‘Asero’ lead actor also fight director

MANILA, Philippines—Richard Gutierrez, lead star of GMA 7’s newest action-adventure series “Codename: Asero,” is also its fight director.

To prepare for the show, Richard has trained in Tapondo, a Filipino version of the Japanese Aikido, according to program manager Redgie Magno.

The 24-year-old actor, a brown belter in karate, is likewise knowledgeable in kickboxing, muay thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and arnis.

“Richard does his own fight routines now. He went into training to research on new ideas for his scenes,” Magno told Inquirer Entertainment. “It was Brandon Vera who introduced the sport (Tapondo) to him.”

Vera, the mix martial arts specialist and the first and only Filipino in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) tournament, has trained Richard in muay thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu for the soap series “Kamandag,” which also aired on GMA 7.

A cyborg

In “Asero,” Richard plays Grecko Abesamis, an agent of the elite anti-crime network The Advocate. He figures in a lethal accident and ends up as a cyborg. While out on a mission in Dubai, Grecko meets Emily San Juan (Heart Evangelista), a belly dancer.

“Heart provides the drama in the show. Her character is very complex,” said Magno.

According to Magno, the “Asero” crew shot for eight days in Dubai in May. Preparations for the taping there began as early as January.

“We’ve tied-up with representatives of the Dubai Media City who helped us secure permits and provided us with cab service, security and even porta-homes for the whole crew,” Magno added.

GMA 7 has given viewers glimpses of Thailand and China through the action-adventure series “Asian Treasures,” and Malaysia in the drama show “Muli.”

Mark A. Reyes (“Encantadia,” “Kamandag”) co-directs “Asero” with Mike Tuviera (“Captain Barbel,” “Lupin”). “But Mark and Richard had been throwing all sorts of ideas for a new show while they were still doing ‘Kamandag’,” said Magno. “They work well together. Their ideas jibe. They’ve also become very good friends.” Mark and Richard first collaborated in the movie version of “Mulawin” in 2005.

“Codename: Asero” premieres on July 14, replacing Joaquin Bordado. Also featured in the show are Richard Gomez, Janno Gibbs, Michael V, Ehra Madrigal, Caridad Sanchez, Ramon Christopher, Rhian Ramos and Francine Prieto.