furie (lê văn kiệt, 2019)
Sunday, December 13, 2020
This is the fourteenth film I have watched in "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2020-21", "A 33 week long challenge where the goal each week is to watch a previously unseen feature length film from a specified category." This is the 6th annual challenge, and my second time participating (last year can be found at "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2019-20"). Week 14 is called "I've been meaning to get to it..." Week
It's December. Another trip around the sun nearly complete, and movies from last year have been sitting in your watchlist for almost a whole year. Sure, you've probably checked out a lot of the major pictures, but there's always stuff that falls through the cracks. Let's rectify that a little by watching films from 2019 that we said we'd get to, but still haven't yet. Some winter cleaning, if you will.
This week's challenge is to watch a previously unseen film on your watchlist from 2019.
Holy moly! I had no idea. My original pick for this challenge was Honey Boy, but when news emerged that star Shia LaBeouf was being sued by his co-star and former girlfriend for an abusive relationship, I thought I'd change my pick. Furie was on my watchlist, but I can't even remember why. I saw it was from Vietnam, and it had an ass-kicking female lead, and that's usually good enough for me. I was happy and surprised to learn that Furie was much more than I expected.
The plot is basic, much like the Taken series: parent's child is kidnapped, parent goes on a rampage to get them back. Liam Neeson is a fine actor, an Oscar nominee who in his mid-50s became a surprise action star. He's good at it, too, but he doesn't call on too many of his acting chops in the Taken films. And this is one way Furie differs from the norm. Veronica Ngo (born Ngô Thanh Vân), who plays the title character (the original title is the actual name of her character, Hai Phuong), has had an interesting life, working as a model, a pop star, and eventually an actor. Her family put her on a boat when she was ten, and she escaped Vietnam for Norway. She returned ten years later and began her career. I didn't recognize her, but she had a small part in Star Wars: The Last Jedi as Kelly Marie Tran's sister. Just recently, she turned up in Da 5 Bloods and The Old Guard. She didn't make much of an impression on me, which made me more surprised when I saw what she could do in Furie.
I usually get impatient when action movies try to interest us in the characters' lives, but this time was different. Director Le-Van Kiet and writer Kay Nguyen made Hai Phuong interesting, and Veronica Ngo was superb. It was as if Liam Neeson had paused during his kicking ass in Taken to remind the audience he could act as well. Hai Phuong is a bad ass, to be sure, but Ngo really takes over the vengeance plotline. You do not want to get in her way.
The action scenes are well-choreographed, which I always appreciate. Everything about Furie is a little better than you expect, and the result knocks your socks off.
Here, she sees her daughter being kidnapped:
And here she takes on the ringleader of the kidnappers, who has already kicked her ass earlier in the film:
According to Wikipedia, Furie was the highest-grossing Vietnamese film in history.