era for action films!"

Embiid shines in playoff debut, Blazers on the brink

Saturday, 21 April 2018 00:00 Published in Sports



Joel Embiid scored 23 points in his postseason debut as the Philadelphia 76ers crushed the Miami Heat 128-108 to grab a 2-1 lead in their first round playoff series.
Embiid, who wore a mask to protect a broken bone in his face, returned from a 10-game absence and helped seal the victory by scoring seven straight points for the Sixers down the stretch.
Dario Saric and Marco Belinelli combined to score 42 points while Ben Simmons finished with 19 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists for Philadelphia in front of a crowd of 19,800 at Miami's American Airlines Arena.
"It was annoying," Embiid said of the black carbon fibre mask. "But that was the only way I could play in this game, if I wore the mask and protected my face with goggles. I had to work through it and I did."
Game four of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series is Saturday in Miami.
Embiid wasn't even supposed to play Thursday. Many thought he would be out of the lineup longer due to the severity of the injury. He had to get a doctor's clearance from the team and league approval for the mask and goggle combination that sometimes slipped off his face.
"I am just so proud of what he did," said Philadelphia coach Brett Brown.
The 76ers won for the 18th time in their last 19 games and reclaimed home-court advantage in the series.
Goran Dragic scored 23 points, Justise Winslow had 19 and Josh Richardson scored 14 in the loss.
In New Orleans, Nikola Mirotic scored a career playoff-best 30 points and the Pelicans beat the Portland Trail Blazers 119-102 to take a stranglehold 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven series.
"I never thought I'd score 30 or something like that," Mirotic said. "I'm just trying to play simple. If I have a shot, take a shot, so I need to give credit to my teammates."
Anthony Davis had 28 points and 11 rebounds for New Orleans, who are hoping to reach the second round of the postseason for the first time since 2008.
They can achieve that goal with a win in game four on Saturday.
Mirotic, acquired in a midseason trade after DeMarcus Cousins' season-ending injury, made 12 of 15 shots. He drained three-pointers, finished off fast-break layups and made clutch dunks.
Damian Lillard led Portland with 20 points but also missed nine of 14 shots. CJ McCollum scored 22 and Al-Farouq Aminu added 21 in the loss.


Armstrong in settlement for US fraud case

Saturday, 21 April 2018 00:00 Published in Sports


Lance Armstrong has agreed to pay $5 million in order to settle the looming federal fraud case stemming from his drug-fuelled reign as king of the Tour de France, it was confirmed on Thursday.
The former cycling superstar was due to face a trial next month over claims he defrauded the US government when he doped while racing for his United States Postal Service-sponsored team.
The Postal Service and former team-mate Floyd Landis had sought around $100 million in damages from Armstrong in the case, which was due to get under way on May 7.
However the prospect of a potentially ruinous judgement going against the cancer survivor was averted after Armstrong's lawyers and the US Justice Department brokered a settlement.
"No one is above the law," US Justice Department lawyer Chad Readler said in a statement announcing the deal. "This settlement demonstrates that those who cheat the government will be held accountable."
Armstrong's attorney Elliot Peters said in a statement the settlement "ends all litigation against Armstrong related to his 2013 admission that during his career as a professional cyclist he had used performance enhancing substances."
The Washington Post reported Armstrong will also pay $1.65 million to cover the legal costs of former team-mate and whistleblower Landis. A further $1.1 million of the $5 million amount will go to Landis.
"I am glad to resolve this case and move forward with my life," Armstrong, 46, said in a statement.
"I'm looking forward to devoting myself to the many great things in my life – my five kids, my wife, my podcast, several exciting writing and film projects, my work as a cancer survivor, and my passion for sports and competition. There is a lot to look forward to."







Life Style




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