POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, February 12, 2012 Share
Following in the same footsteps as Hong Kong Action cinema, other Asian countries are starting to produce quality martial arts movies. Tony Jaa stunned the world with Ong Bak in 2003 with Muay Thai boxing. Now Johnny Nguyen is putting Vietnam action on the map with Clash. Johnny appeared as the villain and fought against Tony Jaa in The Protector, aka Tom Yum Goong. He worked with Jet Li in Cradle 2 the Grave and he was the stunt double in Sam Raimi’s Spiderman trilogy. Movie lovers have seen Bruce Lee’s cinematic Jeet Kune Do, Jackie Chan’s kung fu comedy, and Tony Jaa’s Muay Thai but Johnny has something new to offer with Vovinam. The National Martial Art of Vietnam is Vovinam and it is a combination of strikes and grappling moves, and kicking techniques along with various weapons such as an axe and even a folding fan. Nguyen combines this style with Tae Kwon Do to give movie goers a new twist. Action fans should take note.
Clash starts out with Viet Pop singer Ngo Thanh Van, who plays Phoenix. A ruthless villain called Black Dragon has kidnapped Phoenix’s daughter and she is forced to work for gangsters. She is tough and pulls no punches and is willing to shoot anyone dead to get her daughter back. Phoenix recruits a few local thugs, including Tiger, played by Johnny Nguyen. The crew tries to buy weapons from some shady characters and things go horribly wrong. The bullets start flying and fighting breaks out resulting in chaos. Following this botched mission, Phoenix is severely reprimanded by Black Dragon and she must try harder.
One of the best scenes in Clash is when the gang breaks into a hideout where French mercenaries have a laptop that is worth millions because it controls satellites. The French fight with a savage kicking style called Savate and it is interesting to see it go up against Tae Kwon Do kicks and Vovinam takedowns. Phoenix proves she can kick butt just as good as the guys and that she can take a beating when she is thrown into a glass table. That scene is straight out of Hong Kong action and reminded me of Jackie Chan’s stunt work in Police Story. Tiger is also in top form with arm locks, wrestling moves, and high flying kicks. Together they both teach French strongmen a lesson in combat.
Clash has quality acting, especially in the intense scenes between Phoenix and Black Dragon arguing about getting her daughter back. The only problem is that nothing works out for any of the characters. The ending is downbeat. There is no hope after all. This is being true to the characters involved but after so much suffering there should be something uplifting in the grand finale that just doesn’t happen. However, Clash does has a larger budget than most low budgets martial arts movies, good acting, an engaging story, and after all the guns run out of bullets, excellent fight scenes. Plus the coolest thing to happen to action movies in a long time, Johnny Nguyen who will be one to watch. Give Clash a look the next time you want a little action.
4 out of 5 Stars
"The Asian Aperture" is ©2012 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2012 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.
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