|Packing a punch: A fight scene from Lục Vân Tiên: Tuyệt Đỉnh Kungfu (Lục Vân Tiên: Kungfu Hustle. — Photo thegioidienanh|
by Nguyễn Thúy Bình
Road trip comedy Chạy Đi Rồi Tính (Lost In Sài Gòn) is the first movie to entertain Vietnamese movie buffs on the occasion of Tết (Lunar New Year), one of the two busiest seasons for the Vietnamese film industry.
Launched at the end of last month, nearly a month before the first day of the Lunar New Year, the movie is being screened with English subtitles nationwide. The movie is the second production by directors Namcito and Bảo Nhân.
"We decided to release Lost In Sài Gòn earlier because we wouldn’t have to compete fiercely with many other Vietnamese movies and foreign blockbusters as well during Tết," said director Bảo Nhân. "I am seeing in Tết releases this year."
Lost in Sài Gòn is the story of bar singer Phương Trinh, who decides to sell her wedding ring because of a poor life with her husband - a soybean milk seller, and her 12-year old son. Her family and a gang of robbers clash in a jewelry shop. Accidentally, the son records an image of the robbers and then the gang begins hunting for the three-member family.
|Scenic scene: A still from Rừng Xanh Kỳ Lạ Truyện (Magical Forest) produced by Sóng Vàng Studio. — Photo film crew facebook|
More than a half of the film’s 100 minutes is devoted to scenes featuring escapes. But the deeper meaning is that the trip is also an escape for the wife and the husband. The singer-wife wants an escape from her poverty-stricken life, which as been an obsession since childhood, while the husband escapes, at least momentarily, from the fact that their relation is getting worse.
Hứa Vĩ Văn and Diễm My play the roles of the husband and wife respectively. Lost in Sài Gòn also features comedian Việt Hương and veteran singer Bảo Yến. Songs in movie are performed by Hồ Quỳnh Hương.
This is the second collaboration between the directors and movie crew, including the actors and singers. Their first one, Gái Già Lắm Chiêu (The Last Egg) was released early this year.
The husband’s role also changes the image of heartthrob Hứa Vĩ Văn. He had to stop exercising to look like the poor husband.
The movies slated for Tết release include Bạn Gái Tôi Là Sếp (She is The Boss); Lục Vân Tiên: Tuyệt Đỉnh Kungfu (Lục Vân Tiên: Kungfu Hustle); Rừng Xanh Kỳ Lạ Truyện (Magical Forest) and Nàng Tiên Có 5 Nhà (The Pretty Woman).
|Tiff: Actress Miu Lê and actor Đỗ An in Bạn Gái Tôi Là Sếp (She is The Boss). — Photo film crew facebook|
Contrary to early launch of Lost In Sài Gòn, She is The Boss by director Hàm Trần will be delayed until February 3 (the seventh day of Lunar New Year). This is the fourth movie by Vietnamese American director Hàm Trần. Last year, his Siêu Trộm (Bitcoin Heist) failed to make an impression at the box office.
She is The Boss is a remake of ATM: Er Rak Error, Thailand’s seventh top grossing-film of all time. The romantic comedy is expected to entertain a large audience. Last year, Em Là Bà Nội Của Anh (Sweet 20), remake of a South Korean production, was a money-spinner during the long holiday.
Director Hàm Trần and producers Galaxy M&E are hoping She is The Boss will be a hit, with celebrities Miu Lê and Đỗ An starring in it. Miu Lê was a part of Sweet 20, the highest-grossing Vietnamese movie. Đỗ An is a businessman and also famous as model Lê Thúy’s husband.
In 90 minutes, audiences will follow a love story between a bank staff and his boss who are always arguing at work,
Lục Vân Tiên: Kungfu Hustle is the first movie by actor-turned-director Hoàng Phúc. His wife is the producer. The movie is based on Lục Vân Tiên, the 19th century epic of the same name by Nguyễn Đình Chiểu. It is also a love story, between the poor but talented Lục Vân Tiên and wealthy girl Kiều Nguyệt Nga. The movie follows Lục Vân Tiên who finds himself in modern day Việt Nam in search of his true love.
Phúc has cast overseas Vietnamese actor Andy Long in the main role. Andy Long is best known as a member of the legendary Jackie Chan Stunt Team in movies like CZ12 Chinese Zodiac; Police Story 2013 and Dragon Blade.
|Back to the future: Vietnamese-German Andy Long plays the leading role in action-comedy Lục Vân Tiên: Tuyệt Đỉnh Kungfu (Lục Vân Tiên: Kungfu Hustle). — Photo maactioncinema.com|
The action-comedy also stars model Diệp Lâm Anh, Kim Tuyến and veteran artist Thành Lộc.
Local reports say that costumes used in the movie are likely to be talking point among the audience. Director Phúc has paid a lot of attention to it, having about 12 sets of áo dài (traditional dress) designed for Kiều Nguyệt Nga, and taking more than two months to design the wardrobe for Lục Vân Tiên.
"I added some details to the film to make it contemporary, but the story’s significance about the power of true love, bravery and justice is eternal," said Phúc, who also wrote the script.
"I spent VNĐ12 billion (US$538,000) on the film to ensure production quality."
The director signed up local martial artists to co-ordinate the movie’s fight scenes to make them authentic. "I believe my film will bring true scenes and beautiful images of the Vietnamese landscape to audiences," Phúc said, adding that it was shot in Bình Phước, Bà Rịa - Vũng Tàu and Long An provinces.
The movie will be released nationwide on January 28 (first day of the Lunar New Year) in Lotte Cinema.
Another actor-turned-director, Khương Ngọc, is in the race for the best movie of the season. His second movie is a comic fantasy, Rừng Xanh Kỳ Lạ Truyện (Magical Forest), produced by the Sóng Vàng (Golden Waves) studio.
The movie is about a man who lives in a forest with mysterious creatures. From its trailer, it appears to be a Vietnamese version of Tarzan. The film stars Meritorious Artist Hoài Linh and famous comedians Thu Trang and Tiến Luật.
"To present our ideas on screen, we’ve use new filming technologies," Ngọc said.
A Sóng Vàng spokeperson said a lot of money has been spent on 3D effects for the movie. It will be launched on January 20 nationwide.
Nàng Tiên Có 5 Nhà (A Pretty Woman), also a comedy, is a production by veteran Trần Ngọc Giàu. A young, beautiful girl (Khả Ngân), who aims to ’manage’ four rich men at the same time.
The movie, carrying English subtitles will be released on January 27.
This year’s Tết provides films diverse in both theme and form.
However, whether or not these films succeed depends only partially on their content. Approximately 50 per cent of a film’s success depends on its marketing campaign. Only BHD for one, has been actively marketing the film Lost In Sài Gòn before and during showing time. It has even organised a photo exhibition on the film’s production, set up film background with about 100 stuffed sheep for audiences to take photos, and published a photo book on behind-the-scenes tales. — VNS