Lôi Báo (2017)

Posted in Reviews by - September 14, 2019
Lôi Báo (2017)

Vietnamese body swap action movie from director Victor Vu, an acclaimed filmmaker known more for his dramatic work. He crafts a convincing thriller, dealt with at times in sombre tones, which is a bit of stretch for a film with the sort of premise that wouldn’t look out of place in an old episode of The Twilight Zone. Chinese fight choreographer Vincent Wang (The Great Wall) brings a grounded realism to the combat scenes – again, slightly at odds with the fantastical story – who turns the film’s star, Cuong Seven (a famous singer and dancer), into a knife-wielding, free-running, child-saving superhero. He plays Tam, a devoted father who decides to take part in an experimental head transplant operation following a terminal cancer diagnosis (the science is a bit woolly, so just go with it). His new body belongs to a tough mafioso hood with expert martial arts skills, and soon enough, Tam goes from being a rather innocent comic book artist and family man to resembling the sort of superhero he spends all day drawing, embodying the titular ‘Lôi Báo’ of his fantasies. His behaviour shifts as he becomes corrupted by flashbacks of his former criminal self, and what begins as something of an exercise in adding credibility and emotion to the superhero origin story (so synonymous with the Marvel Cinematic Universe), soon manifests into something bordering on the existential. There’s some pretty serious lapses in logic, but at least the tone is consistent, and the film convincingly shows how Vietnam can more than compete on the international martial arts movie stage.

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