A scene from the Vietnamese movie "Clash (Bay Rong)" (Indomina Releasing )
"Clash" ("Bay Rong"), which marks Le Thanh Son's directorial debut, is a dazzling Vietnamese martial arts movie with a soul, a stylish, gorgeously photographed film in which action sequences are punctuated by serene vistas of natural beauty.
Its protagonists, Trinh (Ngo Thanh Van) and Quan (Johnny Tri Nguyen, who also co-wrote and co-produced), are caught up in a violent underworld they long to escape. Trinh, the icy leader of a hit squad that includes ex-con Quan, must rob from French mobsters a certain hard drive if she is to secure the return of her kidnapped daughter from the villainous Hac Long (Hoang Phuc), the heartless Black Dragon. That hard drive will allow the Black Dragon to gain control of Vinsat.1, Vietnam's only satellite.
"Clash," a top grosser in Vietnam last year, has strong crossover potential and excellent, highly vernacular English subtitles. Nguyen, who was grew up in America, and Van, also a singer, who was raised in Norway, are top stars in their native country, as is the veteran Phuc. Son's previous experience stems from the world of music videos.
"Clash" has it all: artistry and craftsmanship, romance, wit, humor and plenty of danger — and even a torrid tango danced by Van and Nguyen — but most importantly, credible back stories for the leads that give the film a human dimension and make "Clash" special.
"Clash." No MPAA rating. In Vietnamese with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 43 minutes. At the Garden Grove 16 and the Westminster 10 in Orange County.