Dubai: After three years in the making, the first Emirati action film will hit the cinemas next month with a promise to keep the audience thrilled for 90 minutes.
For decades, Emirati films have come out in various genres but nobody has taken the risk with an action flick, that is until Adel Al Hallawi, Emirati producer and filmmaker, decided to write, produce and act in Unbeatable Fighter.
The movie tells the story of a heartbroken former martial arts champion who suffers multiple-personality disorder, but when a villain threatens to control his city, he returns back to action and involves in an underground, illegal martial arts tournament.
Al Hallawi, told Gulf News, that his journey to become the UAE’s first martial arts and action actor was inspired by Hollywood stars Clint Eastwood and Sylvester Stallone.
“It is an action movie including different kinds of martial arts. It contains romance, fighting scenes and drama. It is my first major role in cinemas. It is also a challenge as the movie is about a genre which does not exist in the UAE or the GCC. We always have comedy or drama but not action,” said Al Hallawi.
Unbeatable Fighter features eight martial arts champions from the UAE and around the world, from countries like Russia and Japan. Al Hallawi said that the movie scenes and special effects will be on par with Hollywood and Bollywood action movies.
“The champions were surprised when I told them that I will fight with them. They were laughing and asked me if I will fight with them wearing Emirati national dress?,” said Al Hallawi.
Despite all safety measures taken in shooting the scenes, Al Hallawi, 43, still suffered injuries including a cracked rib while recording the movie as he had no stunt double.
“The fighters are well trained and that would make my task easy. However, I received a couple of strong punches and kicks. I’ve been practising MMA since I was a child,” he said.
“I was trained for three months for the film as I was fighting the champions by myself.”
Al Hallawi adds that he even accidentally knocked out one of the fighters in the film with a elbow to the face after his fellow actor ducked left instead of right.
“He was knocked out for 15 minutes,” Al Hallawi said.
The movie, reinforces the concept of sportsmanship, self-development and awareness about the importance of physical fitness.
“The UAE has adopted a comprehensive sports strategy which has the support of our leaders, because sport gives you discipline in attitude soul and body. The movie reflects the culture of the UAE community with the aim of spreading the spirit and values of sport,” said Al Hallawi.
The film’s villains are played by Japanese martial artist Ryo Sakai, Mohammad Al Shebli, head of the UAE national boxing team, Mestre Caxias, a capoeira champion from Brazil, Khanatip “Ya” Champa, a Muay Thai fighter from Thailand and Sami Al Nuaman, a wrestler from Syria.
Omar Al Mesmari, an Emirati jiu-jitsu fighter who is playing a villain role in the movie told Gulf News, that the movie sends a message to teenagers not to misuse martial arts skills and to adopt good sportsmanship.
“Even if you are good in martial arts, you should control yourself and not get involved in fights. The movie encourages self-respect and self-control,” Al Mesmari said.
According to the actor, the movie will highlight some of the dangers faced by young people using the internet too.
Al Mesmari, said that it was a new experience for him after being a jiu-jitsu fighter for the UAE team for five years.
“I play a villain who specialises in jiu-jitsu,” he said. “I wasn’t nervous as I have practiced this sport for years, but the challenge was to be a villain. My friends were surprised when I told them that I will be starring in the movie, but the director encouraged me well. I’m lucky to have my first role with Al Hallawi. I hope I can be in another movie,” Al Mesmari added.
Meanwhile, British actor Christina Andra Blunsum, said she enjoyed filming with the Emirati crew.
“I’m so happy to be part of the movie and had such an amazing time filming in Abu Dhabi. It was a joy to work with Al Hallawi and the rest of the team. Some scenes we did were crazy, you have to see it to believe it,” she added.
Qais Harib Al Maskari, executive producer of Art Hub said that the movie’s budget was US$300,000 (Dh1.1 million), and about 100 crew members from 23 nationalities, worked for more than a year to shoot all the scenes.
“It is a very nice and attractive movie for UAE and GCC cinemas,” he said. “The movie has many fighters in different kinds of martial arts. It rated as PG13 so all family members can enjoy watching it when they go to the cinemas on October 3.”