Sunday, August 2, 2020

Hai Phuong/Furie

Movie Name: Hai Phuong/Furie
Year of Release: 2019
Director: Le-Van Kiet 
Starring: Van Veronica Ngo, Mai Cat Vi, Thanh Nhien Phan, Hoa Thanh, Pham Anh Khoa, Kim Long Thach, Khanh Ngoc Mai
Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5 

Synopsis and Review:
Vietnamese director (and California based) Le-Van Kiet has steadily been making a name for himself with a series of films that he has directed in his native country. His latest, "Hai Phuong/Furie", follows the story of Hai Phuong, a single mother currently working as a debt collector in a small rural area. Hai works diligently so her daughter can go to school, however the young girl is bullied for the fact that she has no father, ultimately always making her feel like a fish out of water. When she gets taken, Hai desperately pursues the captors, but they manage to get away in the direction of Ho Chi Minh City. Hai's past includes a stint in that city, where she worked in a club, something that changed when she became pregnant. Hai stops at nothing to come to the big city, and while reporting the disappearance of her daughter to the police, she discovers they have a comprehensive investigation taking place in regards to the disappearance of children, who are being sold for their organs. Making use of her martial arts skills, Hai goes up against a well organized gang, led by the ferocious Thanh Wolf.
"Hai Phuong/Furie" has been compared to Pierre Morel's "Taken", since it also tackles the abduction of a loved one, upon which the rage of the progenitor goes unstopped, overcoming all obstacles in order to retrieve the offspring. While "Taken" of course has its action in Paris, "Hai Phuong" takes place in Vietnam, and the focus of the story is on Hai and her relationship with Mai, her daughter. Also Hai's past is initially shrouded in secrecy, and as the narrative unfolds, we get more information on how she gained her skills, her past and how she found herself in the rural area where she and her daughter live. The initial set up allows for the characters to be slightly built, but the film quickly morphs into elaborate action and fighting sequences. The film is essentially a polished B-movie film, with tints from Charles Bronson's "Death Wish" series, but told from a female point of view, while also providing further insight into the cosmopolitan life of Ho Chi Minh City, and its claustrophobic alleyways. Van Veronica Ngo dominates the film with her resilience and strength, while also giving the character enough vulnerability to make her relatable and human. It's fairly entertaining to warrant a viewing.