Showdown in Manila (2017)

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An action ensemble cast joins Russian powerhouse Alexander Nevsky for this throwback action film which marked the directorial debut of Mark Dacascos, known to most today as the Chairman of Food Network’s Iron Chef America.

Nick Peyton has attempted numerous times to find the mysterious crime figure known as “The Wraith”. During their latest attempt, Nick is wounded by the Wraith’s top men but ultimately survives, hoping to one day seek retribution. The chance arrives when Matthew Wells is murdered at the hands of the Wraith’s organization and his widow seeks justice by hiring Nick and new partner Charlie Benz to find the Wraith.

On the streets of Manila, Nick and Charlie encounter various clues that may lead them to the location of the Wraith. When Nick finally finds Dorn, one of the Wraith’s cohorts and one of the guys who gunned Nick down, Dorn finally reveals where the Wraith is located. However, learning exactly where he is, Nick knows that he and Charlie will be not be able to capture him alone. Nick puts in a call to some old allies to help him on this dangerous mission. Will Nick get the Wraith and finally seek retribution for both himself and Mrs. Wells?

Alexander Nevsky is truly making his mark known for his low-budgeted action films which, depending on your taste, are either “love them” or “hate them”. After making his directorial debut with Black Rose, he has joined forces with Andrzej Bartkowiak, the director of Romeo Must Die and Cradle 2 the Grave, and 90’s action hero and current Iron Chef America chairman Mark Dacascos on this film, which takes its inspiration from The Expendables.

This time around Mark Dacascos makes his directorial debut on the film and has a cameo appearance as the ill-fated Matthew Wells, whose death triggers Nevsky’s Nick to not only capture his arch-nemesis and seek retribution for his near-fatal shooting. However, what stands out is that while Dacascos makes the most of the locations and budget, Nevsky, who also served as a producer, helped bring in a slew of 90’s B-movie action stars to the forefront and have them align with himself for its third and final act.

Much of the film focuses on the ongoing investigation of the location with the Wraith, played by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, a veteran known for epic villain roles such as Yoshida in Showdown in Little Tokyo, Sangha in Kickboxer 2: The Road Back, and Shang Tsung in the first Mortal Kombat movie. Here, he is the mastermind known simply as “The Wraith” and he spends most of the film hidden. After the film’s opening action sequence, he is sporadically seen until the third act, instead leaving the work to 90’s powerhouse villain actor Matthias Hues to do the dirty work. Tia Carrere, who gained fame for the late 90’s action series Relic Hunter as well as appearing in films like the aforementioned Showdown in Little Tokyo, doesn’t get much action but stands more as the woman who hires our heroes to find out who killed her husband.

As for Nevsky, he has a new partner in Straship Troopers’ Casper Van Dien and the two have chemistry meant for a buddy action comedy. Nevsky’s by-the-book hardcore cop complements Van Dien’s laid back womanizing detective. However, the third act, set in the jungle is where the action really picks up as fans of this throwback era will have the likes of Cynthia Rothrock, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, and Olivier Gruner along with Dmitriy Dyuzhev as fellow Russian Victor, all of whom play characters who have worked with Nevsky’s Nick at one point.

In charge of the film’s action sequences are Al Dacascos and Emmanuel Bettancourt with Sonny Sison serving as second unit director. Al Dacascos, the father of our film’s director, is a martial arts legend, finding the style of wun hop kuen do, itself based off Kajukenbo. While many would expect with a cast of 90’s action stars a style similar to what was seen back in the day, with the resources they had to work with, Master Dacascos utilized more realism by providing short and quick fights that sporadically come throughout the film with the finale in the jungle combining both martial arts action and gunfire galore.

If you are a hardcore action film that expects plenty of fisticuffs and love that low-budget feel to it, add to the mix a 90’s B-movie dream cast, then Showdown in Manila is worth taking a look. If you’re expecting something along the lines of a martial arts epic considering the cast, then you will want to avoid this one. This is one instance where as mentioned, you will either “love it”, “like it”, or “hate it”. Nevertheless, this is one team I’d be happy to align myself with.

WFG RATING: C+

ITN Distribution presents a Hollywood Storm/Czar Pictures production. Director: Mark Dacascos. Producer: Alexander Nevsky. Writer: Craig Hamman; story by Hamman, Alexander Nevsky, and Mark Dacascos. Cinematography: Rudy Harbon. Editing: Stephen Adrianson.

Cast: Alexander Nevsky, Casper Van Dien, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Tia Carrere, Matthias Hues, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Cynthia Rothrock, Olivier Gruner, Dmitriy Dyuzhev, Mark Dacascos, Iza Calzado, Robert Madrid, Polina Butorina.

ITN Distribution will be releasing this film to select theaters on January 19, 2018 followed by a VOD and Digital HD release on January 23, 2018.

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