Just for kicks

Published March 4, 2021, 12:19 AM

by Jullie Y. Daza


Jullie Y. Daza

Before cinema houses welcome back fans to the big screen, a local group will be shooting an action picture to kickstart the return of movie watching as a national pastime, where it is best enjoyed. In a darkened, airconditioned theater with a crowd of sympathetic people crying, laughing, screaming together.

According to government regulators, the reopening – soon – of movie theaters under MGCQ will save 300,000 jobs, revive a battered economy, and rescue victims, real and potential, of cabin fever.

People have been missing their favorite stars in their worlds of endless possibilities in fantastic universes; why, they miss even the simple habit of dressing up to go out, buy a ticket, lose oneself in artificially induced moments of emotion, drama, adventure. For fight choreographer Erwin Tagle, his entire body aching to get into the spirit of fight or flight, do or die, day one of shooting on March 23 cannot come too soon for his latest film assignment, Topakk.

In his field, Erwin stands out as an MMA instructor and fight sequence coordinator/director with film credits as long as his battle-toughened arms. How this son of civic worker-concert impresario Elizabeth and painter E.R. Tagle gets his kicks out of jujitsu, karate, and what-have-you, I don’t know. In my daughter’s opinion, it was Erwin who knocked down the walls to start  young ladies on the road to jujitsu, because “before Erwin, jujitsu was seemingly for men only.”

At Metro Walk, his training studio was huge, its floor and walls padded, wrapped in rubber. Movie stars came and went, whether training for self-defense or for a movie. Erwin’s “graduates” include Sam Milby, Eugene Domingo, Liza Soberano, Yassi Pressman, Nadine Lustre, Vice Ganda, and Buboy Villar (playing Manny Pacquiao with his “killer left”).

In the thick of the pandemic, Erwin has moved his school to Katipunan avenue near Ateneo University. Just before the longest lockdown, he was the local stunt director for Almost Paradise, a 10-part TV series produced by ABS-CBN and a US group at a cost of US$55 million.

In the forthcoming Topakk, described as “an action-packed thriller,” Erwin and stuntmen will work with JM de Guzman and Sid Lucero, and director Richard Somes. The tweak? “It’s about  mental health awareness.”