Furie – a Vietnamese martial arts action flick

Furie (Hai Phuong)

Directors: Le-Van Kiet, Van Kiet Le

Country: Vietnam

Year: 2019

One truly great thing about platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video is that you can access so many different films from various countries. Through them, Asian cinema, both new and classic, is getting a lot more exposure. For example, a few Asian cinema classics like Kung Fu Hustle and Hero, are both available on Netflix now (highly recommended!). New movies and TV series get an instant Netflix audience. This gives countries with less experience in internationally oriented high-budget cinema a chance to go big. Therefore it’s probably not surprising that my first Vietnamese movie review is for one I saw on Netflix – the martial arts action flick Furie
Van Veronica Ngo, a Vietnamese actress and producer, made it big in Hollywood and came back to her home country to star in this fast-paced action film. In the movie, she plays Hai Phuong, an ex-gangster. She used to live in the capital Ho Chi Minh but moved to the countryside for her daughter. From the get-go we can see that she’s tough – she works as a debt collector, beating people up if they don’t pay. It’s a hard job and this occupation that is frowned upon by the locals but that’s the only thing she knows how to do to make money. With her meagre income, mother and daughter live in a shack on the river. Phuong cooks poorly and she’s not a sweet mom stereotype but she loves her daughter and tried to make a better future for her. Then one day, her daughter gets kidnapped and Hai Phuong chases the kidnappers all the way to the capital. She fights her way through the cyberpunk looking Ho Chi Minh and its dark alleys to uncover a child trafficking ring. 

 Van Veronica Ngo as Hai Phuong in Furie
Van Veronica Ngo as Hai Phuong in Furie

Furie has many logical flaws and plot holes. A lot of scenes feel off (she takes down six armed guys with fist power after getting beat up so many times in the last 12 hours?), and some characters (like Detective Luong) lack coherency and motivation for their actions. However, despite these shortcomings, it is an entertaining watch. The production quality is high, action scenes are well-choreographed and performances of the main actress and her daughter Mai (Cat Vy) are great. It is also a rare film that did not idealize either the city or the countryside. The city is portrayed as usual – filthy, filled with poverty, seedy characters, incompetent cops and violent criminals. However, in the movie, the countryside is not a peaceful idyllic place either (as it was in, for example, Ong-Bak.). The people in the village are prejudice, gossipy and quick to judge. It’s an original take and potentially makes the audience side with Phuong and Mai as they have to fight to survive in a hostile world. 
If you like martial arts action movies (Raid Redemption, Ong-Bak, The Protector, Chocolate, Night Comes for Us, John Wick) then Fury will be up your alley. It is a great achievement for a country with a budding film industry. 

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