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Review: A CLEAR SHOT (2019)

In 1991 four-armed Vietnamese men stormed a Good Guys! Electronics store in Sacramento, CA. What was supposed to have been a simple-armed robbery turned into the largest hostage rescue operation in US history. A Clear Shot is writer/director Nick Leisure’s (Janitors) adaption of these events.

Loi (Hao Do), his brother Long (Tony Dew) and friends Pham (Kevin Bach) and Cuong (Dang Tran) plan on storming an electronics store, looting the cash registers and safe and getting out again. Things however go wrong, and they end up surrounded by cops and holding everyone in the store hostage.

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Gomez (Mario Van Peebles, Immortal, Baadasssss!) an inexperienced negotiator is assigned to defuse the situation. He quickly realizes that he’s not dealing with professional criminals. He also senses that Loi, their leader, wants to avoid violence. However, Long is looking for an excuse to start shooting. And so is the head of the SWAT team Sheriff Todd (Michael Balin). Can he end the standoff without bloodshed?

Not being familiar with the actual case until I saw A Clear Shot, I was expecting a bit more of an action film. Instead, it’s more of a suspense thriller. We have Gomez and Loi trying to keep their people calm and negotiate a settlement. There are a couple of people trapped in the store that the gang aren’t aware of, can they stay undetected and keep giving Gomez information? And there are the usual additional dramas, such as a pregnant hostage. The script keeps all of these in play to keep the film’s tension levels up.

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Which isn’t to say A Clear Shot doesn’t have some lighter moments. At one point, Loi demands body armour, “like Robocop’s”. And in response the full of himself Kappy (Marshal Hilton, Echoes of Fear, Astro) finds himself delivering a bulletproof vest wearing only his underwear.

We also get flashbacks telling us how the four men came to the decision to rob the store. It’s an odd move because these aren’t the most sympathetic of characters. However, as the divisions among them start to show, this pays off as it doesn’t seem like a plot device pulled out at the last minute.

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A solid thriller, A Clear Shot will be available on DVD and Digital June 2nd from Uncork’d Entertainment.

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