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Trinh, a mercenary, must complete a series of organized crime jobs for her boss in order to win the release of her kidnapped daughter. She hires several mercenaries to help, including Quan, who she becomes attracted to. Trinh and Quan's relationship becomes complicated as it becomes evident that their motivations are not the same.Written by
Expectations for any martial arts action film are usually the same: be entertained by lots of great fight scenes. Johnny Nguyen's martial arts expertise doesn't disappoint in Clash, but the film fortunately goes deeper than just that which places it in an elite category of martial arts action films.
Thanh Van "Veronica" Ngo plays Trinh/Phoenix and creates a beautiful, brutal, yet warm and caring lead character that is the centerpiece of the film. When she fights it is masterful, and when she breaks down over those she loves it is touching. Being able to believe in her diversity of actions and emotions shows her mastery of the character.
Johnny Nguyen wrote the story and has created a role for himself, Quan/Tiger, which not only has him taking a back seat to Trinh, but has created a complex character who has secrets, who has emotions beyond being angry at the bad guys, and of course who can grace the scene with his amazing fight sequences. As the dutiful right hand man of Trinh he follows orders, yet does so with a protective eye at every turn. It is obvious as the film progresses that Tiger is developing feelings for Phoenix and at the moment they are finally alone and safe from the chaotic world outside he expresses how he feels by saying, "I don't wanna call you Phoenix anymore, I want to call you by your real name." A subtle way of expressing his feelings that is easily understood by Trinh who made it clear that Rule #1 is never use your real name so you remain an anonymous person. Their moment doesn't degrade into a cheesy roll in the hay but becomes a conversation about the complexity of their lives while acknowledging the mutual feelings and finally the love scene (aka "roll in the hay"). A beautifully conceived scene.
And with the great acting and the complexity of the characters, there are some brief moments of genuine humor (not bad one liners), Christopher Wong's original adrenaline rush score and of course plenty of martial arts fight scenes that don't disappoint, in particular, raiding the house and fighting the "Frenchies." And all that leads to a conclusion that is not what you would predict (thankfully) and yet lends itself perfectly to the hard truth about the complexity that will continue to be their lives beyond this one mission.
If there is a downside to the film, it is the "briefcase." The item that everyone wants is never defined as to it's importance both in it's content and what it has the capability of doing in the wrong hands. From the beginning of the film the depth of the mission is unclear and the briefcase becomes just a prop with no tangible value. However, when you only expect action from a martial arts film and you get so much more with the development of the characters, who cares about the briefcase!
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