Clash (Vietnam 2010)

Rating: ****
Alternate Title: Bay Rong (original Vietnamese title)
Review Date: 2/17/18
Producer: Johnny Nguyen, Veronica Ngo
Writer: Johnny Nguyen
Action Choreography: Johnny Nguyen
Cast: Johnny Nguyen, Veronica Ngo (Thanh Van Ngo)

Trinh (Veronica Ngo) is a highly skilled fighter who works for a cruel and manipulative crime lord known as Black Dragon. She wants out of his organization and he promises to let her go if she completes one last job for him. Naturally, that job goes horribly wrong. She finds support, camaraderie, and companionship in a smart and level-headed ex-con named Quan (Johnny Nguyen), and the two of them make a lethal combination. A series of twists and betrayals makes things hard for Trinh and Quan, which builds to a head when Black Dragon pushes Trinh just a little too far.

Veronica Ngo is AMAZING in this film, and is one of the fiercest female action characters I've seen in a long time. She's a seething cauldron of rage and fury, with a menacing glare that leaves you weak in the knees. Her tough exterior conceals an unbearable amount of pain and despair, and the brief moments of vulnerability that are revealed when she lets down her guard are intensely dramatic and emotional. Johnny Nguyen gives a very good performance as an expert mercenary who has his own pain, shame, and secrets to hide. He's effortlessly cool and moves with the power and grace of a dancer. Along with being a brutal and talented fighter, his character is a conflicted and sensitive soul who exhibits a tenderness that's uncommon for the genre. The chemistry between Ngo and Nguyen is wonderful, and their attraction towards each other feels natural and unforced.

The action scenes are superb, and Nguyen's choreography is incredible. While the hits tend to look a little soft, the movements are fast, fluid, and complex. The camera work and cinematography are excellent and do a great job of capturing all of the action. The story is essentially a remake of "Ronin" (1998), but the writing is smart and the characters feel genuine and well developed. The only things I didn't like about the movie were the soundtrack, the overuse of blue filters, and how much time was spent watching Johnny Nguyen smoking cigarettes. I thought the smoking scenes were obnoxious and a constant distraction. But apart from that, I found "Clash" to be a very satisfying action outing and a fantastic showcase for both Johnny Nguyen and Veronica Ngo.