Streaming Sleepers: CLASH, Vietnamese Martial Arts Action Not To Be Forgotten
With Charlie Nguyen’s The Rebel lending a face and renewed movement in Vietnam action cinema following the successes of Tony Jaa, Jet Li, and Jackie Chan in the decade prior, martial arts fans found themselves a new hero or two with Johnny Tri Nguyen and Veronica Ngo. The two burgeoning stars would reunite several years later for Le Thanh Son’s crime thriller, Clash (or Bẫy rồng), starring the two in a story of a mercenary who gathers a ragtag team to perform a series of dangerous tasks in order to reunite with the daughter she’s been restrained from by her boss, played by Hoang Phuc Nguyen.
The story and acting both fare amply well for a presentable feature in Clash but the action is of utmost importance. JTN’s choreography is evenly paced and compliments the strengths of all involved, including actor Lam Minh Thang who plays the menacing Cang who ultimately goes turncoat midway into the film. The final sequence pits Ngo against Thang with JTN taking on Nguyen whose role is remarkably badass as he is audacious when it comes to throwing down in the muck while wearing white, otherwise, you would think he was just another face in the casting lineup.
The most crucial aspect here in my view is JTN’s growing star power at this point of his career, with a style of action performance and direction that easily places him among some of the best, including and especially Jaa and even Mathis Landwehr (Kampfansage: Der Letzte Schuler) and Marko Zaror (Kiltro). To this end, it’s given greatly to Ngo who has ventured out to become one of Vietnam’s biggest success stories, producing and directing, as well as starring in films both at home and abroad across multiple markets, including 2019’s Furie and Netflix prequel Furies, as well as co-starring in Hulu release The Princess and in the upcoming sequel to 2020’s The Old Guard to name a few.
I still mourn the censorship of Cho Lon and what it could have led to for JTN to this day, and I still hope that at some point a specialty firm will come along and acquire the film, finish it and present it to the masses for legitimate release. I still haven’t seen the film’s leaked version to this day and thus refuse to, even if and when people who’ve seen it still tend to ask me for my opinions on it. I’ll wait in the meantime.
As for Clash, the now-defunct Indomina picked it up for the U.S. in 2010, and thankfully, the film remains available for digital purchase on places like Amazon and Apple TV+. You can also stream the film for free via Plex or Shout! Factory TV, or FAST service Tubi.
Native New Yorker. Lover of all things pizza, chocolate, pets, and good friends. Karaoke hero. Left of center. Survivor. Fond supporter of cult, obscure and independent cinema - especially fond of Asian movies and global action cinema. Author of the bi-weekly Hit List. Founder and editor of Film Combat Syndicate. Still, very much, only human.
You must log in to post a comment.