Thursday, February 23, 2012
Life in an urban Vietnamese neighborhood appears to be quite difficult, with rampant crime, crumbling infrastructure, crowded tenements and streets, and a host of other ills common in countries with large populations and struggling economies. Although some portions of the movie were a bit surreal, basically CYCLO (1995) is about a brother (who works as a pedicab driver) and sister are drawn into the mafia-type underworld of a local woman's gang of thugs. To me however, it is more about how the immorality of the mafia life tears at the soul of one gangster (Tony Leung-Chiu Wai), who is mostly a pimp and enforcer. The sister is used as a high-class escort of sorts, performing unusual tasks for perverted clientel. The cyclo driver is also emotionally undone by his increasing participation in gang activities. Tran Nu Yen Khe is beautiful. The story is a bit thin and strange at times, but the scenery is compelling and often striking.