Greetings folks! It has been a while since we had a new film from DarkCoast to review but when this one came across my email, I knew I had to bring it to your attention. I have really come to love the variety of horror films DarkCoast has been releasing these past few years and their parent company’s (TriCoast Films) attempts to bring more Asian cinema to American audiences. Today’s film manages to blend the two in a very fun B-Horror/Action film known as Blood Hunters: Rise of the Hybrids.
Decades prior an alien species known as The Aswang, arrived on Earth and began their destructive hunt for humans. Before long the first hybrid was formed when it was discovered that Aswang blood could revive the dead in a changed demonic form.
Gabriella and Bolo have been hunting the Aswan Hybrid known as Naga for much of their adult lives, now teamed with a group known as The Blood Hunters, they each find a chance for revenge and redemption.
When I first hit play on this film I was not sure what it was that I had stepped into. Having mostly a European background myself, I found much of the mythos familiar but just different enough that it called for a deeper research into the subject. While the film is a fun B-action Horror with loads of martial arts and creature goodness, there are certain aspects of the film that continued to allude me throughout. One example, is that there is a significant lack of guns for a mercenary group which actually makes a ton of sense when you dig into the cultural aspects of the Aswang. You see, in Filipino myth, the Aswang are very strong against projectile weapons. Much like that of the Western Werewolf or Vampire, basic guns have little to no effect on them. That, however, can not be said of Knives, Bolos and the like and so this film fully embraces the use of martial weapons combined with some pretty stellar fighting styles.
Before watching this film it helps to understand what Aswang are to the Filipino culture. You see, Aswang are essentially a catchall term for evil spirits, particularly the shape-shifting, human hunting kind. This term covers a wide swath of beings , Vampires, ghouls, witches, werewolves and more all with one common goal, to harm others. Having been feared by the people of the Philippians since well before the 16th century, The Aswang has worked their way into key elements of the culture as well, being included in burial rituals, certain customs and even marriage traditions. So, for a story to involve human-Aswang hybrids, this film would be terrifying to anyone raised on these myths and legends. That is where this film really finds it’s footing.
The story itself is a pretty basic one. It is a revenge story with protagonists who is dealing with the deaths of their loved ones in the only way they know how, with their fists. Having been victims of the Aswang themselves, main characters Gabriella and Bolo slash and punch through this film with a ferocity like none other. If there is any doubt in the personal anger and pain directed at these vile creatures, you really are not paying attention. Played by Sarah Chang and Vincent Soberano respectively, these two are nothing but pure energy and are a delight to watch. With a rather impressive supporting cast, I have to say, once you get past some of the rather silly lines and weaker b-movie moments, this film has a lot going for it.
One minor nit with this film is how it starts, viewers are thrust into a story that apparently has been going on for a while and, through no little exposition in the beginning, we get the setup for this film. After discovering that Bloodhunters is essentially a sequel to a short-film by the same director, it all fell into place, but be ready to start off feeling like you missed something. Because you have.
The Bottom Line
Although I was a little lost at first, I found Bloodhunters: Rise of the Hybrids to be a rather enjoyable film that really embraces it’s cultural influences. Directed by Vincent Soberano, who also stars in it, it is clear that this is a personal project that means a lot to him. Even with his low budget, Soberano manages to create an interesting and highly imaginative universe steeped in Filipino Mythology. I not only had a great time with this film but it made me want to learn more about the Aswang and their place in mythology. I really hope to see more from Soberano as he just might be the Filipino answer to Guillermo Del Toro we never knew we needed.
Take one part Buffy the Vampire Slayer, One Part Resident Evil and liberally mix with some killer martial arts and you have Bloodhunters Rise of the Hybrids. This is a bloody, violent action filled film that will certainly satisfy your hunger for a quality B-action horror film. Frankly, I can’t recommend it enough.
You can watch Bloodhunters: Rise of The Hybrids on Amazon, Vimeo on Demand, FlixFling, Vudu, and FANDANGO now from Darkcoast pictures. If you like B-Horror with a solid side of martial arts, this one is for you. Honestly, I hope we get a sequel sooner than later. If we do, you can bet we will have a review here at Late To The Game.
Thanks for reading!
Late To The Game 4/5/2020
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