Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Saigon Bodyguards: The Vietnamese Action-Buddy Movie
Vietnam, the milk business is pretty cutthroat. During power struggles, you
need a little private security muscle like the kind Trinh can offer. His
partner Vien—not so much, but they are a package deal in Ken Ochiai’s Saigon Bodyguards (trailer here), which opens
today in Metro-Los Angeles.
boss is always comparing him unfavorably to his late bodyguard father, but her
expectations for Vien are drastically lower. They would really be on her list
after all the damage they (Vien) caused on their last gig, but they have been
specially requested for a sensitive assignment. The client happens to be Vien’s
little sister Thi, who has climbed the corporate ladder at LeMilk. She and
Trinh really ought to be an item, but Vien won’t give them a break.
the death of LeMilk’s charismatic founder, his college student son Henry is
supposed to be in line to succeed him, but board members are conspiring against
him. True to form, Vien lets Henry get kidnapped at the first opportunity, but
with a little fast thinking, he recruits dead-ringer street vendor Phuc to
impersonate their client. From there, mayhem ensues, as Trinh and Vien race to
rescue the heir, while the bad guys conspire to nab the spare.
you might expect, the humor in Saigon
Bodyguards is pretty rubber-faced and physical. Japanese filmmaker Ochiai brings
none of the tragic elegance that so distinguished his masterful Uzumasa Limelight, but frankly, it would
be out of place here. Instead, he keeps things snappy and lightweight. Along
the way, he stages a number of entertaining fight scenes, especially those
featuring Vietnamese popstar Diep Lam Anh as hench-vixen Kieu. He also does his
best to capitalize on producer-star Kim Ly’s physique, which definitely has
action star potential.
Ly’s presence wears relatively well and he develops some appealing chemistry
Chi Pu’s Thi. However, Thai Hoa becomes downright wearisome as the shticky Vien
and Be Tran similarly tries our patience as the goofy Phuc. However, Kieu and
Khuong Ngoc’s flamboyantly evil Dat chew plenty of scenery and throw down with
the best of them.
a way, it is nice to see a release this commercial and eager to please coming
out of Vietnam. This is definitely a capitalist kind of film, with absolutely,
positively no socialist realism. It is actually kind of fun, in a cheesy way. Recommended
for those who find the From Vegas to
Macau franchise too subtle and serious but the Lost In movies too pratfallish, Saigon
Bodyguards opens today (2/3) at the brand new CGV Cinemas in Buena Park,
courtesy of CJ Entertainment)
Labels: Ken Ochiai, Vietnamese Cinema