Nowadays, in comparison to a decade ago, the film industry in Vietnam has greatly advanced. Thanks to open-door policies from the government and endless efforts from faithful staff that bring about considerable improvement in equipment and qualifications of directors and actors, Vietnam can now be proud of films that have gained international recognition such as “The Buffalo Boy”, “Don’t Burn” and “The Rebel”. These works, with their high value in humanity and pleasing effects, mark the milestones for the young industry.
The Buffalo Boy
The Buffalo Boy (Mùa len trâu in Vietnamese, Le Gardien des Buffles in French) is a 2004 film directed by Minh Nguyen-Vo. The movie was the official entry from Vietnam for Best Foreign Language Film category at the 78th Academy Awards.
Plot summary: Set along the southern coast of Vietnam during the French occupation in the 1940s, water is everywhere, giving life and bringing decay and rot. Kim is 15; his father and step-mother have two buffalo, their lifeline as subsistence rice farmers. During the rainy season, there’s no grass and the buffalo are starving. Kim volunteers to take the beasts inland to find food. On this coming-of-age journey, Kim sees men mistreat women, men fight with men, and French taxes rob the poor. He works for Lap, a buffalo herder whose past is entangled with Kim’s parents, and he makes friends who will lead him to his place in the world.
(Picture from: http://www.yxine.com/poster/1241131161dungdot.jpg)
(Đừng đốt in Vietnamese) Directed by pre-eminent Vietnamese film maker Ðặng Nhật Minh, the film is based on the published diary of Dr Đặng Thùy Trâm. The diary became a best-seller in Vietnam, published as Nhật kỳ Đặng Thùy Trâm, and has been much acclaimed in translation as Last Night I Dreamed of Peace.
Plot summary: “Don’t Burn” is the story of a female doctor, Đặng Thùy Trâm, from Hanoi. During the war, she headed an infirmary in a war-ravaged area where, according to her diary, “death can be easier than having a meal.” The diary returned to her family by an American veteran, document her love for people, her burning longings for her family and relatives, and her dreams about peace. This war diary has the strength to bring people of different colors and political viewpoints closer. It is a rarity. If one can call this film propaganda, it must be propaganda about the love among human beings.” Recently, “Dung dot” won the Fukuoka Audience Award at the 2009 Fukuoka International Film Festival. (From: https://staffweb.lib.washington.edu/news/won/won-articles/thung-thot-don2019t-burn-it-film-and-discussion-november-10 and http://www.saigon-gpdaily.com.vn/Culture_Art/2009/9/74691/)
(Picture from http://24usd.com/images/1915.jpg)
The Rebel (Dòng máu anh hùng in Vietnamese) is a 2007 Vietnamese martial arts film directed by Charlie Nguyen and starring Johnny Tri Nguyen and Dustin Nguyen.
Plot Summary: Vietnam in 1922 is under colonial French ruling, and anti-French rebellions by peasants have emerged all over the country. In response, the French have activated units of Vietnamese secret agents to track and destroy the rebels. One agent is Le Van Cuong. Although branded with a perfect track record, Cuong’s inner conscience is troubled by the sea of Vietnamese blood he has spilled. Following an assassination of a high ranking French official, Cuong is assigned to seek and kill the notorious leader of the resistance. Cuong encounters Vo Thanh Thuy, a relentless revolutionary fighter and the daughter of the rebel leader. She is captured and imprisoned by Cuong’s cruel superior, Sy. Cuong suspects that Sy knew about the attack on the French official before it happened, and could have prevented it. Suspicious, he warns Thuy that her organization has a mole, helps break her out of prison and becomes a fugitive himself. Her fiery patriotism inspires Cuong, and he develops feelings for the young woman as well. Meanwhile, Sy is tracking Cuong and Thuy, knowing the pair will lead him to Thuy’s father. It premiered on April 12, 2007 at the Vietnamese International Film Festival in Irvine, California. It was released on April 27, 2007 in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and played as the Closing Night film at the 2007 VC FilmFest in Los Angeles. It was also featured at the 2007 Bangkok International Film Festival, the Austin Film Festival, the Hawaii International Film Festival, and was the Opening Night screening at the 2007 Mammoth Film Festival.
Nonetheless, it comes as an obvious fact that such a young and immature industry has met obstacles. Inexperience and hastiness have led to numerous pieces which are superficially made and sloppily conveyed. Following ever-changing curiosity of the crowd, some directors as well as producers have given the true audience a real chance to think and judge after watching their ill-cared movies. Talking about the content, there are films which are xenomaniac. That means everything seen was borrowed from other countries, from clothing, hair, manners, background…to plots, situations, dialogs, music.
Mùi ngò gai
(Picture from http://188.8.131.52/MuiNgoGai.gif)
“Mùi ngò gai” fell short of viewers’ expectation when appearing to be a Korean product, presenting neither traditional nor practical values.
Song: Dòng Thời Gian – Đoàn Phi (Mùi ngò gai OST)
Song: Saldaga – SG Wannabe (the original Korean version)
(Why do we have to borrow everything, from scenario to soundtrack?)
Giải cứu Thần Chết
Do Vietnamese students wear uniform like this?
High School Musical (Vietnam version)
(Pictures from: http://phimanh.vnexpress.net/News/Tin-tuc/2009/01/3B9B02A6/)
Others emphasized on sensitive aspects to attract moviegoers, lacking in depths of meaning. “Chuông reo là bắn” with sexuality, “Trai nhảy” with homosexuality were merely amusing that stayed in the mind no longer than a few minutes after the end. About acting, the number of amateur actors is increasing. Not academically trained, they are cast for their popularity in singing or modeling and of course, they can hardly fulfill the roles with emotionless face and awkward gestures which make scenes a stage for physical beauty (and that of sponsors, too).
Chuông reo là bắn
Some of (A LOT) unnecessary hot scenes in the film
Advertising scenes for sponsors 😀
Enormous profits from such movies have reflected the low taste of the majority, or more specific, the young. They often thoughtlessly imitate foreigners, denying their own culture and customs. Often lamely comparing Vietnamese films to that of Western countries or Korea, they prefer actions, guns, cars, hot scenes and campy stories to familiar, close-to-heart themes in their homeland. They, as the most active and rather entertainment-demanding class, cast inarguable impact upon the industry. To meet their likings, films have to ape and mix with non-traditional styles that can turn out to be a mess with manifold illogicalities and impertinence. It is under no debate that there are many things to learn from other lands, nevertheless, it will be more beneficial if new techniques, understanding and view-points come with good selection and adaptation. On the other hand, Vietnamese classics like “Đất rừng phương nam” have been loved for years for native-ness and truthfulness, not an iota for exotic-ness.
Đất Phương Nam
(The soundtracks of this film are very stunning but I cannot upload these songs to my entry. >_< )
In spite of deficiencies, recent development in the film industry of Vietnam cannot be disacknowledged. More and more works are produced each year, performances get better and better, international film festivals are more attended, and, what is most important, more and more attentions are paid through either praises or criticisms. There are no less people who do care about the seventh art of Vietnam than ones who just enjoy nonsense or worship money. To put Vietnam on the map of filmmaking, enthusiasm and perseverance from filmmakers as well as encouragement and appreciation from the audience are all require, which, ultimately, must transcend.
Name: Lê Nguyễn Quỳnh Tiên
Student ID: BAAU09313
[Waiting for your comments. ^^]