Clash is one of those films where you can’t help but say “Oh, snap” while watching. Throughout the entire movie there were these absolutely mind-blowing fighting sequences with just amazing martial arts kicks and takedowns. The best part about it all is that it looked realistic: people weren’t flying 10000 feet into the air or doing quadruple back flips. Instead, you get combat that is a significantly higher caliber than your average bar brawl, but maintains that believability that makes you think “Yeah, I could do that too!” (DISCLAIMER: Please do not attempt to do anything shown in the film). The film also, thankfully, does not suffer from the Stormtrooper syndrome that plagues many movies of this type. The heroes and villains in this movie don’t die in a single hit, or several dozen, and keep on fighting with as much strength as they can muster. This extends the immensely enjoyable combat sequences and helps you feel like the heroes are vulnerable, can be overwhelmed, and can die. It gives you a sense that they aren’t gods or godlike (what kind of god bleeds?) and that every fight they are in is a challenge to them. This really adds a feeling of edginess to the film, and gets you invested in each fight. Given the melee combat and a healthy dose of gunfights, you get a film that will meet, nay, SURPASS, your craving for great action.
As great as the action was, the film suffered a bit in the plot. Actually, that might not be entirely accurate. You see, the film was in a language I did not understand, and was subtitled. I watch movies with subtitles anyways, even if they are in English. so that was fine for me…or at least would have been fine had the subtitles been good. Some of the subtitles were in broken English and used simplistic phrases, which I believe may have generalized what the characters were saying. Those tiny but extremely important nuances that help to establish character relationships and motivations were completely missing thanks to the oversimplistic subtitles. In addition, I was unable to read the subtitles in some parts. The subtitles were in this pure white color which, while fine in dimly-lit scenes, was almost impossible to read in the bright scenes. Unfortunately, I believe most of the plot exposition took place not only in brightly it scenes, but also with the camera focused on a main character who always wears pure white clothing. Whether this was due to some cosmic alignment of the stars or the intentional malice of the subtitlers, I will never know. All I can say for sure is that attempting to read white subtitles overlayed on white clothing will make your eyes bleed. I was missing vital details that would have added to my comprehension and enjoyment of the film and the motivations of the characters.
That’s not to say the story isn’t understandable. Enough of the subtitles were readable to get a general idea of what was going on. Apparently, the main character, nicknamed Phoenix, is fighting to get her daughter back from the man I will refer to from here on as “Camouflaged subtitles”, or “Camosubs” for short. Camosubs had originally saved Phoenix from a life of prostitution and trained her, and was now getting a return on his investment by having her do missions for him. To motivate Phoenix to do her job, he had kidnapped Phoenix’s daughter and promised to return her when she completed a certain number of missions. Now that Phoenix is on her last mission, to retrieve a laptop from heavily armed Frenchmen, she wants to do it right. There’s also another guy who just got out of jail and is good at fighting. I didn’t understand anything he said about his dad, but I’m sure he had his reasons for joining Phoenix. He’s actually an undercover cop or something. Anyways, the mission goes horribly wrong a few times and Phoenix and the cop fight their way through a few plot twists.
Some of the plot did leave me searching in vain for an explanation. In one scene Phoenix slits her wrist…and then nothing happens. Nothing is mentioned for the rest of the movie about that, and she seems absolutely fine in the following scene. If I had slit my wrists, I’d be bleeding profusely, not to mention dead within 15 minutes. I’d also probably have to get counseling and stuff and work my way through the seven stages of grief, all the way to acceptance. Another unexplained scene is the very first scene, where some people get killed and attacked. I found absolutely no connection with this scene whatsoever to the plot, and it is not mentioned later on. It was a great way to start the movie, mind you, but I would have liked a better explanation than “I wanted to start the movie with a bang”. I lost my sense of continuity in some of the scenes because I couldn’t tell whether it was taking place before or after the scene that just followed.
Now, to be fair, I may just not have fully understood the plot or dialog or situation due to the cultural differe…ok, never mind, it was the subtitles. They were kind of an indicator of the somewhat inconsistent production quality. Sometimes the scene and audio would just suddenly skip, as if someone had pressed the “next scene” button on the remote control of a DVD player. In one second the characters were in a bar and the next they were in the middle of the forest. A character walking towards a chair suddenly teleported 10 feet to the chair. Now unless I missed a plot point involving teleporters or magic portals, I’m going to guess these were the result of poor film editing, or a sleeping theater operator. This happened often enough to be noticeable, but did not entirely detract from my enjoyment of the film (unless, of course, it skipped important scenes).
The film deserves mention for having some rather humorous scenes. I’m not going to spoil it, but I can say that the comic relief really made me laugh. One scene in particular had my side aching from the laughter, although it was probably an unintentionally funny scene. After having killed a bunch of people and fought for his life, the cop does this absolutely hilarious serious look of intensity that made his eyes bulge and his face look like a comic mask. Now, unless there are some cultural differences I did not understand, that was the best face ever. You’ll know it when you see it.
Clash was a fantastically enjoyable film to watch. Although the subtitles were very weak, there are enough understandable subtitles to give you an overall view of the plot: just don’t expect to understand anything deep unless you speak the language. Other than that, Clash had absolutely amazing action and some funny humor which made for a great night at the movies.