Showdown in Manila
- 1h 26m
Private detectives Nick (Alexander Nevsky) and Charlie (Casper Van Dien) live and work in Manila. A murder investigation leads them to the jungle camp of an international terrorist called Th... Read allPrivate detectives Nick (Alexander Nevsky) and Charlie (Casper Van Dien) live and work in Manila. A murder investigation leads them to the jungle camp of an international terrorist called The Wrath. Not trusting the police, Nick and Charlie assemble a team of daredevils to walk s... Read allPrivate detectives Nick (Alexander Nevsky) and Charlie (Casper Van Dien) live and work in Manila. A murder investigation leads them to the jungle camp of an international terrorist called The Wrath. Not trusting the police, Nick and Charlie assemble a team of daredevils to walk straight into the Wrath's lair and fight an army of his goons.
- (as Don 'The Dragon' Wilson)
Even including Van Dien and his character Charlie, dialogue mostly varies from boorish, to tired, to dull. Scene writing varies from boorish, to tired, to dull. Characters range from boorish, to blase, to flat. There's nothing whatsoever in the narrative to meaningfully grab one's attention. With four brief sentences I've succinctly described Craig Hamann's screenplay, and it's not worthwhile to expound upon it any further except to note more than a few tropes, including one or two racist ones. Dacascos' direction is truly no better. The fundamental orchestration of almost every shot and scene feels lethargic and soporific, if not stilted - and that most definitely includes scenes with any measure of action or violence. I can't speak for every actor on hand, but there are a few noteworthy names here whose skill I recognize - so for the fact that they are shoved into a small corner that reduces their performances to either unbothered, lackadaiscal daydreaming or egregious overacting, with no middle ground, I assume Dacascos' inexperienced guiding hand is to blame. On the other hand, leading man Alexander Nevsky seems as stone-faced, wooden, and unmoving as John Wayne or Steven Seagal, illustrating acting one or two steps down from even that of his constrained co-stars. Ugh.
Whatever the tone of a given scene, or its content, the intended stimulation is so heavily squashed by flagging pacing and flailing direction that one may fairly wonder if 'Showdown in Manila' weren't intended as a deadpan parody of its brethren. For every inclusion that should offer a spark of joy, others cancel them out as questionable and unnecessary. What levity we get can't begin carry the film. The cast is utterly wasted, so one shouldn't get too excited that, say, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa is involved, or Cynthia Rothrock. Even supposing that action scenes did serve up appropriate levels of excitement - and they emphatically do not - the rest of the picture drags them down. The nearest this comes to offering any invigoration at all is in the hand-to-hand combat we see at the climax, but the arrangement of these moments is so blunt as to diminish their impact. I don't even know if I can rightly say that the feature is well made from a technical standpoint, as special effects are dubious, sound design feels indifferent, Sean Murray's music is bland, and even props and costume design seem to have been approached with a mindset of "Hmm, yes, this looks very paramilitary."
I want so badly to say there was something about this to stick out to me, in a positive way, that would save the whole from sinking to the bottom of the barrel. But there just wasn't. From start to finish 'Showdown in Manila is endlessly tedious, and altogether lacks color or flavor - which is, genuinely, preferable to moments that outright leave a bad taste in our mouth. There are no highlights; on the other hand, I'm not sure whose specific contribution is more rotten. Whatever it was about this title that drew you in - as someone who has watched many movies of a wide range of genres and quality, let me assure you that there's just no reason to watch this. Whatever you're looking for, it can be found elsewhere in much greater abundance, with much more value. Even if you're a diehard fan of someone involved in the production, 'Showdown in Manila' isn't a movie that anyone needs to see.
- May 16, 2022