Furie – Australian Judoka views Vietnamese Martial Arts Movie

Week two of auto ethnographic studies. This week we watched a type of movie I would probably describe as something I could stumble upon and watch on Netflix. This movie is about a mother who has what seems to be a mob related past who’s daughter is kidnapped and she takes down everyone in her way to rescue her daughter.


Hai Phuong is the main character we follow through this story. She is the mother of Mai who is abducted after a brief introduction to all the characters when she angrily wonders away from her mother after an argument in the crowded markets. the rest of the movie Hai is hot on Mai’s trail and even comes across her brother who shuns he for leaving the family 10 years ago, despite this she finds Mai just to be beaten up by the head gangsta. She then cons her way out of hospital and gets some police assistance at the very end of the movie to finish of the gangstas saving Mai and all the other children they were trying to traffic out of Vietnam.

Interestingly the movie in Vietnam appears to be named after the main character as below:


this means even before watching this movie it has been adapted to potential attract a larger audience outside of Vietnam. Considering the entire movie was subtitled and not dubbed I do assume this is the only change to the movie from Vietnam to reach a global audience.

Initially I expected to be most intrigued by the way this movie did its fighting scenes both choreography and camerawork wise. This was interesting and well done however basically was just well choreographed fighting (Excluding the clearly not breaking arms breaking -I dislocated my left elbow at the start of the year I can confidently identify what would actually damage an arm and what is normal range of motion based on direction of hand/arm) with smooth good continuous camera shots not what some movies do with a million cuts to distract from bad choreography. But really that’s not a cultural things anyone can do that well and some western movies do it just swell if not better.

What really interested me is these busy places basically touching were crime was happening. Criminal behaviour wasn’t happening down a few back alleys in the corner but in offices right above crowded streets and trains paced with people. This was a very different representation of the reality of criminal behaviour then is represented in Hollywood movies.


This combined with the start of the movie where it is made very obvious that a group of bystanders had of seen were Mai was taken from a boat across the road infant of them to a minivan you see her in driving past Hai.


Why was this odd for me?

What I bring to understanding this movie:

  • Western kidnapping movies eg: Taken
  • growing up in Wollongong without fear of being kidnapped really being a thing
  • Judo training understanding what would actually throw\injure someone, what wouldn’t and generally just feeling quite safe wherever I go

In movies and culture that I was brought up in crime is really just when you travel risk and w only have minor or community acceptable crime (drugs) happening here which is nothing to really bother the average citizen. This is shown through taken:


In Taken the risk is overseas away from the safety of the US the great safe country producing the movie. To even add another step of obstruction the villains aren’t even local to the country the daughter is traveling to.

The fact that a movie produced in Vietnam was acknowledging the potential for crime of human trafficking can be happening just out of site is interesting and challenges why we ourself don’t look into the real state of crimes locally. It appears in Vietnam movies are a way people can express their opinions or maybe just the reality of crime lucky so close to the surface of Vietnamese culture. While this is shown it was interesting that the brother despite the obvious changes Hai has made to her life is unwilling to help or acknowledge the effect crime has had on Hai despite her trying to distance herself from crime for Mai. Her brother is still more concerned with family, duty and why she wasn’t there for him when he wanted her but is unwilling to be there for her.

in summary the movie seemed to be showing me the cultural norm for crime to be ever present, people to be more scared of criminals then helping and then a more what a would see as Chinese in the past values of family and you bringing dishonour/being cast out of the family if you ever stray from the past to not be let back in.