Tribeca Review: Clash
There are multiple reasons why video games tend to make for bad movies. For one, you are taking a interact-able material and distancing the audience from it. There is also the problem that game play is generally not story related, just getting from point A to point B while the cut scenes fill in the gaps. So what if the opposite took place, where a film was made that was entirely made of action points with only brief moments of actual storytelling to fill the gaps? Well, that is exactly what Le Thanh Son’s Clash is.
Trinh (Thanh Van Ngo) is a mercenary who is being forced to work for the most powerful organized crime syndicate in Vietnam. After the crime boss frees her from a brothel to which she was sold as a slave, her daughter is taken from her and told that she must complete seven missions if she wants to see her child again. Recruiting a group to help her (Johnny Nguyen, Hieu Hien, Hoang Phuc Nguyen, Lam Minh Thang), Trinh works her way through the missions, kicking ass and taking names along the way.
While the film sells itself with its action, both Thanh Van Ngo and Johnny Nguyen being incredible martial artists, the film’s greatest weakness is the invention of the gun. Every fight scene in the film opens with the drawing of arms, the bad guys and good guys taking positions on the opposite sides of a room and firing wildly at each other with accuracy so bad that it would make a stormtrooper blush. It is only after both teams run out of bullets that things actually start getting exciting, with the stars showing off some incredible skills that would be the wet dream of every foley artist in existence.
It would be both unfair and untrue for me to say that the film doesn’t have a plot, but it certainly doesn’t view it as the crux of the film. The characters and their motivations are established and then are essentially put in a Mortal Kombat arena, which is certainly entertaining, but makes for an incomplete film. The audience knows who it is meant to cheer for, and they do, but it feels somewhat like cheating when you do it this easily.
Clash is not a film that is aiming for any type of prestigious honors or awards; it simply exists so that Thanh Van Ngo and Johnny Nguyen can punch a few “Frenchies” in the head. Throw in a couple of indirect references to some awesome movies, including, but not limited to Reservoir Dogs and The Professional, and Clash makes for a fun 100 minutes spent in a dark theater.
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