The Trigonal: Fight for Justice (2018)

Posted in Reviews by - April 24, 2020
The Trigonal: Fight for Justice (2018)

Somewhere in-between the gritty social commentary of Erik Matti and the revenge-driven action of Pedring Lopez, Vincent Soberano now adds his voice to a golden age for Filipino fight films. Like Maria and BuyBust, this has a strong international appeal (filmed in the Philippines but mostly in the English language) with action roots embedded in indigenous art-forms; Filipino stick-fighting, pole forms, blade-work and ground-fighting. The film also stars a wushu ace, Sarah Chang, adding another dimension to the martial arts on display. The story is nothing you haven’t seen before; it concerns an underground, ‘anything-goes’ fight tournament called the Trigonal, promising a million-dollar prize to fighters from around the world. The Trigonal is hosted on the private island of Henry Tan (sound familiar?), a drug-dealing playboy who uses the tournament to sell steroids to baddies. The dishy Ian Ignacio stars as Jacob, an MMA instructor with a baby on the way and money troubles, who is bullied into competing when his wife ends up in a hospital after a visit from Tan’s cronies. “You’re like John Wick, but with more hair,” says Chang, playing Jacob’s platonic kung fu buddy and adding much-needed light relief. There’s another slightly undercooked sub-plot involving a police raid on Tan’s operation, orchestrated by action cop Tony (played by Soberano), which means by the end of the film, there are a multitude of disparate scuffles going on at the same time. The tournament scenes – deliberately salacious and over-the-top – are actually the least convincing parts of the film; its the training sequences and the relationships that really elevate the film from being simply another run-of-the-mill tournament flick. There’s also an authenticity to the action which makes it feel refreshing and alternative.

AKA: Tapado: Fight for Justice.

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Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a keyboard in London, UK.

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