Furie (Vietnam 2019)

Rating: ***
Alternate Title: Hai Phuong
Review Date: 7/4/19
Cast: Veronica Ngo, Mai Cat Vi, Phan Thanh Nhien

Hai Phuong (Veronica Ngo) is a single mother who struggles to make a living as a gangster and debt collector. Bad karma eventually catches up to her, and her daughter Mai (Mai Cat Vi) is kidnapped by a nasty group of organ harvesters. Hell hath no fury like a tigress protecting her cubs, and Hai risks everything to track down and rescue her daughter. A cop named Luong (Phan Thanh Nhien) reluctantly helps her, even though she's made a mess of his three-year investigation of the bad guys. With superb fighting skills and sheer force of will, Hai manages to overcome all of the obstacles that are thrown at her, otherwise it would be a very grim and depressing film.

I've heard rumors that this is Veronica Ngo's last action film, and if that's true, she's definitely ending her career on a high note. She gives a fantastic performance and her fight scenes are wonderfully executed. The last two set pieces are especially good, and even I was shocked by how raw and vicious they are. Ms. Ngo looks great, but it's unfortunate that she's stuck with only one outfit for the entire film. However, it makes sense within the context of the story. Mai Cat Vi is adorable as Hai's daughter and she's extremely sweet and charming. While the action scenes are satisfying and well-crafted, they unfortunately suffer from drop-frame editing, which is extremely distracting. Why do so many filmmakers do this? It's so aggravating to watch. Additionally, the visual effects aren't overly convincing, but they get the job done and thankfully don't draw too much attention. The cinematography is good, although the colors are a bit more garish than I prefer. It's a slow starter and the pacing could use some tightening up, but Veronica Ngo does a great job of engaging the audience and pushing the narrative forward. The story boils down to a simple and straight-forward vengeful mother tale, but the formula works and hits all of the right dramatic notes. It's exciting to see a resurgence in female action films coming out of Asia right now. I hope the trend continues and that the quality keeps improving.