China Salesman review by Bobby Blakey
I am not ashamed to admit that I have been a fan of Steven Seagal since he burst onto the scene with Above the Law in 1988. I know his films these days are more hit than miss, but every so often one comes along worth checking out so I always give him a try. His latest, China Salesman features him in more of a glorified cameo role alongside Mike Tyson and Dong-Xue Li, but does it offer up the action fans want or will it be another missed throw for the Aikido Master?
China Salesman follows the dangerous and epic adventure to Africa where a Chinese engineer/salesman comes face-to-face with a corrupt competitor over the contract for the first African mobile telecom technology. Local tribesman Kabbah and mercenary Lauder get drawn into the conflict in a classic, brutal hand-to-hand fight while the entire country faces civil war battles. There is so much to say about this movie and sadly very little of it is good. I so wanted to love this film just for the sheer chance to see Tyson and Seagal fight, but it is so all over the place it becomes a struggle to get through sometimes. As mentioned Seagal is more of a cameo with a couple of scenes including the fight with Tyson I was hoping for, but is so early in the film that you have nothing to look forward to later. The fight itself is ok at best with Tyson doing a great job at showcasing his power against multiple opponents before not only taking on Seagal, but b eating him which I know is kind of a spoiler, but is so meaningless to the rest of the film I doubt it will matter. Seagal does a decent jow with the fighting here against Tyson as well, but it didn’t have the quality that I had hoped for like when Tyson took on Donnie Yen in Ip Man 3.
The majority of the film focuses on the Chinese Salesman played by Dong-Xue Li who does a fine job, but I was a bit confused to how much this ‘salesman’ was able to survive through. This is billed as a true story and has clearly taken liberties to amp up the action and over the top nature of a lot of what goes on here. I am sure the African telecom market was cutthroat at the time of this occurring but the level of violence and death associated with it was hard to fully buy into here even if it was true. The story is over the top and of them all Tyson offers up the most over the top performance of them all. He is great with the action, but his line delivery here was more like a stereotypical Kung Fu flick from the 70s. I am not sure if it was on purpose or not, but it is pretty funny.
Tyson’s over the top performance offers up a fun villain throughout the film, but it just never fully cements to why. He is doing computer hacking, surveillance, driving tanks and just about anything else you can imagine all to stop a cell phone hook-up. In the end this movie offers up a ton of fun action, but it is so laughable at times you never fully take it seriously. I cannot lie that I still had fun seeing what little Seagal there was, especially the opening fight with Tyson, but outside of that it doesn’t offer up much else that stands out. Decide for yourself and check out China Salesman when it hits Blu-ray, DVD and VOD on June 26th from MVD Visual and Cleopatra Entertainment.