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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 01.23.18] action adventure

Casper Van Dien is keeping busy. With an average of five movies a year accompanied by a number of TV appearances, it's safe to say that Van Dien is one of the hardest working actors in the business and he lends his experience to any number of fledgling productions.

One such project making its debut on digital and VOD today is Showdown in Manila from first time director Mark Dacascos. The project, a co-production between Russian and the Philippines, stars Van Dien and Russian action star Alexander Nevsky as private detectives living and working in Manila.

While working on a murder investigation, the pair find themselves in the middle of a terrorist plot and not trusting the local police, they assemble a team of their own to take down the terrorist known as The Wrath.

I had the chance to pose a few questions to Van Dien who brings his A-game to every project. He was gracious enough to speak with us again, giving us some insight into working with Nevsky, first time director Dacascos and a few of the projects he has coming out later this year.

Over the years you've played a wide variety of roles. What do you look for in the projects that you make and what attracted you to this one?

Well I was attracted to this role because my friend Marc Dacascos was directing it. He introduced to Alexander Nevsky. They said they wanted to do a film for me and Craig Hamann wrote this for me and that I was perfect for it. When I read it I went “What was he talking about?” I thought this was interesting to see how your friends see you. I still wanted to do it anyhow because I wanted to pay my respects to Marc who was also my muay thai martial arts instructor at that time too but he has been a friend of mine for 25 years.

Any special challenges/great experiences from working in Manila?

I love working in Manila and it was great to go back there. I had shot a film there with Sidney J Furie and Kenny Johnson was on "The Shield" and now on "SWAT." He and I are really good friends. We worked on Going Back which was later changed to Under Heavy Fire. I saw some of the same people that I worked on the film like the makeup artist. Her name is Theresa. This was like 15-16 years later. It was awesome.

There were a couple of actors that I worked with. It was really nice to be back there. I really love the Mercedes that I get to drive. I love going to a couple of different locations. We were in the fish market and that was a little bit smelly during the hot summery season. It was a little bit much. I still love the look of it. I love the feel of it. Manila is a wonderful place. The people are just so friendly.

You and your onscreen team - particularly Nevsky - have a really great chemistry. How did you all achieve that? Did it come naturally or was there a lot of preparation to get to that point where it seems effortless?

Alexander Nevsky and I really hit it off. He is a big star over in Russia. He is a big action star. There are not many people large like him in life. He is so muscular and so huge. It was fun for him, he is also the producer. He knows how to make a production go.

He and I seemed to work really well. It was fun to go off and play with him on that. I really loved it. He's a very talented actor. He is underrated.

This was Marc Dacascos debut behind the camera. You've worked with some of most respected directors over the course of your career. Did you have any tips for your rookie director?

Marc is a really experienced in the film making and being in front of the camera. He has done so many things such as cooking shows, acting in different series, films and movies. He speaks so many different languages. He is a martial arts master and champion. He is somebody who knows how to handle a lot of things. I told him to have fun because I knew he would be prepared. I knew he would know what he was talking about. I knew he would know how to do everything. He is super talent and I just told him to have fun and he always does anyhow. It was something it wouldn't be difficult for him to do.

You have a number of projects coming out this year. I'm curious which one you're most excited for us to see and why?

I have a couple of projects that I am really excited to see. I have Alita: Battle Angel and worked with Robert Rodriguez. He is amazing and I had so much fun with him. I can't really say much about it so that I'll really excited about that one.

I am also excited for Sunset Glory: Doolittle's Heroes which I filmed in January. I am going back to China to film the rest of it in March. Another one, I work with my fiancee [Jennifer Wenger] on Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf or Alpha Wolf, not sure which one they're going to do and with Patrick Muldoon. I have a couple of projects to so I have a lot of things going on and I'm really excited about that.

Finally, you've done a bit of directing over the last few years, are you interested in continuing in that capacity? Are you working on anything at the moment?

I am not currently working on something. I have a couple of irons in the fire and I want see where they go. I am excited about directing. I love it. I have so much fun doing it. I hope I get to do it again.
I plan on doing it again. It takes a lot of your time and is well worth it. I'm excited about what the future holds. I would love to do action movie. I'd love to do a piece that is more personal too.

Showdown in Manila is available on VOD and digital HD January 23.

Recommended Release: Showdown in Manila

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