ContactSales: Cinemavault, Toronto ([email protected])
Theatrical release: Vietnam, 18 Dec 2009.
Presented by Chanh Phuong Films (VN). Produced by Chanh Phuong Films (VN). Executive producers: Tawny Truc Nguyen, Rich Long Nguyen, Ryan Hong Hubris, Alex Vu, Carson Vu. Producers: Jimmy Pham Nghiem, Johnny Nguyen, Veronica Ngo.
Script: Johnny Nguyen, Le Thanh Son, Ho Quang Hung. Photography: Dominic Pereira. Editing: Tran Quang Ham. Music: Christopher Wong. Production design: La Quy Tung. Art direction: Nguyen Dung. Costume design: Tran Trung Linh. Sound: Nguyen Huu Nam, Tom Marks. Action: Johnny Nguyen. MMA consultation: Patrick Huan Nguyen. Special effects: Tancharoren, Nutchapel Pholphaka, Sumalee Tancharoen.
Cast: Johnny Nguyen ("Tiger", Nguyen Anh Quan), Veronica Ngo ("Phoenix," Trinh), Hoang Phuc (Black Dragon), Lam Minh Thang ("Snake", Cang), Hieu Hien ("Ox", Phong), Truong The Vinh ("Hawk", Tuan), Nguyen Thi Minh Hang (Mai, Quan's younger sister), Le Huu Phuc (Thanh), Ly Anh Kiet (Minh), Nguyen Hai (Thoong), Trinh Tuan Ngoc (Bodyguard), Nguyen Minh Long (Ve sy), Dang Trung Tuan (Lu), Dien Thai Minh (Mai's friend), Huynh Kim Sang (Sang), Nguyen Anh Tuan (Mother), Isabelle Du (Daughter Phoenix, in prologue), Thanh Truc (Mother Phoenix, in prologue), Hoang Hoa Tien (Quan's mother), Tina Diep (Girl in house), Alain Bruxelles, David Minetti, Remi Recher, Yann Williot, Francois de la Tore, Thomas Michel Meyer, Jerome (Frenchmen).
Clash Bẫy rồng
2009, colour, 2.35:1, 96 mins
Directed by Le Thanh Son
By Derek Elley
Mon, 26 July 2010, 11:06 AM (HKT)
Reminiscent of Hong Kong '80s fare, an enjoyably hardboiled action movie. Asian and genre events, plus strong ancillary.
Ho Chi Minh City, present day. Kidnapped at the age of 14 to work as a prostitute in Cambodia, Phoenix (Veronica Ngo) was rescued and trained as a mercenary by Vietnamese crime lord Black Dragon (Hoang Phuc), who kept her young daughter prisoner as guarantee of her services. Her seventh and final mission, before regaining custody of her daughter, is to recruit a band of four other mercenaries and find a computer - containing stolen codes to Vietnam's defence satellite Vinasat 1 - that some Frenchmen have acquired. The group is made up of strong and silent Tiger (Johnny Nguyen), volatile Snake (Lam Minh Thang), joker Ox (Hieu Hien) and, as their driver, Phoenix's childhood friend Hawk (Truong The Vinh).
Reuniting the same crew and two leads — real-life couple Johnny NGUYỄN and Veronica NGÔ — of Charlie NGUYỄN's period action hit The Rebel Dòng máu anh hùng (2007), first-time director LE Thanh Son's Clash Bẫy rồng (2009) doesn't have the same exotic '20s background of brave Vietnamese patriots fighting colonial French nasties but compensates with much more down-and-dirty action and a riveting performance by Ngo as a ruthless, kohl-eyed mercenary. Unlike stuntman and wushu artist Johnny Nguyen, actress-singer-model Ngo doesn't have any training beyond dance experience; but clever editing and some do-or-die action choreography, plus Nguyen's generous sharing of screen time, prove that after The Rebel she ranks as one of Asia's hottest female action stars.
With Dominic PEREIRA's grungy photography, a "plot" that's basically a collection of fights and shootouts, a smoothly perverse villain in HOÀNG Phúc's Black Dragon, and even a finale in a logging mill, the film is almost an exact replica — down to close-quarter shootouts where no one gets hit — of Hong Kong '80s quickies starring the likes of Moon LEE 李賽鳳, Cynthia KHAN 楊麗菁 or Sharon YEUNG 楊盼盼. (Le, who was an assistant director on The Rebel, seems to know his trashy action movies, and appears to be deliberately directing down.) The only difference is a moderately steamy sequence between Ngo and Johnny Nguyen in a hotel room, and a weird prologue — with a cameo by American-born Vietnamese model Isabelle DU — that only makes sense (if at all) as a kind of existential fantasy. The film's music score swings between hard-driven stuff by Christopher WONG and classical music for Black Dragon's scenes: Clash sets a first by being the only movie so far to use Puccini as backing for a fight sequence.