Movies & TV / Reviews

Showdown in Manila Review

January 19, 2018 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Showdown in Manila
The 411 Rating
Community Grade
Your Grade
Showdown in Manila Review  

Showdown in Manila Review

Alexander Nevsky– Nick Peyton
Casper Van Dien– Charlie Benz
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa– Aldric Cole/The Wraith
Tia Carrere– Mrs. Wells
Mathias Hues– Dorn
Don “The Dragon” Wilson– Dillon
Cynthia Rothrock– Haines
Olivier Gruner– Ford
Dmitry Dyuzhev– Victor
Mark Dacascos– Mathew Wells
Maria Bravikova– Sofia
Hazel Faith Dela Cruz– Kiki
Robert Madrid– Carlos

Directed by Mark Dacascos
Screenplay by Craig Hamann, based on a story by Alexander Nevsky, Mark Dacascos, and Craig Hamann

Distributed by ITN Distribution

Not Rated
Runtime– 86 minutes


Showdown in Manila, directed by Mark Dacascos, has been marketed as a kind of low budget The Expendables as it features an all-star action cast kicking ass and taking names as only bonafide action stars can. The reality, though, is that it doesn’t really become a low budget The Expendables until well over an hour. Before that, Showdown in Manila is more of a buddy cop type movie. I’m not complaining about that. Both sections of the movie more than deliver the action movie goods.

Showdown in Manila stars Alexander Nevsky as Nick Peyton, a badass former cop with the Manila Violent Crime Unit who now works as a private detective with his buddy, ex-American cop Charlie Benz (Johnny Rico hisself Casper Van Dien). Peyton and Benz are approached by a woman (Tia Carrere) whose husband (director Dacascos) is killed at a Manila resort by the henchmen of Aldric Cole (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), an international criminal known as The Wraith. Carrere’s Mrs. Wells wants Peyton and Benz to track down the Wraith, capture him, and in the process take down his worldwide crime business (he’s apparently into all sorts of nasty stuff, from running guns and drugs to human trafficking). It will be a tough job for the private dick team as they don’t really have the resources for such an operation. However, Mrs. Wells has resources and is willing to pay top dollar for Peyton and Benz’s help. It also helps that Peyton has history with the Wraith and his operation.

See, when Peyton was the head of the VCU he participated in an operation that involved one of the Wraith’s local gang leaders (Robert Madrid, who often appears in star Nevsky’s movies). The operation went to shit, as Peyton’s team was killed and Peyton was shot and hospitalized by the Wraith’s main henchman Dorn (the incomparable Mathias Hues). Peyton would do anything to get his revenge on Dorn, his boss, and the Wraith’s business.

So Peyton and Benz start driving around Manila, asking questions and tracking down leads and whatnot. After some trips to the seedier side of Manila and some bar fights, Peyton and Benz find a man who knows exactly where the Wraith currently has his operation headquartered. To make a long story short, the Wraith’s HQ is in the jungle, and the private detectives are going to need some help. Peyton makes some calls and manages to assemble a truly badass team of, well, badasses, to go into the jungle and take down the Wraith. Dillon (Don “The Dragon” Wilson), Haines (Cynthia Rothrock), Ford (Olivier Gruner), and Victor (Dmitry Dyuzhev) are all old pals of Peyton and are more than willing to go into the jungle and kick some ass. Will our heroes succeed and take down the Wraith?

The buddy cop aspect of the movie is something I didn’t expect to see, mostly because, again, the movie has been marketed as an all-star action extravaganza. There’s a fairly decent opening action scene where we see Peyton lead his VCU team into a local hotel only to get ambushed by the Wraith’s men, but after that it’s Nevsky and Van Dien driving around Manila tracking down leads. As with all buddy cop type stories, the chemistry between the buddies is what makes or breaks the movie, and the chemistry between Nevsky and Van Dien is damn near extraordinary. You get the sense as soon as you see them that they’ve been friends for years, have seen and done some nasty shit as a team, and will have eachother’s backs until the very end. They’re funny together, too, with Nevsky acting as the laidback straight man to Van Dien’s sort of goofy idiot. Nevsky is obviously the muscle of the tandem, while Van Dien is the runner and the smooth talker (he’s very good with the ladies). You could easily see them together in a movie series where they take on various cases and bad guys and whatnot.

And when Nevsky’s team shows up you get a sense of their shared history taking down bad guys all over the place. They’ve all been there and done that and we know it because, presumably, we’ve seen a good chunk of what they’ve done on screen. We probably haven’t seen Dmitry Dyuzhev kicking ass as he doesn’t appear to be an action star in his native Russia or anywhere else. But then Dyuzhev’s Victor is the team’s sniper, so it’s not like he’s going to be engaged in much hand-to-hand combat, so having him on the team makes a kind of sense. All he needs to do is sit in a tree with a scoped rifle. Anyone can do that in a movie.

The big finale in the Manila jungle starts off kind of slow, but when the bullets finally start flying it’s goddamn awesome. We’ve got gun battles, explosions (and most of them look like actual explosions), and plenty of hand-to-hand carnage, with Wilson, Rothrock, and Gruner participating in what can only be described as a martial arts montage of epic proportions.

Dacascos does a decent job as director. As an action star himself, he knows how to make his cast look good doing what they do best, kicking ass and taking names. There are a few moments where the action isn’t as clear as it perhaps should be (there’s a scene in a hallway that’s confusing at the beginning of the movie), but, for a first time movie director, Dacascos succeeds more than he fails. That’s commendable.

I also want to commend the sound design team for making both the guns and the explosions sound scary and formidable. There are too many low budget action movies out there with crappy sound effects. It’s always a pleasure to see experience a movie that pays attention to that kind of thing and does the “right” thing. Outstanding.


The cast is phenomenal. Nevsky gives his best performance to date as Nick Peyton. He looks at ease fighting, shooting guns, and interacting with the other cast members, especially Van Dien, who is hilarious as ex-American cop Benz. As I said, I wouldn’t mind seeing them together again in another movie, taking on other cases and bad guys.

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa does a great job making the Wraith an absolute piece of crap criminal mastermind. There’s absolutely nothing redeeming about the guy and you can’t wait to see him go down. Mathias Hues is terrific as Dorn, the Wraith’s main henchman. Dorn is a little more charismatic and likeable compared to the Wraith, but you still don’t like him. You want to see him go down hard, too.

It’s so damn great to see Wilson, Rothrock, and Gruner in action again, especially Gruner, who really needs to be in more movies (I still haven’t seen Assassin X or Darkweb). It’s interesting how Gruner is the most vicious of the three, while Wilson is the most vulnerable. Rothrock gets a nifty double nightstick fight scene that shows she still has what it takes to rock the house (just in case you didn’t already know that).

And Tia Carrere gets to both stretch herself a bit dramatically and fight some people. That’s always cool to see. She’s also still gorgeous as hell. Sorry for being a pig and all but it’s the truth.

Showdown in Manila is a well-made, low budget action flick featuring a top notch action star cast. I’d love to see everyone again on another adventure. The ending seems to imply that may be the case. Showdown in Havana anyone?

See Showdown in Manila. See it, see it, goddamn see it. It’s awesome.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: Lots. If it’s less than 50 I’d be shocked.

Explosions: Multiple, big and small, and most of them look like actual explosions.

Nudity?: Briefly.

Doobage: Some cool opening titles, a hotel siege, off screen throat slitting, flashbang grenade attack, a shootout, sweet sounding guns, giant knife attack, a seemingly endless flight of stairs, a nice looking beach resort, butter knife through the eye, a patio martial arts brawl, gut stabbing, potential police corruption, sketching, attempted car attack, a funny surveillance video sequence, a questioning people on the streets of Manila montage, bartender manhandling, attempted baseball bat attack, serious nose smashing, a fat bouncer, hand crushing, scaring a guy who tries to use nunchucks, knee crushing, torture, two bags of Chinese food, a stakeout, a sort of hidden nightclub, face slapping, ass grabbing, attempted threesome, running, a mega punch to the face, action stars in an inflatable boat, mosquitoes, a complicated box moving scheme using a zip line, bomb setting, neck breaking, a big shootout, sniper hooey, multiple exploding cars, M60 hooey, multiple grenade attacks, a wicked headshot, exploding hut, double nightstick attack, a nice action star fighting montage, bamboo stick hooey, light chair bondage, cigar smoking, and the prospect of a sequel.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: Alexander Nevsky, Alexander Nevsky as a badass cop in Manila, Robert Madrid, Alexander Nevsky with a giant knife, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Mathias Hues, “with all due respect,” “are you threatening me?,” Mark Dacascos, Tia Carrere, Mark Dacascos and Tia Carrere as a couple, Casper Van Dien, Alexander Nevsky and Casper Van Dien having lunch, pole dancing, “two questions,” sex addict talk, a young Russian girl who wants to run in the Olympics, “Russian stuff,” Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Cynthia Rothrock, Olivier Gruner, a jungle firefight, Casper Van Dien asking Cynthia Rothrock out on a date, talk of “cleaners,” cigar smoking, and the prospect of a sequel.

Best lines: “What’s up, little bitches? Are you looking for me? I’m right here!,” “Flash bang!,” “I love you,” “This wasn’t a gang war!,” “A prostitute?,” “What was that, Charlie?,” “Excuse me? The Wraith?,” “Why the hell can’t the police handle this?,” “Told you. We should have done this my way,” “Do you always have to have the last word? Absolutely,” “I don’t speak Wookie, Chewbacca,” “Where’s Kiki? She’s smoking pole… somewhere,” “It’s time someone shit your mouth for you,” “Lave Kiki alone,” “You want some Chinese?,” “What can I say? That’s a really nice love story,” “Long blonde hair?,” “You’re my hero, Charlie,” “You want bang bang?,” “Look! It’s him!,” “Wow. You guys put some pain on him. Although you might want to bulk up. Get a little more mass,” “You’re about to lose your balls, man,” “Don’t you dare miss the theatre night on Friday,” “Enough of this. Let’s kick some ass,” “I can slice the balls off a mosquito with this,” “Can we get eyes on him?,” “I cannot find Dorn,” “Batman and Robin come to save the day,” “Next time you want to take down some bad guys give me a call,” “Am I under arrest?,” and “We should go to Cuba. We should.”

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Showdown in Manila is part buddy cop flick, part all-star action flick, and it’s highly entertaining throughout. First time director Mark Dacascos does a fine job with the cast and the action, and it’s just awesome to see so many action stars in one movie. If you’re an action movie fan check out Showdown in Manila. Bring on the sequel!