Clash (aka Bay Rong) is a 2009 Vietnamese martial arts/action film starring actor/stuntman Johnny Tri Nguyen and actress/singer/model Veronica Ngo (aka Ngo Thanh Van). Nguyen and Ngo previously starred in the 2007 action film The Rebel (aka Dong Mau Anh Hung) with Dustin Nguyen (of Fox TV’s 21 Jump Street). Veronica Ngo, by the way, is the most adorably cute Vietnamese actress, like, ever; and, in both The Rebel and Clash, she is awesomely badass as well as stunningly beautiful.
In Clash, Trinh (Veronica Ngo) is a female assassin trained by and working for a crime boss known as Black Dragon (Hoang Phuc Nguyen). She wants out, but, Black Dragon is holding Trinh‘s daughter captive until she completes one more job for him. She’s forced to steal a laptop that can hack into Vietnam’s Vinasat-1 satellite from some “Frenchies” in Saigon. In order to do so, she assembles a ragtag team of mercenaries, including Quan (Johnny Tri Nguyen), whom she, eventually, becomes romantically involved with. In a scene inspired by Quentin Tarantino‘s Reservoir Dogs (1992), Trinh gives her team code names: she is “Phoenix“, Quan is “Tiger“, her young driver is “Hawk“, an untrustworthy loose cannon is “Snake“, and, a short muscle-bound oaf is “Ox“. Ox, of course, doesn’t appreciate the name, ala “Mr. Pink“. Anyway, her team succeeds in stealing the laptop, after a brutal fight, but, the aptly-named Snake betrays Trinh, killing her friend Hawk, and stealing the merchandise. But, to make matters worse for Trinh, she learns that Quan is actually an undercover cop, whose mission is to get Black Dragon. Trinh is understandably angry, but, eventually, she and Quan are forced to work together, again, to take down Black Dragon and recover the laptop.
I’m a big fan of Asian cult cinema. I own over 200 Asian films on DVD, mostly Japanese, Chinese and Korean, but, Clash was my first taste of Vietnamese action cinema, and, it went down easy. Clash is fast-paced martial arts and gunplay action at its finest. But, despite the plentiful and amazingly well-choreographed action sequences (courtesy of Johnny Tri Nguyen), the movie also succeeds at telling a story with characters worth caring about. In fact, the best scene is not an action sequence at all. It’s where Quan learns about Trinh‘s daughter, and Trinh learns that Quan is a cop – it’s powerful and tense. But, then, Trinh tries to kill Quan, and, an action sequence ensues!
Johnny Tri Nguyen, who co-wrote Clash with director Le Thanh Son, is the perfect action star: he’s tall [well, taller than me, anyway], good looking, and, in real life, a skilled martial artist. But, truth be told, Veronica Ngo is this film’s true star. She has a very slight frame, which makes her ability to best bigger, muscular thugs who have equal fighting skills, hard to believe; but, this seemingly delicate flower pulls it off with panache. She gets beaten, bruised and bloodied, but, always ends up the one still standing. Trinh‘s climactic fight with Snake is stunning and brutal. Oh, and, she is just so damn ADORABLE with that jet black graduated bob!
Watch the trailer for Clash here: