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Movie Review: FURIE

At a certain, critical point in the film, Furie made me say of its heroine, “She stabbed the shit out of ol’ girl.” A positive review was then all but cemented.

To be clear, Furie is merely a “good” action movie, not a superior one, but that is partly due to its recent competitors. In a world where exists the likes of The RaidJohn Wick, the last few Mission Impossible flicks, The Night Comes for Us and The Man From Nowhere, you might be more apt to nitpick a few things about Furie, such as how its lead actress, Ngô Thanh Vân, doesn’t have a great action movie run. The scooters often used in the chase scenes are also clearly moving at a very safe speed in some shots, and that lack of urgency stands out all the more when the people on these scooter are all wearing helmets. Maybe Vietnam is just so big on bike safety that even in the midst of attempting or averting a kidnapping, all parties involved make sure to first secure some headgear.

These are minor quibbles. As is the fact that the movie is the latest example of “Took the wrong kid” action sub-genre re-popularized several years ago by Taken, and possibly perfected by the aforementioned The Man From Nowhere (with which it has even more in common given its child traffickers are also in the organ-harvesting business). The premise is simple and reliable. Kidnappers snatch a child without realizing that the kid’s parent / loved one / guardian is a retired expert fighter and killer. Much exciting pursuit and combat ensues.

Most of that combat is hand-to-hand in Furie, and although some undercranking is utilized to speed up the action, it’s actually a pretty welcome effect instead of being a distraction. All punches, kicks, elbows and knees look like they connect stiffly and brutally. The choreography is terrific, with Ngo looking believably swift, smooth, resourceful and resilient as she takes down larger combatants, most of whom are fairly nondescript mooks. Their boss, however, Thanh Wolf, is a brute who looks and fights like an MMA champion, and is impressive and memorable enough that she’s getting her own prequel spinoff.

Furie also has the exact amount of Asian Action Movie Melodrama that I expect and even sometimes pine for. In my younger days I went through a phase of watching just about any half-reputable Asian action and/or crime flick (particularly Hong Kong and Japanese films) I could find, and one thing most of them had in common was that they had melodrama to spare. Western action films often eschew any sincere drama, much less the overly emotive style that is culturally acceptable in Asian popcorn flicks. Even dramatic crime films in America don’t go for it as nakedly as the Asian flicks do (for a point of comparative reference, see this video showing a matching scene from Infernal Affairs and its remake, The Departed).

Whereas Bryan Mills barely shows much more than focused, smoldering rage in Taken, “tigress mother”1 Hai Phuong is, at various points, openly regretful, loving, scared, angry, and sad. Liam Neeson, talented BAFTA and Oscar nominee, is never asked or even allowed to do much acting in the Taken films. Ngô Thanh Vân is asked to do almost all the acting in the world in Furie’s 98-minutes and I’m happy for every second of it.

Related:  Movie Review: AURORA

Final Verdict: A good ol’, entertaining, martial-arts action flick.

  1. That’s taken directly from the movie, not a bad racial joke about her being a “tiger mom”
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