Monday, 25 Mar 2019
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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Why is a Vietnamese movie accepted in US, Canadian theaters?

Updated at Monday, 11 Mar 2019, 06:01
The Hanoitimes - Hai Phuong or Furie is one of the rare, authentic cinematic examples where execution trumps originality.
"Hai Phuong” or “Furie” has become the first Vietnamese film to be released in the US, receiving significant compliments from movie-goers and critics. 
 
Poster of Hai Phuong - Furie. Photo: Young Folks
Poster of Hai Phuong - Furie. Photo: Young Folks
“Furie” debuted in Vietnam on February 22, 2019 and brought about VND135 billion (US$5.87 million) after two weeks. The box office is estimated to exceed VND150 billion (US$6.72 million) in the domestic market and makes the movie among the top three all-time box office successes in Vietnam. 
 
“Furie” has caught public attention amid the domination of romantic and comedy genres (rom-com) in Vietnamese theaters for years. 
 
Screening schedule in the US. Photo: Wells Go USA
Screening schedule in the US. Photo: Wells Go USA
“Furie” is set for a limited US release by Wells Go USA Entertainment in 14 theaters across the US on March 1 and March 8, 2019 and in three big cities of Canada namely Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver from March 8 to March 15, 2019. 
 
The box office revenue for the first three days reached US$145,400, a pretty high amount for a limited-release foreign movie in the US, compared to US$124,000 of South Korea's Burning last year.  
 
According to Studio 68, the producer is in negotiations to sell the movie to other international markets and Netflix, the world’s leading internet entertainment service with 130 million memberships in over 190 countries. 
 
Great efforts 
 
In Furie, Vietnamese star Ngo Thanh Van (Veronica Ngo) pulls double duties as producer and star in the film, directed by Le Van Kiet, a Vietnamese-American director and Kefi Abrikh serving as action choreographer. Kefi Abrikh is known for his work on Hollywood movies namely Jason Bourne (2016), Lucy (2014), and Dunkirk (2017), Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018). 
 
The film also receives contributions from Yannick Ben, a multi-talented person performing spectacular stunts in Hollywood films like Jason Bourne, Spectre, Lucy, Dunkirk, and Mission Impossible 6. 
 
Le Van Kiet would bring Hollywood to Vietnam with his knowledge gleaned from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He said that he seeks to broaden view of Vietnam with “Furie”. 
 
A scene in Furie. Photo: Studio68
A scene in Furie. Photo: Studio68
“Furie”: When a little girl is kidnapped by a trafficking ring, they soon find they messed with the wrong child. Her mother, a notorious former gang leader, is close on their trail and will go to any lengths to bring her child home.
 
The 98-minutes movie in orginal language of Vietnamese and English subtitle of action, adventure, and martial arts will take your breath away with real scenes of fighting between a mother of a kidnapped daugther and an abductor. 
 
The movie draws you to a world of immortal motherhood and struggles against evils.  
 
Good remarks 
 
The movie has got positive remarks from American critics. 
 
Cary Darling, one of top critics in the US, who writes about arts, entertainment and pop culture, with an emphasis on film and media, said that Veronica Ngo is the explosively charismatic star of the head-cracking, bone-breaking Vietnamese martial-arts slam-o-rama “Furie,” perhaps the most entertaining film of its type since “The Raid 2: Berendal” blasted out of Indonesia five years ago. 
 
He added that the next time Jennifer Garner wants to do an action movie like the flavorless “Peppermint,” she could take a few lessons from Veronica Ngo. 
 
He predicted that along with the Philippine action film “Buy Bust” starring Anne Curtis last year, “Furie” shows that the future of Asian martial-arts movies just may well be female. He said “But don’t be surprised if Hollywood comes pounding on the doors of both Kiet and Ngo pretty quickly.”
 
A scene in Furie. Photo: IMDB
A scene in Furie. Photo: IMDB
Nathanael Hood from The Young and Folks said that “Furie” is one of the rare, authentic cinematic examples where execution trumps originality. The fighting, centered on the native Vovinam and overseen by Kefi Abrikh and Yannick Ben Haddou, is marvelous. The director also has an eye for thrilling set pieces — the most exciting being a chase scene at the end of the first act that begins on foot, then on bikes, then on boats and back on bikes.
 
Frank Swietek from One Guy’s Opinion: “Furie” hardly breaks new ground: it’s just an unimaginative action flick, a “Taken” clone with a female protagonist. But Ngo is a strong heroine, and her kick-ass skill will make it a hit with genre fans.
 
A scene in Furie. Photo: Studio68
A scene in Furie. Photo: Studio68
Alex Lines from Film Inquiry said: In the midst of huge surge of major genre titles emerging from Indonesia, China, and South Korea, “Furie” proves to be a refreshing entry from Vietnam, and an equally exhilarating showcase of Veronica Ngo’s undeniable talent. “I’d happily call this Vietnam’s answer to The Raid, a captivating thriller that is bound to entertain any action fan – or those wanting to satisfy their bloodbath cravings before John Wick Chapter 3 comes out this summer.”
 
A scene in Furie. Photo: Studio68
A scene in Furie. Photo: Studio68
Douglas Davidson from Elements of Madness: Kiet manages to pour on the tension without succumbing to nonsensical escalation, keeping the whole of “Furie” feeling personal and intimate.
 
Rob Hunter from Film School Rejects exclaimed that the fights obviously impress, but even the more peaceful moments captivate thanks to sharp cinematography. The bright and lush greens of rural Vietnam are simply gorgeous, and the electric-lit cityscape does its best to compete.
 
Meanwhile, Gary Hamilton of Arclight Films stated: “The appetite for female-led action films and for thriller genre fare is very strong in the international marketplace. Veronica Ngo, the star of Furie, is one of Vietnam’s biggest stars right now making massive international waves. This film is the next Raid and is a real hidden gem…”
 
Arclight is handling the international sales for the film which will be presented at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival.
 
Meanwhile, Asian Film Strike wrote that “Beautiful displays of hard-hitting grace.” 
 
Ngo Thanh Van’s filmography
 
Ngo Thanh Van, actress, singer, model, and producer, is known to many Americans from her stints in Netflix’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny” and as Paige Tico – the brief but pivotal role in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” in 2017, her streaming into millions of homes as a badass elf in Netflix’s Bright. 
 
She has starred different genres including action and non-action, with the role in “Dong Mau Anh Hung” (The Rebel) in 2007 and “Bay Rong” (Clash) in 2009, “Tam Cam – Chuyen bay gio moi ke” (Once Upon a Time in Vietnam) in 2013. 
Linh Pham
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