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Featured DVD Review: Clash

August 7th, 2011

Clash - Buy from Amazon

Clash, or as it was known in its native Vietnam, Bay Rong, was a monster hit in its native market. On the other hand, when it opened in limited release here, it failed to hit the Mendoza Line by a considerable margin. It finished with less than $30,000, which would have been a disappointing opening weekend, given its theater count. That said, the film is not exactly the typical art house release and perhaps it is poised for much greater success on the home market.

The Movie

Ngo Thanh Van plays Trinh, who goes by the codename Phoenix. She has been "hired" as a mercenary by Hac Long (Hoang Phuc Nguyen), a crime lord who kiddnapped Trinh's daughter. She will only get her back if she completes a series of tasks and she's only got one more left: steal a laptop that has the codes to control a Vietnamese Satellite. To help her in this mission, Trinh has hired a group of mercenaries led by Quan, a.k.a., Tiger. The others are Hawk (the driver); Snake (the weapons expert); and Ox, (the comic relief). Their first stage of the mission goes poorly, when Snake is recognized by an arms dealer. However, there's no chance Trinh will give up on her only shot to see her daughter again, so they push forward with the heist.

There are several attempts to grab the laptop with plenty of fights with bullets and fists flying, a few car chases, plus a few secrets revealed, but they are definitely in spoiler territory.

So how is Clash? Surprisingly good, and I was expecting a better than average Asian action film. The time between action scenes is a little long, and the dramatic moments of the movie are not nearly as strong as the action scenes, but that's the only real complaint I have. Even the romantic angle is strong enough to be an asset, as the two leads have good chemistry together. (They were also in The Rebel together, which I previously reviewed.)

As for the action scenes, they are plentiful enough and extremely well done with a good mix of gunplay, martial arts, and chase scenes, so they never seem repetitive. Also, the fighting style is not the usual one seen in movies with a lot more grappling than acrobatic moves. (That's not to say there are none of those, but they are not as heavily emphasized.) Both Ngo Thanh Van and Jonny Tri Nguyen are exceptionally athletic fighters and there is a air of realism around the action, for the most part.

On a side note, cars doors are not bullet proof, and neither are coffee tables or couches. It bugs me when people hide behind common items like they will stop bullets. However, it is such a common error, I don't hold it against the filmmakers when they repeat it. I just accept the fact that movie physics is different than it is in the real world.

The Extras

Extras start with an elven-minute interview featurette with the two stars. Cast of Characters is a five-minute featurette with the cast talking about their characters. Anatomy of a Fight is a six-minute featurette on the process gone through to make the fight scenes from choosing what styles of martial arts to use, to training, to choreography, etc. It ends with a really cool split-screen look at the rehearsal footage compared to the final film. Finally, there's a music video for "Little Wings" by Tiec.

The Verdict

The number of martial arts movies released every year is astounding. (Especially if you consider "Gun Fu" as a form of martial arts.) There are so many released, that even good movies can be lost in the crowd. Hopefully that won't happen to Clash once it hits the home market. It really is worth checking out and the DVD is easily worth picking up.

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Filed under: Video Review, Bay Rong