Bound by Debt Movie Poster
The poster for writer-director Anna Mormando’s action film, ‘Bound by Debt,’ which stars Paul Mormando.
Photo courtesy: Wonderphil Entertainment

Title: ‘Bound by Debt’

Director: Anna Mormando

Starring: Paul Mormando, Bobby Ciasulli, Samuel Difiore, Michele Frantzeskos, Nikki Silva and Alexis Mormando

Battling to defend not only their own honor, but also the dignity of their relatives, no matter how strained their relationships are, is a powerful motivator in bringing people closer together. That’s certainly the case for the protagonist in the upcoming action film, ‘Bound By Debt,’ which marks the first leading movie role of champion martial artist, Paul Mormando. The performer’s relatable character powerfully pulls a punch, as the project helps usher the old school action genre back into cinemas, with is use of realistic martial arts and relatable characters.

Wonderphil Entertainment is set to be release ‘Bound By Debt’ next month on VOD and iTunes. The drama also marks the feature film writing and directorial debuts of the martial artist and actor’s wife, Anna Mormando. The duo also served as producers on the movie together.

‘Bound By Debt’ follows Dylan James (Mormando), a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) competitor who fights for the same mob that his gambling brother, Robert (Bobby Ciasulli), is in debt to, but can’t afford to pay back. The underground fighter is estranged from his family, but that changes when he can no longer fulfill his obligations to the Mafia. So Mob Boss Mr. Russo (Samuel DiFiore) decides to use Robert’s gambling addiction and family as leverage against Dylan,to force him to continue participating in the MMA battles that help fund his organization.

Robert is initially hesitant to ask his brother, who he hasn’t had a relationship with in 20 years, for help in relieving his gambling debut. So Robert’s older daughter, Alexis (Nikki Silva), decides to contact her long lost uncle on her own, despite the protests of her father and mother, Kristen (Michele Frantzeskos). After meeting, and forming a relationship, with Alexis and her younger sister, Nicole (Alexis Mormando), the MMA competitor becomes driven to save and protect his brother, no matter what it personally costs him. When Mr. Russo begins using Robert’s wife and their daughters as collateral, the two brothers will have to reunite to save themselves and Robert’s family.

The action sequences in ‘Bound by Debt’ are intriguingly influenced by the real-life champion martial artist’s action idols, including Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris and Jean Claude Van Damme, and the work they have brought to their respective films. The MMA fighters-action stars’ work helped informed the way the husband and wife filmmaking team worked together to craft the realistic battles that Dylan and Robert participate in against Mr. Russo and his henchmen. With Paul’s years of experience as a champion martial artist and film fight choreographer also serving as a powerful motivator, the husband-wife team was able to stunningly rival the ’70s and ’80s martial arts action movies that inspired them.

Paul and Anna also made the smart decision of casting real life martial artists to fill the supporting roles in ‘Bound by Debt.’ That choice allowed the actor to show off his impressive, full-fledged skills as a fighter himself as his character not only defend himself against his opponents in the ring during his boss’ tournaments, but also as Mr. Russo’s men target Robert and and their family.

Not only does the film rightfully feature skilled real life martial artists to engage in the action sequences with Paul as Dylan determinedly fights to protect, his relatives, but the drama also smartly cast the James family with actors who also relatably bring the gripping plot to life. Anna elicited a realistic camaraderie between the performers, particularly Ciasulli, Frantzeskos and Silva. The actors give engaging and memorable performances as a family that realizes it does indeed need the help of their estranged relative Dylan, who ultimately proves his worthiness of being accepted back into their good graces.

‘Bound by Debt’ is stunningly driven by its use of realistic action sequences, gripping performances by the real life martial artists who were cast in the supporting roles and the alluring camaraderie between the main actors, particularly Paul, Ciasulli, Frantzeskos and Silva. The movie, which helps usher the old school action genre back into cinemas, is a captivating and memorable look into the feats that the Mormandos can achieve as a filmmaking duo.

Technical: B+

Acting: B

Story: B

Overall: B

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By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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