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July 2016

Asian Connection

cast: Steven Seagal, Michael Jai White, John Edward Lee, Byron Gibson, and Pim Bubear

director: Daniel Zirilli

88 minutes (15) 2016
widescreen ratio 16:9
Soda DVD Region 2
[released 4th July]

RATING: 6/10
review by Ian Shutter

Asian Connection

Steven Seagal is a veteran of many B-movies and a champion of exploitation cinema. His typically characterful work switches between, or combines elements from, urban dramas - often featuring foreign intrigues, martial arts actioners, and big spectacular thrillers - sometimes with a vaguely sci-fi content.

Despite being in his sixties, Seagal remains a subtly imposing figure even though all the best days of his fighting displays are behind him. As a movie actor, Seagal is certainly not over the hill or gone-to-seed. He has long since mastered the art of minimalist performance and his presence, even with limited screen-time in mojo priest mode, here dominates the storyline, just as expected.

In this picture, set in Cambodia and Thailand, Seagal plays the heavy - a guru-like villain named Gan who's after antiheroes Jack and Sam (John Edward Lee and Byron Gibson, respectively), a couple of bank-robbers on a crime spree, who foolishly stole his money. Gan stands like a beast made entirely of refined but 100 percent confrontational bad-ass, and he walks around in an unstoppable style like a human tank, very easily demolishing any obstacles made only of ordinary human muscle and fragile bone. When Gan's gravely gravitas talks on the phone, nervous people answer 'Yes, Sir.'

The shoot 'em ups and chase sequences are certainly lively enough, especially when boasting plenty of local colour, so that even the various recycled genre clichés of romanticised American outlaw flicks here receive a brightly cheerful makeover when scenes are shot against authentically exotic backdrops. There's unavoidable misfortune and outright tragedy as the odds increase, stakes escalate, and the going full-tilt ahead gets tougher for all concerned.

As it boils down to a vengeful variant on Bonnie & Clyde in faraway locales, Asian Connection is competently but not impressively directed. It's a quite watchable and workmanlike film-fest of thumping aikido fists and popping machine-guns that zips along to its explosive conclusion and, thankfully, does not outstay its welcome.



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