Review: Furie (2019)

Le-Van Kiet’s newest crime thriller Furie closed out Udine Far East Film Festival 2019, and follows a well trod kidnapped child and vengeful parent with a special set of skills plot design. Fortunately, the uniqueness of the Vietnamese setting and it’s extremely watchable lead, performed by superstar Veronica Ngo makes the film just fresh enough for blood thirsty fans of the genre. 

The story develops with Hai Phuong (Ngo), a debt collector working on behalf of a loan shark to support herself and her daughter. Her position as a tough fighter combined with the mysterious circumstance of being a single mother ostracises herself and her daughter, Mai (Cat Vi) from this small community. 

Following beat by beat in the same mould as many other films like this, she then encounters someone who kidnaps Mai and to get her back she has to go through a journey into her difficult and mysterious past, and for genre fans, a whole lot of close quarter fisticuffs and a dose of knife-gun-fu. 

Furie does on ocassion try to break some of its familiar tropes, with a strong lean towards women. The main character’s main obstacles and relationships are with other women. Her biggest confrontation comes from an equally focused Thanh Soi, played excellently by Thanh Hoa. Putting these two actors in the same frame was sometimes as explosive as some of the action. The men then becomes sidelined into supporting roles and is a refreshing and clear point of view that sometimes gets lost in other films cut from the same cloth. 

The tired material does eventually become cumbersome and does detract from something potentially interesting moving forward, but the biggest culprit that weighs this piece down is the achingly corny groan inducing ending that does slightly weaken the cinematic attempts preceding it. 

Furie has a some technical polish and a lot of bravado in its designs. The film tries to outdo its budget and feels electric. Its' set pieces seem to be edgy and pushing the film into unexpected territories. There are times when the action does seem somewhat protracted and over the top, but there is a giddy enthusiasm in the action, thanks to stunt coordinator Keri Abrikh, whose worked on films such as Jason Bourne and similar sounding film, Fury. The film borrows much from American films flowing very much between its original perspective, loving homage and meta-commentary on some occasion. 

But how does it compare to Southeast Asian works? Whilst not as accomplished as some of this regions action films, such as Gareth Evans gold standard for The Raid series, the film falls very much in place with an influx of new works such as Philippines Buy Bust, and We Will Not Die Tonight which too featured a female centric view in the form of leading characters played by Anne Curtis and Erich Gonzales. That being said, the film holds its own with its very own Tiger Mom. 

Furie is now playing on Netflix. It recently had its European premiere, as the closing film of the Udine Far East Film Festival 2019 following its international bow at the Osaka Asian Film Festival, as part of its International Competition programming. 

Review by Rifyal Giffari

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