Rhen Escaño makes action debut in ‘Karma’

Charmie Joy Pagulong - The Philippine Star
Rhen Escaño makes action debut in �Karma�
Rhen Escaño recalls questioning her motives while filming the tough fight scenes for her role as assassin in ‘Karma’: ‘Bakit nga ba? Ganda-gandahan na lang ba ko forever? Pa-tweetums, pa-sexy na lang ba ko forever? I can do this!’ The revenge-themed action film will be screened in cinemas nationwide starting June 19.

MANILA, Philippines — Portraying the role of an ace assassin in the revenge-action film, “Karma,” has tested Rhen Escaño’s mettle and patience.

She plays Angel, who is forever scarred by her father’s murder. She grew up trying to protect those who are being oppressed after she witnessed her father’s death when she was eight years old.

Angel became part of her godfather’s covert assassin organization later. Disturbing revelations unfold about her godfather, the true nature of their organization, and the truth behind her father’s death.

Albert Langitan helmed the action-packed movie, produced by Viva Films and Happy Infinite. It opens on June 19 in cinemas nationwide.

At the mediacon of the film, direk Albert shared how Rhen cried several times because of the intense fight scenes. “When you look at Rhen, kayang-kaya niya but in real life, she always has this doubt like, ‘Direk, can I do it? It’s my first time to do action.’”

The director added that when they filmed in Baguio that involved hand combat, Rhen shed tears a couple of times. “She said, ‘Direk, I can’t do it. Blah, blah.’ And then, (I told her), ‘You can do it. You’ve already done the earlier scenes.’ But when she did (them), when you see the film, (you will say), Rhen is really good.

“Maybe her self-doubt was reinforced by her capability. Anyway, kaya ni Rhen and she is a great action star.”

Rhen said she accepted the offer, despite the heavy action scenes, because she wanted the people to recognize her acting flair.

“To be honest, I want to be noticed by everyone,” she laughed.

“Gusto ko pong mapansin that’s why I accepted this project,” she reiterated.

“It’s very tough. You’ve already seen me in my previous projects (but) you haven’t seen me doing this kind of project before.”

Rhen has done the sexy-genre movies, such as, “Adan,” “Paraluman,” and “Secrets of a Nympho”; horror flicks with “Rooftop” and “Marita”; and the action-dramas “FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano” and “Lumuhod Ka Sa Lupa.”

When direk Albert and assistant director Zyro Radoc called her up to pitch the film and the storyline, Rhen said her heart skipped a beat. “I got nervous. And I know myself too well, once I feel nervous and scared, the more na feeling ko hindi ko kaya, all the more that I will do it.”

“I really liked it when people would doubt me. Yung parang nakikita nila na hindi niya kaya yan. The more that I feel na mas gagawin ko siya. I’m hard-headed.”

She, nonetheless, was able to pull off the difficult stunts and was grateful that she had the opportunity to work with Sid Lucero, Roi Vinzon, Krista Miller, Paolo Paraiso, Leandro Baldemor, and Mon Confiado. She felt blessed to be given such a project by direk Albert, Viva Films and Happy Infinite.

She further shared that there was a particular gun fight scene with Roi and Krista that she found very challenging.

“It was very heavy and nakailang shooting days na rin kami. I felt exhausted… and the weather in Baguio was cold. So naghalo-halo na. Ang pinaka-grabe at that time I felt pressured in the following fight scene.”

It was a complicated scene that she thought she couldn’t execute. “I was holding a gun. Ramdam ko yung pagod. My arms were aching because hindi ko kasi pwede ibaba. Ngalay na ngalay na and it was painful.”

She cried at this point. Direk Albert told her not to let go and that she can do it. “Antagal. Until I let go. Then I said to direk, ‘Ayoko na, I can’t do it. I want to go home.’”

“Direk Albert said, ‘Why are you here? What are you doing here? Sa tingin mo ba hindi ikaw ang pilipiliin namin kung hindi mo kaya?’”

Then she questioned herself, “Bakit nga ba? Ganda-gandahan na lang ba ko forever? Pa-tweetums, pa-sexy na lang ba ko forever? I can do this!’”

A “magical” thing has happened to Rhen after that. “Magic. Sobrang magical nung sinabi ni direk like, ‘You can’t do it? Why are you here?’ Nagtuloy-tuloy po siya and the rest is history.”

She, herself, couldn’t believe how she was able to carry out those tough scenes. “The simple fact that I didn’t give up, dun sa pinaka-edge na ayoko na, that was the magical part.”

So is she still open to doing action in the future after her “Karma” experience?

“While I was doing this (‘Karma’), I said I will never do it again… Ayoko na talaga. But when we finished filming, actually, while we were still in the process (of filming), I said, ‘Sana masundan agad ‘to.’

“I hope that they will still give me this kind of film genre because it’s a different kind of fulfillment. It’s a different feeling because I know na hindi ko siya kaya but I’ve done it. As an actor, iba yung mabibigay sayo ng mga ganung moment sa buhay.”

Following that arduous shoot experience, Rhen already considered herself as an actor. “Ayokong i-consider sarili kong artist na talagang aktor. But after that moment, I think yes, I am an actor. It’s real,” she concluded.

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