Truy Sat (Vietnam 2016)

Rating: **
Alternate Title: Tracer
Review Date: 4/8/17
Executive Producer: Truong Ngoc Anh
Cast: Truong Ngoc Anh, Lamou Vissay, Thien Nguyen, Vinh Thuy, Maria Tran

An exceptional female cop named An (Truong Ngoc Anh) is targeted by a nasty crime lord named Loc Soi (Lamou Vissay) after she interferes with one of his smuggling operations. Phuong Lua (Maria Tran) also has a score to settle with An for killing her partner in the process. The police send An to a safe house where she continues to investigate on her own, and naturally gets herself into even more trouble. When her son gets kidnapped by the bad guys, she declares all-out war against Loc Soi and all of his drug dealing associates.

The film certainly evokes the tone and spirit of 1980s Hong Kong female action cinema, and while the attitude is right on the mark, the execution is sadly disappointing. The action choreography is competent, but clumsy camera work and shoddy editing spoil most of the fun. Excessive drop-frame editing is visually jarring, and computer generated cars and explosions look tacky and unconvincing. However, it's obvious that the filmmakers put extra time and care into the climax, which features a very satisfying fight involving fists, feet, katanas, batons, and the clever use of a longbow.

As a female action film, Truong Ngoc Anh is front and center, and everything revolves around her. She has a fierce presence and looks absolutely fantastic in her casual and functional wardrobe. Her piercing eyes and stern pout are intensely captivating, although her emotional range is limited to slight variations of anger and despair. Her fight scenes are energetic and enjoyable, but not overly convincing due to the sloppy handheld camera work and cutaway editing. Maria Tran's execution fares better, which is to be expected since she's a professional stuntwoman. The other stuntmen perform well, although the action seems softer and slower than what I'm used to seeing in other Asian action films. The film aims high, but the presentation falls short due to technical and budget limitations, and questionable B-movie plot devices. As long as you accept it on its own terms, it's a fun and enjoyable ride, and I look forward to seeing Truong Ngoc Anh and Maria Tran expanding their action personas in future projects.