Film producer and actress Ngô Thanh Vân achieved great success last year with the martial arts film Hai Phượng (Furie), the highest-grossing Vietnamese film of all time, earning more than VNĐ200 billion (US$8.6 million) in ticket sales in domestic and foreign markets. Photo courtesy of producer
Veteran actress Ngô Thanh Vân, Việt Nam’s leading action star, made her big comeback last year with a huge hit seen in the country and abroad, while Mỹ Tâm, long known in Việt Nam as the Queen of Pop, caught the attention of fans in her new role as actress. Phương Mai reports
In her role as producer and actress, Vân, known as Veronica Ngô, was instrumental to the success of the last year's martial arts film Hai Phượng (Furie), the highest-grossing Vietnamese movie of all time.
The movie, which was about motherhood, earned VNĐ200 billion (US$8.6 million) in ticket sales in domestic and foreign markets.
Vân, who is the owner of Studio 68, one of the country’s leading private film studios, first developed the idea for the film's kidnapping theme four years ago and then wrote about seven scripts. She later worked with the film’s director Lê Văn Kiệt to complete the script in two years.
“Kiệt's strengths are in cinematic structure and formats that use American film styles,” said Vân, who played the leading role, a female ex-gangster named Hai Phượng
In the film, the character Hai Phượng lives a quiet life with her daughter in the countryside until the little girl is abducted. Phượng then decides that she will stop at nothing to rescue her child.
Distributed by Well Go USA Entertainment, the film was shown in 600 cinemas in US cities such as Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, San Jose, Portland, Seattle and New York.
At the 92nd Academy Awards in the US, it was the Vietnamese entry in the Best International Feature Film category.
Besides Hai Phượng (Furie), Vân was also the producer for another hit movie, Song Lang (The Tap Box), about cải lương (reformed opera).
Directed by Leon Lê, the film features a group of cải lương artists in Sài Gòn who face challenges in the 1980s to preserve the special art form. It starred young actors Liên Bỉnh Phát and Issac.
Song Lang won five Golden Lotus awards for Vân at the 21st Việt Nam National Film Festival in Bà Rịa - Vũng Tàu Province in December, including best feature film and best director.
The film also won top prizes at numerous local and international film festivals, including the Golden Kite Awards presented by the Việt Nam Film Association, ASEAN International Film Festival and Awards, and Sharm El-Sheikh Asian Film Festival.
“Movies are my true love,” Vân said.
The 42-year-old began her acting career with one of the leading roles in Rouge, a 13-part TV series broadcast on MTV Asia and directed by renowned Singaporean director Jonathan Foo.
She later took part in several movies in Việt Nam and abroad, including Dòng Máu Anh Hùng (The Rebel) in 2006, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword Dynasty in 2016, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi in 2017.
In 2015, Vân began working in film production with the fantasy movie Ngày Nảy Ngày Nay (The Lost Dragon).
She has produced a number of movies, including Tấm Cám: Chuyện Chưa Kể (Tấm Cám: The Untold Story, Cô Ba Sài Gòn (The Tailor), Về Quê Ăn Tết (Going Home for Tết), and the latest Trạng Tí (Child Master).
Nguyễn Hồng Ân, a student at HCM City University of Culture, is a big fan of Vân’s films.
“Her films feature Vietnamese history, culture and beautiful landscapes," Ân said.
Veteran singer returns as actress
Known in Việt Nam as the Queen of Pop, Mỹ Tâm made her debut in 2019 as a producer, director, screenwriter and actress in her film Chị Trợ Lý Của Anh (My Dear Assistant!). Photo courtesy of the producer
Although pop star Mỹ Tâm has been a well-known singer for over 20 years, the country last year saw a completely new Tâm, who worked as a film producer, director, screenwriter and leading actress in the film Chị Trợ Lý Của Anh (My Dear Assistant!).
Tâm played the leading role of Khả Doanh, a beautiful and talented businesswoman who tries to save her family business by becoming an assistant for a playboy who wants her to find him a girlfriend.
The film earned VNĐ100 billion ($4.3 million) in ticket sales, but only cost VNĐ17 billion ($735,000) to make.
Tâm told local media last year that she had received "many invitations from different film producers for many years”.
“But I needed time to rest and to find inspiration. I wanted to return when I had enough energy, enthusiasm and time,” she said.
“The topic about a woman falling in love with a younger man was attractive.”
Tâm and her staff faced huge challenges during the year of filmmaking. “I lost a director before filming. I invested money in the project, so I had to be the writer, director and actress," she said.
Võ Minh Trâm of Bình Thạnh District, a big fan of Tâm, said he was very impressed with Tâm’s performance. "Her acting is mature and natural. It’s a payoff for her nonstop efforts.”
Chị Trợ Lý Của Anh received huge support from more than 2.6 million followers on Tâm’s Facebook page.
Around 5,000 copies of the film soundtrack sold in one day.
“I know my film had some mistakes, but I want to express my gratitude to my fans who are always by my side,” said Tâm, a native of Đà Nẵng Province who began her career in 1997.
Her latest album, Tâm 9, which includes 13 songs in a pop soul style, was released in late 2017. More than 5,000 copies were sold within one day after its release. More than 20,000 copies were sold in January last year.
The album ranked 10th on Billboard’s World Albums chart in the third week in January last year, based on sales data compiled by Nielsen Music, according to Billboard.com.
She is the first Vietnamese singer to be included on the Billboard list.
Tâm has won top prizes at international music award competitions, including the Best Asian Artist at the Mnet Asian Music Awards in 2012 presented by the Korean-based Mnet Television, and the Best Southeast Asia Act at MTV Europe Music Awards in 2013.
Tâm, who has released nine albums, owns the studio MT Entertainment and fashion label Nightingale. VNS