Kungfu Pho, a new action comedy will be released throughout the country this Friday by Skyline Media Ltd Company. Culture Vulture talks to director Nguyen Quoc Duy about the movie:
The title Kungfu Pho seems alluring. What makes it special?
It, of course, must showcase both "kungfu" and pho (beef noodle). The main theme is the higher kungfu skill a cook possesses, the more delicious pho he can prepare. "Kungfu" here covers everything from martial arts, hard training in processing pho's broth and above all – the capability to sense flavours and smell.
The film narrates a fight for secret of cooking pho between two families, who are descendants of martial arts master Van Cu, as well as a tragic love story of a couple, of the two rival families. The story happens in the past and continues into the present time. It's a fantasy, so we don't have to fix it in any specific timeframe.
What is special about "comedy" and "martial arts" factors in the movie?
Kungfu and martial arts in the film have been inspired by traditional beef noodle. For example, you will see in the film a scene of martial artists fighting one another in an arena of French-colonial era full of cooking tools bigger than their real size; or a scene of martial arts practice on giant wheels surrounded with boiling water sauces; or a scene of kungfu practice on giant saucepans.
All martial arts postures engage with the traditional dish, fighting scenes with bowls, noodle and chopsticks.
Stuntman group AXN practice martial arts scenes that are not similar to those in Hongkong or mainland Chinese films.
All action phases in Kungfu Pho are associated with funny situations.
Could you tell me a little bit about the original script? What have you done to turn it into an action comedy?
I have to say that the original script contained 50 per cent of literature descriptions. I had to rewrite the scenes, describe them in a language of images and create concrete situations. I have cut the original 120 scenes into 72 with fewer dialogues and more martial arts practice actions as well as humorous situations.
Scripts of action films and action comedies are always challenges for Vietnamese playwrights and directors to deal with. The difficult thing is also how to make an interesting film on an affordable budget.
Kungfu Pho will not be a blockbuster movie, yet mixing humorous situations with action scenes has been already a challenge to our team.
Are you really interested in exploiting martial arts?
Not totally. It's not my interest area, just a way of making a movie. Many directors now focus on funny situations and invite comedians to act in their films.
Audiences like comedies, so what should you do if you have a script in your hands and no top comedians in your team?
The only way is turning the script into an action and comedy at the same time. Watching Kungfu Pho, you will laugh loudly at the acting by actors and actresses who are not best comedians at all, like Linh Son, Diem My 9X, My Duyen, Tien Pham, Hoang Phuc, and Mai Son.
Will you continue with kungfu and comedy?
My first movie Cot Moc 23 (Milestone 23) is also a comedy. I think I'm more suitable for action and comedy movies. Yet I want to test myself with tragedy and drama. I have two more action movie scripts and one drama, which I have worked on for five years already, and am just waiting for suitable producers and investors. — VNS