“FURIE” is now on Blu-ray and digital starring Veronica Ngo. This is a Vietnamese action-thriller from director Le Van Kiet that centers on an ex-gangster that is now a single mother. She uses her skill-set to collect debts for a local bookie to make ends meet while trying to live a quiet life. But when her daughter is kidnapped, she will stop at nothing and let no one get in the way from finding the one good thing she felt she had in her life. Now I have said before that some stories are naturally built for retelling. This one, with the premise of a parent trying to find a kidnapped child is certainly one of them. The idea can be the same, but there are endless options for layers that can be added to give this recycled plot a fresh look. It’s certainly what this one pulled off as it builds the relationship of the mother and daughter very quickly. Then kicks into gear until the end credits roll with waves of fast-paced martial-arts, a versatile lead performance, and stark but appealing visual flare.
What I think this film does effectively is pull the viewer into the world of the story with the lead character. The locations are excellently captured with lots of wide panning aerial shots that drop into the scenes. The story-line weaves this tedious connection of criminal activity and it sets the stage for a seemingly insurmountable roadblock for this mother. Which I feel naturally builds a ton of intrigue to see if and how she will be able to track down her daughter. You can assume things will work out in the end, but there is always the chance for a sad ending. And I thought that aspect created some effective unpredictability which held the curiosity up.
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The selling point for this film is without a doubt the martial-arts fight sequences. But it was surprisingly the lead performance that gave the movie an emotional connection that isn’t often accomplished in these action heavy movies. Veronica Ngo (who you may recognize as Paige Tico from “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”) brought a ton of heart and emotional layering to this character. I felt the sincerity she captured naturally made me connect with her violent mission just a little more. She is seemingly out of her element at every turn to create uneasiness. There is a genuine fear in her at times. But she is also brave and relentless, and these waves of expression did humanize her. She was incredible in the fight-sequences as well giving this movie the dual threat it needed.
As for the fight scenes I thought they were nicely designed. The choreography is tightly crafted with a fluid styling. Many scenes would often incorporate the practical objects around the characters in the sets. Knives, poles, chains, motorcycles, you name it and the characters use it to try and take the other down. It was vibrant and fast-paced with a strong level of violence. But there certainly isn’t an excessive use of blood which keeps the gratuitous imagery to a minimum. Veronica Ngo was incredible, she is unassuming and small in stature, but she can put weight and velocity into her movements that sells her on being able to take on those much larger and stronger than her.
Something that was elevated by the visual determination of Ngo’s performance resulting in some intense action. Which for the most part was well captured onscreen because she did a majority of her own stunt work. There is a clear styling to Kiet’s direction and some of the fight-sequences are a little over stylized with the camera movements and editing. It can feel a little jarring at times visually but for the bulk of the scenes there is a strong visual appeal that works. It captures the violence, the art of the fighting, and all the intensity genre fans could ask for. Despite having a couple slight styling hindrances in places.
Overall though, “Furie” was a wild ride with this mother trying to get her daughter back and it was a success in my opinion. The lighting creates a vibrant atmosphere to blend with this gritty story and the combination works. The fighting was more than capable, and Ngo was fantastic even if the camera techniques tried a little too hard at times. But with Ngo bringing a gripping human element to the role, it makes this film worth checking out for fans of martial-arts themed crime-thrillers.