Vietnamese Action Prequel Pummels The Patriarchy [SXSW]

Although, there are scenes that aren’t as exceptional compared to the practical accomplishments of stunt performers and architectural damage. “Furies” lives and dies by its ambition, never worse than a motorcycle chase that’s glaringly green-screened and heavily animated. It’s inorganic as video game cutscene digitization collides with actors who don’t feel like they belong in the pixelated scene, mirroring the frantic danger of anime excitement yet lacking the artistic composition that blends reality with post-production prowess. Quynh and Tien’s heroes do their best to sell death-defying escape skills, and a Vietnamese rock n’ roll ballad attempts to set the mood. Still, it’s an unfavorable comparison to Ngô’s energetic and enigmatic control over way more of “Furies” — not to mention how it pads a running time that’s detrimentally closer to the two-hour mark than a tight ninety minutes.

The undefeatable spirit of “Furies” sustains composure, along with Ngô’s ability to blend womanly accents with badass expectations. Cinematographer Phu Nam steadies otherwise kinetic choreography without blurring movement and soaks in all the glitzy, rainbow-blasting aesthetics of party-hopping clubs ready for a blood-wash makeover. The softness with which Nam can frame a wild daisy blooming from concrete — the flower a symbol of survival growing in Jaqueline’s makeshift dojo — then switch to bone-shattering action freneticism is a talent, one that Ngô exploits. “Furies” is better for its cutesy dress-up montages that lead into gratuitously punishing dispatches of henchmen waves, going the extra mile to have fun with personality-based costumes, placing a premium on entertainment that sometimes leaves a twistier story behind.

“Furies” is a double-barreled adrenaline shot of ladies-first action extravagance that shines a light on Vietnamese genre cinema. Veronica Ngô swats away male-dominated stereotypes and leaves audiences gasping for air after marathons of violence that dazzle and seduce. What causes “Furies” to stumble at times is unfortunate between lackluster computer animations and storytelling that’s stretched almost translucent, but it’s not enough to torpedo this fast-and-furious actioner. Girls rule the screen while boys drool a mixture of blood and tooth fragments, all in the name of righteous genre embellishment that executes brawler excitement with Ngô’s power-punching touch.

/Film Rating: 7 out of 10

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