Filipino Actors Who Starred in International Martial Arts Flicks

With my love for martial arts films, I wonder if there will be a time when our film industry is able to produce such decent flicks. I always believe that with the right director and action choreographer combined with proper training for the cast, it’s possible, at least for the fight scene department. For the past movies and series though, there are Filipino actors who made their way through the martial arts film scene either as a protagonist or an enemy against a legendary action star. Here are some of them.

Ernie Reyes Jr.

He’s a son of a Filipino actor and stuntman Efren Reyes Sr., so it runs in their blood. Starred in the martial arts comedy film Surf Ninjas, he plays the role of Johnny, one of the sons from a monarch family. If you were a fan of Million-Dollar Movies in channel 2 during the early 90’s (ugh, another age indicator), you probably watched this movie about a couple of times. The fight scenes were okay, but I think Efren’s skills here have not been fully utilized. He also played as Keno in the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film.  Well, if the mentioned films were too old for you, maybe Dwayne Johnson’s The Rundown will somehow ring a bell. Remember the scene when Dwayne encountered what seemed to be some group of hunters, the character with the name of Manito was played by Efren. Their fight scene was quite impressive and given the size difference, Efren knows how to keep up with a huge man through sheer agility.

Paolo Montalban

Well, this actor is not originally an action star but an actor and a singer. Yup. He actually starred as Prince Christopher in the early film adaptation of Cinderella co-starring with singer Brandy. However, by any chance that you watched Mortal Kombat Conquest in channel 23, you’ll recognize him as Kung Lao, the protagonist of the series. The choreography was decent, but as the fan of the franchise, I can say that the show wasn’t that loyal to its roots, ditching the character’s abilities and fighting styles when they presented it. I have to commend Paolo though, given that he’s not that immersed in the action genre, he fairly performed the fight scenes well. He must have gone through some proper training. Here’s a sample of what he can do.

Dan Inosanto

More than an actor, he’s a martial arts master of various disciplines, including Eskrima, Silat, and Jeet Kune Do. He was actually one of the few who was authorized by Bruce Lee to teach his martial art. According to the documentary film, I Am Bruce Lee, he taught Lee how to use the nunchaku, Bruce Lee’s iconic weapon.  The most memorable role that Dan portrayed was in Lee’s unfinished film, Game Of Death. There, the two showcased their skills in handling the nunchucks. To be honest, the pace is considered subpar compared to modern martial art movies, but it was due to technical limitations at that time. Lee’s movements were too fast, it can’t be captured by the camera, so they had to adjust. Who would’ve thought that this legendary master will go toe to toe with a Filipino martial artist in a film? Dan continued to teach in different parts of the globe and a known promoter of the Filipino Martial Arts, including Arnis which Bruce Lee displayed in his Hollywood film, Enter the Dragon.

I hope more Filipino actors and actresses will get included in the future martial arts films. With the fair support of the different martial arts communities in our country, we have a lot of capable talents who can do a great job of executing a good fighting scene. Do you know any other Filipinos who were also featured in a martial arts flick? Let me know in the comments below. (~^_^)~

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