Review: BLOOD HUNTERS: RISE OF THE HYBRIDS (2019)

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When I was first offered a screener of Blood Hunters: Rise Of The Hybrids I thought The Blood Hunter had finally gotten a release. Instead, it’s a new film from writer/director/star Vincent Soberano who’s film The Trigonal: Fight For Justice we recently reviewed.

Aswang are a breed of vampire found in the Philippines. Blood Hunters: Rise Of The Hybrids’ prologue uses both comic book art and footage of the original Blood Hunter short to explain how the country came to be plagued by human/aswang hybrids.

Gabriela (Sarah Chang, Bleeding Steel) is an aswang hunter. It’s become personal for her since Naga (Temujin Shirzada) killed her husband and son. Narrowly escaping meeting her own death she’s rescued by Max (Ian Ignacio, BuyBust) and Kali (Roxanne Barcelo, Tragic Theater) members of a group of aswang hunters called The Slayers.

Their leader Monte (Monsour Del Rosario) has sent for Bolo (Vincent Soberano). Like Gabriela, he lost his family to an aswang, Gundra (Mekael Turner, My War). However, his quest for revenge has driven him to inject himself with aswang blood and become a hybrid as well. They’re going to attack the creatures in their lair. But the presence of the aswang Queen Maya (Mayling Ng, Suicide Squad) isn’t the only surprise that awaits them.

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Blood Hunters: Rise Of The Hybrids is very much a comic book movie, complete with comic panels used to transition between scenes. It feels like it wants to be a lower budget Blade, with Bolo as the hybrid equivalent of Wesley Snipes daywalker.

And for its budget, it certainly delivers the action. There’s plenty of barehanded fighting and a fair amount of knife play as well. If you’ve seen The Trigonal then you’ll have a good idea what to expect here. Especially as the two films share several cast members.

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The plot, however, leaves a bit to be desired. There’s a few too many unrelated scenes of the aswang taking victims that needed to be better integrated into the main plot. They feel like padding, something a 70-minute film shouldn’t need. That and the CGI blood splatter are my only real issues with Blood Hunters: Rise Of The Hybrids though.

Blood Hunters: Rise Of The Hybrids ends with a setup for a sequel. With some tighter scripting and practical blood, it could be an enjoyable franchise. Especially if they add in a few more of the odd creatures from Filipino folklore.

TriCoast will release Blood Hunters: Rise Of The Hybrids through its Dark Coast label on March 17th. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more details.

Jim Morazzini

Movie buff, gym rat and crazy cat guy

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