One of the newest action stars on the scene, Vietnamese-born actress Veronica Ngo broke out for American audiences with a stellar turn in the epic “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” even though she had already been a star in her native country for almost a decade before then. Her first film back after turning in that fine turn, ‘Furie’ is now available on Digital, DVD and Blu-Ray combo pack June 25th from WellGo USA.
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Working as a low-level debt collector, Hai Phuong (Veronica Ngo, from “Clash”) tries to balance the ethical qualms of her work with being a proud role model for her daughter Mai (Mai Cat Vi). Following an incident at a public market, Hai notices that Mai has been kidnapped by a group of strangers and takes off after them, eventually losing them but manages to discover they were heading towards Saigon which brings her to the city. Setting out to recapture her, she comes across Thanh Wolf (Thanh Hua), leader of a cruel child kidnapping ring operating out of the city, who has captured Mai along with other children to continue their black market smuggling ring, and sets out to take down the organization and take back her daughter.
‘Furie’ was quite a lot of fun. Among it’s most notable aspects is the handling of the central relationship between Hai and her daughter, which is a major focus in director Kiet’s script. This is a fine part here where we see the dichotomy of her performance, forced to be a ruthless and cold-hearted gangster for her job yet trying to teach her daughter how to be better than she is. This is a facet that triggers an emotional response for any parent who is trying to accomplish the same thing with their own children. The scenes of her early on in their home or the tell-tale scolding at the market where she denies shoplifting despite accusations saying she did only to be proven right in spite of Hai’s proclamations of her guilt, show that her intentions may be right but her execution is slightly missing. That makes the ensuing mission to retrieve her so heartwarming and enjoyable as this quest captures her desire and intensity to get her back as the occasional flashbacks to the struggles she has in trying to raise her keeps that a prominent part of the film.
Likewise, the action quotient of ‘Furie’ is really strong. The early part in the village is quite minor, kept to a few brief skirmishes with henchmen trying to prevent access to her daughter during the kidnapping, as well as a really intense boat chase along the river that really has a lot to like and get this one started. The rural attitude is then nicely contrasted by the bright neon and business that occurs when moving to Saigon, which offers up a more traditional set of action set pieces in a more urban environment. The hand-to-hand fighting, choreographed by Yannick Ben and Anh Tuan Nguyen, has some brutal, hard-hitting moves featured in the brawls that forsake showy unrealistic martial arts in favor of a more simplistic style that would be pertinent in the situation. Hai is not about displaying the most impressive form in battle with her opponents, as instead, she’s looking to recapture her daughter and knock those out preventing her from doing so, meaning she goes about knocking out those people quickly. Hai is still capable of engaging in extended fights throughout here including the massive series of brawls with the henchmen on the train, which is full of outstanding action and plenty of hard-hitting moves that are quite enjoyable.
There isn’t much in ‘Furie’ that holds it back. Among it’s biggest drawbacks is the outright lack of information about the child-abduction ring until it’s way too late in the film. While there’s a great sense of realism to be had in Hai not knowing who has stolen her daughter but rather that Mai has been taken, the fact that we don’t know anything about the operation or what’s going to happen to her keeps things on a confusing note regarding her mission. That the investigating detective supposedly on this case has nothing on them this entire time and only stumbles across their operation and its personnel through Hai’s involvement in the situation, leaves this entire section of the film to drag itself out in order to give us this little bit of info on the kidnapping ring. Whether this aspect of the film is a reality of Vietnam can’t be confirmed but it’s still a curious aspect that something this important is such a complete mystery.
Ably supported by plenty of action and graced with a strong emotional resonance at the heart of the film, ‘Furie’ is a truly enjoyable action-packed effort that has plenty to recommend about it. Give this a shot if you’re curious about the film, intrigued by the creative forces behind the scenes on the film or interested in the genre, while those not willing to look at this kind of effort should heed caution.