HA NOI (VNS)— Overseas Vietnamese actor Dustin Nguyen has gotten behind the camera for the first time to direct Once Upon A Time in Vietnam, a film expected to be the first fantasy-action epic in Vietnamese cinema.
|Tough critic: Dustin Nguyen (right) and Roger Yuan prepare for a martial arts performance.— Photo courtesy BHD Studio
Nguyen, who also wrote the screenplay and co-stars in the film, is currently shooting the film in HCM City and the central coastal city of Phan Thiet in Binh Thuan Province. The film is being produced by Viet Film Studio and was made with the participation of Hollywood martial arts actor Roger Yuan and Thai-American cinematography Wych Kaos.
In the film, Nguyen plays the role of a mysterious stranger who is enlisted by a baker (Yuan) and a group of villagers being terrorised by a crime boss. Despite his extensive experience in international cinema, Yuan found the baker role in Once Upon A Time in Vietnam to be a linguistic challenge. He studied Vietnamese for only two weeks before filming began and needed to learn a lot of his Vietnamese dialogue by ear.
"It was difficult to learn much Vietnamese in such a short time," said Yuan. "I tried my best to understand the script because it helped me with my performance."
Nguyen hopes the martial arts action in Once Upon A Time in Vietnam will please Vietnamese audiences. Beside gathering talented actors, the film promises fantastic settings and costumes.
"The film looks like Western cowboy films, and the costumes in the film needed to be made from special materials," said costume designer Tran Chi Bao.
Nguyen has established himself as one of Hollywood's premiere Asian-American actors, having starred on such hit television shows as 21 Jump Street and Seaquest DSV, as well as in feature films. He landed the much-coveted starring role in the critically-acclaimed Little Fish opposite Academy Award-winner Cate Blanchett, while his role in The Legend Is Alive earned him two major awards, Golden Lotus Award and the Golden Kite Award. He also received China's Golden Rooster for Favourite International Actor for this role.
Nguyen began working on the script for the new film in 2008 with a view to making the first fantasy-action epic in Vietnamese.
The finished film is slated for release in August next year. — VNS