I'm certainly no expert in the realm of Vietnamese action cinema. I know there was one such flick a few years back called The Rebel that earned some accolades and a stateside DVD release, plus I do recall an odd one from last Fantastic Fest called The Legend is Alive, but beyond that? Nada. Over the course of my festival travels I've enjoyed crazy action films from Japan, China, Korea, Thailand, the Philippines ... but not a whole lot from Vietnam.
So I'm officially one-for-one in the Vietnamese action flick department, thanks to the Tribeca Film Festival's selection of Le Thanh Son's Clash (aka Bay Rong) as part of their "Cinemania" slate. It's a broad, colorful, mostly snappy action flick that delivers the basic goods at a very brisk clip -- and doesn't waste a lot of brain cells while doling out the violence. As with virtually all of the Asian action films I enjoy, Clash does manage to fall in that most prevalent of imported potholes: the pacing. But more on that in a minute. I have a very extensive plot synopsis to cover.
There's this gorgeous mercenary gal, and her little girl is being held captive by a sleazy villain. She must complete a series of six "missions" if she wants to be reunited with her daughter, and to that end, Trinh (the stunning Thanh Van Ngo) must enlist a collection of ass-kicking sidekicks, defeat the evil Frenchmen, and retrieve a mega-valuable laptop computer. Oh, and one of the criminals she enlists is also an undercover cop. Plus more surprises you'll probably see coming, and then a few you won't.