Did you know that ‘Dune’ features a Filipino martial arts scene?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you may have heard that an epic sci-fi film entitled Dune is showing all over the world. The ‘once-in-a-generation’ flick has just been given the green light for a sequel, but did you know that the movie has a Filipino martial arts scene?


Dune director Denis Villeneuve revealed to The New York Times that an action scene between Timothée Chalamet and Josh Brolin borrows from the martial art technique Balintawak Eskrima, also known as Balintawak Arnis. How cool, right?

In The New York Times feature called Anatomy of a Scene, Villeneuve explained in detail the sparring scene between characters Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin) and Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) with Villeneuve explaining that “each opponent is trying to distract his adversary by doing very fast moves in order to create an opportunity to insert slowly a blade inside the opponent’s shield.”

Crediting fight coordinator Roger Yuan for designing the choreography, Villeneuve said: “He developed the Atreides fighting style borrowing from a martial art technique developed in the ’50s. This technique was called balintawak eskrima. It’s a style that involves blocking the opponent’s attack with both a weapon and the free hand,” Villeneuve explained.

What is this fighting technique anyway? Well, balintawak eskrima was created by Grandmaster Venancio “Anciong” Bacon in the 1950s to enhance and preserve the combative nature of arnis, also known as Kali or Eskrima/Escrima, the national martial art of the Philippines.


Dune isn’t the first Hollywood film to feature some arnis action. Other action flicks such as Mission: Impossible III, the Bourne series, Kick-Ass, The Old Guard, and Raya and the Last Dragon used arnis as well. 

And guess what? You can watch Dune in cinemas this November! The blockbuster flick will be the first major theatric release in the Philippines since the pandemic started.

Art Daniella Sison

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