Sunday, February 04, 2024

The Foggy Mountain, sort of Introducing Peter Pham

When a fighter like Phi wants to retire, just let him. But no, slimy crime boss Ba Rang wants him to come back for one last fight, so he can bet against him. You really can’t blame Phi for kicking his final opponent’s butt, but Ba Rang does anyway. We can all smell the feud coming on in Phan Ahn & Ken Dinh’s The Foggy Mountain, which releases Tuesday on digital.

Phi just wants to live quietly, taking care of his blind wife Lanh. Instead, Ba Rang lures him back, but the gangster loses his shirt when Phi wins the match. For those who were watching, it was a pretty good fight, but obviously, only the money matters to Ba Rang. To express his disappointment, he has Phi waylaid and beaten unconscious, but they mistakenly leave him for dead. On the other hand, they make darned sure they finish the job with his wife Lanh.

Of course, Phi is bent on revenge. He knows all about the “dig two graves” business, so he visits one of his former students, now a teacher in a mountain village, as a final act of closure. As it happens, Ba Rang’s human trafficking gang has been active in the area, kidnapping a prostitute and two children. The teacher will be their next victim, but Phi is not having it.

Even by action movie standards, Dinh’s script is pretty bare-bones, but that is not really the point of
Foggy Mountain. Essentially, this is a straight-over-the-plate audition film to determine is Peter Pham (with a handful of films under his belt thus far) has the stuff to carry a film as an action star (and also the action director). The answer is yes. He has amazing martial arts chops and he handles the quiet squinty stuff well enough.

It also helps that Pham has a worthy primary sparring partner in Simon Kook (who previously appeared in
Ip Man 3). Frankly, kook has a menacingly look that really stands out as Vong Akork. Ba Rang’s chief henchman. Ironically, Kook might get even more career momentum out of Foggy Mountain, but if so, it will be deserved.

In fact, both martial artists kick, elbow, knee, and grapple with tremendous skill and intensity. As the action director, Pham choreographs some brutally realistic but still eye-poppingly cinematic fight sequences. The only reason to watch this film is the martial arts, but Pham, Kook, and the rest of the cast and stunt crew do not disappoint—including Le Thao and Truong Dinh Hoang, as the village teacher and Phi’s final opponent in the ring.

So, if you are in the mood for some gritty Muay Thai-flavored beatdowns, Pham and company deliver, over and over again. If you are looking for anything else in movie, you won’t find it here. Recommended for fans looking for the next big martial arts star (which could well be Pham or Kook),
The Foggy Mountain releases this Tuesday (2/6) on digital.

(Art: Well Go USA)