16:32′ 21/05/2007 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – Love triangles, ghosts, hair-raising action scenes, betrayal and -loss are just some of the themes of Vietnam’s first summer movie season. Vietnamese movie-makers are rolling out their best work – with many films expected to become blockbusters.

An advertising boarding depicts films scheduled to appear at the National Cinema Centre this summer.
An advertising boarding depicts films scheduled to appear at the National Cinema Centre this summer.

At the forefront of Vietnamese film-making, Giai Phong Film Studio has brought out Gia Mua Mot Thuong De (The Cost of a God) and Vu Dieu Tu Than (The Deadly Dance) – both partly sponsored by the Government.

The films tackle social issues, such as drugs and vice. The Cost of a God is a humorous story of a woman’s struggle to protect the Ben Tre Coconut Candy brand name from being stolen.

The film stars many celebrated Vietnamese actors such as Viet Trinh and Minh Tiep, and was first screened last weekend.

Deadly Dance is a tale of dancing-girls and drugs and will be screened at the end of next month.

Private studios are also bringing out a number of major film this summer. Chanh Phuong Film Studio has just finished making the two-episode 45-minute horror movies Ngoi Nha Bi An (The Mysterious House) and Suoi Oan Hon (Haunted River) – both sure to make your hair stand on end.

The studio’s productions are influenced by British film director Alfred Hitchcock, a pioneering figure in the thriller genre. The two films will be screened towards the end of next month.

Last but not least, Muoi (Ten), the first joint-production by Vietnam’s Phuoc Sang Film studio and Billy Pictures from South Korea. The film depicts the life of a South Korean female writer who comes to Vietnam.

While in Vietnam she hears of a poltergeist- a broken-hearted woman – who haunts the home of her former boyfriend. She nightly rips up newspapers, moves pictures and drips blood.

With investment climbing, to around US$3mil, the filmmakers, promise the horror flick will keep audiences glued to their seats. Muoi will hit screens at the end of the summer movie season on July 7.

Dong Mau Anh Hung (The Rebel), which was released last April, is set in the early 20th Century during the Vietnamese struggle against invading French forces.

The film, acclaimed for its magnificent action scenes, was an instant hit with Vietnamese audiences – in the first two weeks of screening, the film was watched by more than 50,000 moviegoers.

Sai Gon Eclipse is also set in the past. Adapted from the Vietnamese literary: masterpiece Nguyen Du’s Kieu Tale, the film was directed by Othello Khanh, who lives in France, and stars Truong Ngoc Anh and Nhu Quynh. The movie opened in theatres last Tuesday.

 
11:43′ 21/05/2007 (GMT+7)

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A scene of “flower” girls in Saigon Eclipse

VietNamNet Bridge – With an international cast and a theme about women’s hard lives, award-winning Saigon Eclipse, which opened in theatres last Friday, disappointed Vietnamese critics with its lack of understanding of Vietnamese culture.

A series of articles have been appearing in Vietnamese newspapers attacking the quality of Saigon Eclipse, which was co-produced by Film Studio 1 and Canadian producer John Board, directed by Vietnamese-French director Othello Khanh and has recently taken part in the Asian Pacific Film Festival, as well as won the jury’s special prize at the Worldfest Houston International Film Festival.

Most critics consider the image of Vietnamese women in the movie uncharacteristic, unrealistic and disparaging. For instance, the leading character, a countryside girl, meets a stranger and agrees to be his lover in order to achieve her dream of living a better life in the US.

A southern old woman meets this same man for the first time and instantly offers to sell her granddaughter to him. Girls voluntarily line up to sell themselves, and prostitutes shamelessly pester foreign men with emails asking for money.

Though film critics applaud Othello Khanh’s effort to make a movie to protest against transnational woman trafficking, they think Saigon Solar Eclipse doesn’t reflect a good grasp of Vietnamese life and people, but merely a film about a Vietnam seen through the eyes of a foreigner.

Other details such as the overuse of English in the dialogues of Vietnamese characters also nettle them. Nguyen Thi Hong Ngat, Chairman of the Saigon Eclipse Censorship Board, also joins in the criticism.

“I personally don’t like this movie. The film was written and directed by overseas Vietnamese so it seems to take place somewhere else rather than in Vietnam. For instance, Kieu’s mother’s human sales are unrealistic.”

“Kieu’s love story isn’t similar to the love between Thuy Kieu and Kim Trong in the Tale of Kieu. Mafia bosses happily sit chatting with each other. Policemen freely reveal their identity, not to mention the fact that actors speak annoyingly imperfect Vietnamese.”

“I think the director’s intention is good since he wants to protest the selling of women. Yet, the film supposedly about Vietnam was made without a deep understanding of Vietnamese culture and the interpersonal relationships in the life of the Vietnamese.”

 
15:36′ 21/05/2007 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – The Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Public Security have proposed the Prime Minister to issue the Regulation on visa exemption for overseas Vietnamese who have foreign passports.

 

Accordingly, overseas Vietnamese who return to Vietnam within 90 days will be exempted from visa if they meet the following conditions: Having foreign passports or alternative papers which are valid in at least six months, valid return tickets or the tickets to go to the third country, and visa exemption verification document.

 

Foreigners who are the husband, wife and children of overseas Vietnamese regulation who meet the above conditions are also exempted from visas to Vietnam.

 

The Ministry of Public Security is compiling a guiding document to simplify formalities and shorten the procedures on repatriation of overseas Vietnamese.

 

The ministry will modify some regulations on immigration and residence of foreigners in Vietnam, including the expansion of visa granting at border gates for foreigners in general and grant five-year visas for investors.

 



Lee Byung-hun

By Seo Dong-shin
Staff Reporter

Actor Lee Byung-hun will likely play a Hong Kong gang leader involved in crime and drug businesses in an upcoming film by a renowned Vietnamese-French director.

Yonhap News Agency reported from Cannes, France that the 37-year-old actor will star in “I Come With the Rain,” a film scheduled for 2008 by director Tran Anh Hung.

Tran’s previous works include “The Scent of Green Papaya” and “Cyclo” among others. The upcoming $18 million-budget movie will become the first English-language film by the director.

The film stars Josh Harnett, of “Black Hawk Down” and “Pearl Harbor” fame. The American actor will play the lead role of a former Los Angeles cop who comes to Hong Kong on a mission to find a missing son of a high-ranking Chinese businessman.

Lee’s role, a gang leader called Su Dongpo, will support the plot along with the role of Meng Zi, a Hong Kong cop and a long-time friend of the American.

The film is expected to be Lee’s debut on the world stage. Lee is currently filming “The Good, the Bad and the Weird” by director Kim Ji-woon, and is reviewing the proposal for the role in Tran’s film, sources close to him were quoted as saying by the local media.

Variety.com reported that the film will feature music from Gustavo Santaolalla, who composed the music for “Brokeback Mountain.” The film shoot will last 10 weeks in Los Angeles, the Philippines and Hong Kong from July 9, and will premiere in the United States, Canada and France, according to the report.

saltwall@koreatimes.co.kr