Viet Nam News -
HÀ NỘI — Cường Ngô, born in 1978, lives in Canada. He has directed various films appreciated at home and abroad. His short film The Golden Pin (2009) won Best Canadian Short at the Toronto Inside Out Film & Video Festival. His feature film Pearls of the Far East won many awards in the US, Canada and Việt Nam. He desired to make high-quality action movies to compete with cinemas in other regional countries. Tracer invested in its actors, actresses, special effects and martial arts to create a unique Vietnamese action movie.
Inner Sanctum: Can you reveal a little about the film content and the message you want to send to the audience?
The film features Nguyễn An An, a female detective who infiltrates a dangerous gang in order to get close to the kingpin, Lộc Sói, a drug trafficker. An and her comrade fight hard to bring the gang to justice.
Eagle-eyed viewers would see a villainous crime lord trying to make mischief in the Vietnamese underworld.
Through the film, we want to portray narcotics police, and the dangers they face while conducting investigations. The drug traffickers always resist cruelly at the cost of their lives when police are in pursuit, because they know they would get the death penalty if they were caught. We want audiences to understand narcotics police’s hard work.
Inner Sanctum: What will bring audiences to the cinema to see this film?
I think it’s the beautiful action shots that we worked carefully to create. In this thriller, audiences will watch the characters escape difficult situations, and the oppressive clash between police and criminals. The martial arts performances with guns, cudgels, bows, katanas (Japanese swords) and bare hands look very realistic with guidance from fighting choreographer Trung Lý, who is well-known in Australia. He has experience with many action movies such as Fists of the Dragon and Hit Girls.
I also selected beautiful places at which to shoot the film. The chasing scene on motorbikes between An An and Phượng Lửa, Lộc Sói’s sister, is shot on red-soil paths in the Central Highlands city of Đà Lạt. The paths are surrounded by pine forests, mountains and a gulf that make the situation thrilling. A fight with katanas is set in the Gem Centre in HCM City. We made the space totally Japanese to suit the katana fight.
I focused on selecting contexts for the film because the good scenes would inspire actors and audiences, as well as making the scenes more lively.
Last but not least, the film gathers famous names from Vietnamese actors such as Trương Ngọc Ánh and Vĩnh Thụy, and foreign cinema such as Lamou Vissay, Cường Seven, Maria Trần, Thiên Nguyễn and Marcus Guilhem. They are all experienced in action films. Maria Trần is a professional cascadeur in Australia who took part in The Quest, Hit Girls and Fists of the Dragon. Meanwhile, Lamou Vissay has worked extensively in Europe.
Inner Sanctum: The trailer for Tracer depicts many action shots in which actors perform beautiful martial arts. Can you tell me a memorable story about making these action scenes?
To make this action-packed film, the actors tried hard to bring truthful emotions to the audience. Trung Lý required much out of them. Some action scenes had to be repeated again and again until he felt they were smooth.
My artistic vision is mixed with thrilling fights by stunt choreographer Trung Lý to put plenty of high-octane action in the movie.
When Thiên Nguyễn plunged through a glass door in one scene, he was determined to do it without a stuntman. The scene was a success. We worriedly asked him if he felt fine. And he said, “Yes, yes, I’m okay.” Suddenly, we realised he was bleeding, as his white shirt turned red. The doctor took many glass pieces out of his skin. With his passion for the film, Thiên forgot himself and the pain, indeed.
Inner Sanctum: You have co-operated with foreign producers and actors. What have you learned from them?
There are two genres existing together in Việt Nam and foreign countries: art and entertainment films. The directors are completely wrapped up in finding materials and inspiration for their films. I learned from them the serious attitude at work. Only passion and whole-hearted effort can bring me to reach my goals.
Many Australian and American directors find inspiration from literary works of Asian countries and they succeed. As a director with Vietnamese roots, I expect that one day, I can make a blockbuster with a script adapted from Vietnamese literature as reading was my passion when I was a child.
Tracer is typical of how contemporary films from Việt Nam are becoming more commercially savvy, challenging stereotypes and engaging record numbers of viewers. — VNS