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Review: THE TRIGONAL: FIGHT FOR JUSTICE (2018)

Remember back when every other week there was a new movie about an underground martial arts tournament? One where there were no rules and everyone fought to the death. Vincent Soberano (Blood Hunters: Rise Of The Hybrids, Circle of Bones) remembers, and he’s channelled those memories into The Trigonal: Fight For Justice, it’s even filmed in the Philippines like so many 80s action films were.

Jacob Casa (Ian Ignacio, Showdown In Manila, Descendants of the Sun) is a champion MMA fighter. That’s soon-to-be former champion, though. He and his wife Annie (Rhian Ramos, Royal Blood, Empty By Design) are about to become parents, and she wants him to give up fighting. He even turns down an invitation from wealthy drug manufacturer Henry Tan (Gus Liem, Girls vs Gangsters, Truth or Dare: 6th Floor Rear Flat) to compete in The Trigonal.

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Tan does not take refusal well. His goons show up at the dojo, they kill Jacob’s best friend and leave Annie in a coma. Jacob, of course, swears revenge. He’ll fight in Tan’s tournament, but only as an excuse to help the cops bust Tan. Which won’t be easy, not only does he have an army of goons, he’s been using them to test a new designer steroid he’s developed.

Now, if this sounds like the Cannon Films version of Enter The Dragon, you’ve got the idea. The plot is minimal and quickly forgotten. It’s so unimportant, The Trigonal: Fight For Justice doesn’t even bother giving us any updates on Annie. She’s left out of the film until literally the final shot.

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But the fights, they matter. The Trigonal: Fight For Justice gives us fights in the dojo, fights in the ring, fights in bars, and fights in the street. Countering Ignacio, we have Paul Allica (Wolf Warrior 2, The Siege of Robin Hood) as James Lowe, Tan’s head fighter, and Christian Vasquez (Suarez: The Healing Priest, Voltes V: Legacy – The Cinematic Experience) as Allen, the goon responsible for hospitalizing Annie. But he has some allies. Action director Sarah Chang (Mon Mon Mon Monsters, Accident Man: Hitman’s Holiday) gets in front of the camera as Mei Li. And director Soberano turns up as Detective Pascual, a graduate of the Harry Callahan Police Academy. Of course, if there are cops, there are going to be shootouts as well.

The final act, of course, is The Trigonal itself. And it’s one nice, long Bloodsport style montage of fights. We get multiple styles of martial arts both bare-handed and with weapons showcased here. The action in the ring is interrupted by scenes of the police storming the building. And that gives us a nice fight between Soberano and veteran Filipino actor/stuntman Levi Ignacio (BuyBust, Ultimate Revenge). And yes, he is Ian’s father.

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Philippines lensed action and horror films were a big part of my viewing habits back in the VHS era. And I’m glad to see them making a comeback now. Films like The Trigonal: Fight for Justice, We Will Not Die Tonight, and Mystery Of The Night make me hopeful Manila will join Jakarta as a hub of contemporary genre filmmaking.

You can check for current viewing options on The Trigonal: Fight for Justice’s Facebook page and website.

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