If “The Room” impresario Tommy Wiseau had been given the opportunity to make an action film, the result would still have been more entertaining than the egregiously nonsensical and amateurish “Showdown in Manila.”
A crass shoot-em-up that only Rodrigo Duterte could love, it harks back to a simpler time when Arnold Schwarzenegger’s physique, accent and AK-47 prowess were enough, except that this year’s model — growling Russian bodybuilder Alexander Nevsky, playing a private eye named Nick — mostly looks like he might be more disinterested than you. And he produced it.
Oblivious to even faking buddy-movie chemistry with his horndog partner (Casper Van Dien), or making his lines intelligible, Nevsky is on the hunt for a terrorist (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) whose jungle whereabouts mean hiring commando pals played by stars of the late-night-cable jags of your past, including Don “The Dragon” Wilson and a purple-haired (so much for all the camo wear!) Cynthia Rothrock.
But with all the martial arts expertise in front of and behind the camera — the director is actor-kung fu champion Mark Dacascos — this is a visually inept, nonexciting slog, from the dialogue scenes in which the image shakes because one assumes the camera operators were laughing, to the action shots that you would have re-staged if you were just filming your pets at home. Somewhere, Steven Seagal is jealous that someone’s making lazier time-wasters than he is.
‘Showdown in Manila’
Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills