Bullet Points: Showdown in Manila
Everyone has dreams, but few have the determination, the drive and in many cases the courage to make them come true. Alexander Nevsky is one of those lucky few because Nevsky is actively chasing his dream of being an action movie hero. Nevsky had the opportunity to play action hero once again in Showdown in Manila, a movie Nevsky also helped write and produce.
Showdown in Manila mashes up elements of the classic buddy cop movies of the past along with elements from The Expendables series and it does so with an all-star cast that includes… Matthias Hues, Casper Van Dien, Mark Dacascos, Cynthia Rothrock, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Olivier Gruner, Tia Carrere, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa and Alexander Nevsky of course.
- Prologue: As the movie opens, Sgt. Nick Peyton (Alexander Nevsky) is leading the Violent Crime Unit into action… their objective to take down a drug dealing bad guy known as The Wraith (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa). But what was supposed to happen and what actually ends up happening are two totally different things. It seems that somebody on the inside of the police department tipped off the bad guys that the VCU was coming. A bloody shootout ensues and the VCU casualty count is high while The Wraith escapes unscathed. Every member of the VCU team was killed with the exception of Nick, who just barely survived and ends up in the hospital. It is there in his hospital bed that Nick learns that he is going to be made the scapegoat for the mission turned massacre and the police captain unceremoniously fires his ass.
- Two Years Later: The Wraith would strike again at a resort in Manila when he is spotted by FBI agent Matthew Wells (Mark Dacascos) who is on vacation with his wife (Tia Carrere). Wells pursues The Wraith but is snagged by The Wraith’s bodyguard Dorn (Matthias Hues) and as Dorn holds Wells, The Wraith stabs Wells killing him almost instantly… and Mrs. Wells saw the whole thing! The Wraith and Dorn once again crawl back into the hole they came out of and Mrs. Wells turns to the Manila Police Department for help. Detective Sabio of the VCU is tasked with transporting Mrs. Wells to a safe house, but again it appears someone on the inside of the department is on The Wraith’s payroll and Sabio and Mrs. Wells end up seeing some action along the way and both get a chance to kick a little ass in the process.
- Peyton’s Place: We catch up with Nick Peyton who is now working as a private investigator in Manila, partnering up with a former LAPD cop, Charlie Benz (Casper Van Dien). When we first see our private investigators in action, they are breaking the news to some sad sack that his wife has not been faithful, in fact she is a prostitute. They show the clueless husband the surveillance video proof of her bringing client after client up to a motel room to conduct her business… this leads to our first example of the Charlie Benz character providing some levity to the proceedings as Charlie can’t stop the video and we see Charlie on the video with the man’s whore wife! Oh yeah, did I mention that Charlie Benz is a sex addict?
- Setting up the Showdown: No longer trusting the police or believing they can help her get the justice she demands, Mrs. Wells is pointed in the direction of Nick Peyton and Charlie Benz by Detective Sabio. Mrs. Wells offers Nick and Charlie $100,000 (half in advance, half upon completion) to track down the man who killed her husband, The Wraith. After what The Wraith did to his VCU comrades, Nick would probably track that bastard down for free, so he sure as hell is not going to turn down $100,000 to do it. Charlie and Nick have different ideas of how to go about finding where The Wraith is hiding… Charlie’s approach is to go around town with a picture of The Wraith and asking if anyone has seen him. Nick prefers a more hands on approach… like where he puts his hands on scumbags and beats the information out of them. Guess which method is more effective? Nick gets a tip from one of his long time informants named Kiki, that Dorn likes to frequent a local brothel when he’s in town… Nick and Charlie track Dorn down, but he is not going to give them the information they want without a fight and this leads to a foot chase through the crowded streets of Manila! The entire sequence of events with Nick, Charlie and Dorn were probably the highlight of the movie for me.
- Jungle Boogie: Once Nick and Charlie learn that The Wraith has a secret drug lab in the jungle that is more or less protected by an army, Nick decides to call in some old friends for help… There’s Dillon (Don “The Dragon” Wilson of Bloodfist fame)… Ford (Olivier Gruner of Savage fame), Haines (Cynthia Rothrock of Sworn to Justice fame)… and some guy named Victor. Our six heroes waste little time in making their way to The Wraith’s jungle hideout and business picks up in hurry. We get gun play, hand to hand combat, explosions… the action was wall to wall or in this case tree to tree.
Showdown in Manila was everything I expected and more. The more was courtesy of Casper Van Dien. The Charlie Benz character may be the best character Van Dien has played not named Johnny Rico. Casper’s charm and sense of humor breathed life into the quirky hero Charlie Benz. The contrasting personalities of Van Dien’s Charlie and Nevsky’s Nick made for a great combination and it is a combination I’d like to see more of in the future.
Speaking of the future, I predict you will read some Bonus Bullet Points in the next few seconds…
- Memorable Quote: “I’ve been banging Kiki like a firecracker!”
- If You Ever: …wanted to witness Casper Van Dien unsuccessfully hit on Cynthia Rothrock, then this is the movie for you.
- Name Calling: Funny man Charlie is not shy about calling his much larger partner Nick things like Godzilla, Chewbacca and my personal favorite The Russian Hulk.
- You Always Remember Your First Time: Showdown in Manila was Mark Dacascos’ directorial debut. Knowing this information before I went in is why I did not protest when Dacascos’ character is killed off so quickly.
- End at the Beginning: The opening credits of Showdown in Manila were pretty slick and gave the movie a big budget feel.