Finally! My third night working the festival and I closed out working my shift by seeing the last film of the night, Clash (or Bay Rong as it is originally titled in Vietnam). Having read the basic synopsis written by the festival, I was pretty sure I was in for a decent Vietnamese action flick. What I got was a pretty cool experience.
Basic Plot: Trinh (Veronica Ngo) puts together a team of mercenaries to pull of a snatch and grab job. Of course you have a bunch of diverse personalities on this team, including Quan (Johnny Nguyen), who has a somewhat checkered past. Their target, a laptop computer with sensitive information held by French gangsters. It’s not going to be easy and nothing appears as it seems when you’ve built a team who gets paid to fight.
What I Liked/Found Interesting:
- Great action. Throughout the film the fight sequences were superbly choreographed and shot. It was fast paced and unlike a lot of US action films, you could see what was happening as the camera wasn’t zoomed in super close to the action. The action looked really authentic as well with the actors really looking like they were giving and taking punches. Needless to say the mid air double kicks/punches were crazy.
- Revolvers? Very early in the film when this crack team of mercenaries gets put together the only weapons they have to use are a bunch of six round revolvers. Now ordinarily you’d think that if you’re going up against a bunch of gangsters that you might need a little more firepower than this. While this seemed a little odd (why couldn’t they have automatic weapons?) it didn’t affect the story at all since the team turned a disadvantage into an advantage.
- These guys can take punches. This is sort of relates to my first point about loving the action, but there were times when I literally thought to myself “wow, is this for real? did that guy just take a couple of stabs to his torso and is still fighting?” Also, for the final battle, could the bad guy have taken as much punishment as he did for that amount of time? Whether or not these things could have actually happened or not, it was definitely entertaining.
Overall I had a fun time with this film. It’s definitely comparable to any mid-range US action flick I’ve seen the past couple of years. The story is basic and while there are no big set pieces, the great action sequences more than make up for this.
The Q & A:
Our showing of Clash got out well after midnight so I was actually a little surprised that people stuck around for it. Director Le Thanh Son seemed really down to Earth and showed up to the screening by himself setting up a banner for the film in front of the theater entrance all on his own. You wouldn’t know it from watching the film (or maybe you would if you were a better film viewer than I) but apparently the film was shot very low budget. Great job considering how much it was shot for. Hope you enjoy the post film Q&A.