Furies (2023)

Posted in Reviews by - December 29, 2023
Furies (2023)

Fast and furious rape-revenge movie from the multitalented Veronica Ngo, making her third directorial feature in a fascinating career which has seen her move from singing star to Hollywood to Vietnam’s biggest action filmmaker. A prequel to the excellent 2019 martial arts film, Furie – in which Ngo played a mother on the hunt for her kidnapped daughter – as director, she is unflinching in her depiction of Ho Chi Minh City’s seedy, sleazy side, and the violent criminal underworld who frequent it. As an actor, she plays a different character from before, Jacqueline, a mysterious matriarch who recruits three young street girls – themselves victims of horrendous physical and sexual abuse – and trains them to become tough fighters to exact her own revenge on a gang of drug pushers and sex traders. “It is our duty to annihilate them,” Jacqueline says in a neat precis of the plot, which is nothing if not familiar. Despite its well-worn tropes, Ngo knows how to deliver a pacy, decent action movie, and it moves along with bountiful energy, punctuated by Samuel Kefi Abrikh’s wonderful, close-combat choreography. Abrikh’s work was a real highlight of Furie, and it is just as kinetic, clever and exciting in the prequel, with great takedowns, gun-fu and knife fights staged in cramped conditions which make excellent use of the film’s claustrophobic environs. Like the original, the same green and pink palette adorns the movie, giving it a similarly other-worldly aesthetic. But there are some quite obvious flaws: the special effects are sometimes creaky, especially during a bizarre bike chase which is nothing like the iconic sequence in The Villainess it clearly aspires to be. Some of the film’s tonal shifts are dodgy, too. The film jumps from graphic, brutal violence to scenes involving the three girls bonding over costume changes and an upbeat pop soundtrack. These manicured moments disrupt the grit and the grime of its tougher, urban scenes; the sudden gear shifts seem reminiscent of the Hong Kong action cinema of the 1980s and 90s, for which this film clearly owes a debt. The film also threatens to get mired in too much plot, but Ngo knows her audience and she just about keeps things on track.

AKA: Thanh Sói – Cúc dại trong đêm.

This post was written by
Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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