By Ferry Bayon, AsAmNews Intern
A new film produced by boxing legend Manny Pacquiao attacks anti-Asian hate head-on.
Almighty Zeus is the brainchild of lead actor Chris Soriano who wrote, directed, and produced the film to raise awareness about Asian American racism and showcase unity through boxing. Pacquiao served as executive producer.
“I wanted to make this film because I saw these hate crimes happening to the older Asian community. I was frustrated on why that was happening to older Asians who couldn’t defend themselves,” Soriano said in an interview with AsAmNews.
The film’s premise is about a young boxer who witnessed a racially-motivated attack on an older Asian gentleman. Soriano’s character, Zeus Ortega, steps in and goes viral for knocking out the aggressor.
According to Soriano, he wrote the film’s screenplay in less than a week, with the creation of the whole movie – from pre-production to editing – only taking 90 days.
He said he felt stressed because of the time constraint, but the experience was worthwhile.
Soriano highlighted the hard work and cooperation, or the Filipino concept of “bayanihan” as the reason everything fell into place.
“It was so stressful because making something that you’ve never done in such a rushed experience would probably lead to mistakes,” Soriano said.
“But for us, a lot of people were willing to help. Many people who had experience guided and supported me throughout the process, so everything fell into place, and we were able to do it and finish the film.”
Soriano said it was essential to showcase Filipino elements throughout the film because representation matters.
“One of the main factors, why I wanted to make the movie, was to incorporate our culture because I haven’t seen it enough in movies,” Soriano said.
“If we are in movies, it’s cameos or something so brief, so incorporating Filipino culture in the movie is my way of saying that I am a proud Filipino American,” he added.
As one of the most famous Filipino faces worldwide, Soriano had long admired Pacquiao. With the former Philippine senator’s outspoken stance against Asian hate crimes in the United States, Soriano sought Pacquiao to be part of the film.
Speaking with CBS Los Angeles, Pacquiao said that it had been an honor to be an executive producer of Almighty Zeus.
“I hope this movie will encourage and inspire people, not only in America but all over the world,” Pacquiao said. “We should spread love instead of fighting each other.”
For Soriano, Almighty Zeus is not just another boxing movie to be compared to the likes of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky and Creed franchises.
“What makes Almighty Zeus different is that it puts Asians at the forefront of a story that deals with hate crimes. It shows how they work together to solve this issue and raise awareness about it through the sport of boxing,” Soriano said.
As the co-founder of Matthew 25:14 LLC, a production company dedicated to empowering minorities across the country, Soriano hopes the film’s message will start a conversation and make a difference in the industry.
“Almighty Zeus is a story that highlights Asian Americans, especially dealing with racism, and how we can work together with other races through conversations that could affect all of us,” Soriano said.
Soriano is currently working on The Master Chief, a film about the “Filipino Mafia” in the Navy.
“I wanted to recreate the story of how Filipinos in the Navy experienced bullying and racism and how they rise in the ranks of power within their work in the Navy,” Soriano said.
Production for The Master Chief will begin on Jan. 25. Soriano hopes to release the film on July 4, 2023.
AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Please take advantage of a $30,000 matching grant challenge. An anonymous donor has offered to match dollar for dollar every tax-deductible donation made to Asian American Media Inc from November 1, 2023 until the end of the year. The money will be used to fund the addition of a new reporter and to produce content for limited English-speaking Asian immigrants. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.