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Furies (2023) Review

Released in 2019 Furie was a breakthrough not only for director Lê Văn Kiệt (The Requin, The Princess) but for Vietnamese film in general. Now, four years later Furies, a prequel directed and co-written, along with Nha Uyen Ly Nguyen (The Lost Dragon, Tam Cam: The Untold Story), Nguyen Truong Nhan (Furie), Nguyen Ngoc Thach and Aaron Toronto (The Pact, Face2Face), by its star Veronica Ngo (Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, The Rebel) has arrived. 

The film opens with a very grim portrait of life for Vietnamese women that includes prostitution and rape. That includes the attack on Bi (Dong Anh Quynh, YOLO the Movie, Dien Tho Imperial Palace’s Homicide Cases) that leads to the death of her mother and Bi stabbing her attacker to death.

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Alone she ends up in Ho Chi Minh City where she’s eventually recruited by Jacqueline (Veronica Ngo)  to join her Hồng (Rima Thanh Vy, 11 Hopes, Muoi: The Curse Returns) and Thanh (Toc Tien, Gia Gan, My Nhan va Gang To) in their fight against human trafficker Mad Dog Hai (Thuan Nguyen, Like An Old House, Naked Truth) and his lieutenants, collectively known as The Big 4.

If you’re expecting a typically sanitized modern action film, be prepared for a shock, Furies is a very different film from Furie. As I said it starts on a grim note, and it stays that way with a view of the world that feels like it was lifted from a 1970s exploitation film where nobody is safe, nobody can be trusted and violence, especially sexual assault, seems to literally lurk around every corner.

Even our heroines aren’t immune from it, at one point Bi says she’s afraid of how much she enjoys killing Hai’s men and the effect it may have on her. Shortly after we see Jacqueline burning her arm with a cigarette, a trail of scars shows it’s not the first time either. It’s a world where nothing is, or can be, pure. There’s a lot of black but no white, just various shades of grey.

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In terms of its action scenes, Furies is on a level with its predecessor. Kefi Abrikh (District 13: Ultimatum, Kung Fu Zohra) returns from the original to choreograph the brawling here. And he delivers as the film’s various factions go at each other with fists, feet and an assortment of bladed weapons. Raids on Hai’s drug factory and an attempt on his life in his nightclub are standout scenes and appetizers for the final throw down.  

Unfortunately, the film’s most ambitious action scene, a fight between characters on motorcycles, is ruined by some extremely obvious green screen work that reveals the bikes are stationary and the background moving. The scene was obviously inspired by The Villainess, and they should have gone the same route as it did and mounted the bikes on a truck. The CGI explosions that pepper the film are, as expected, on the same level.

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The last act brings a twist that provides Furies with its link to Furie but will probably alienate more than a few viewers. The ending it leads to does feel like it fits the tone of the film, as well as setting up a probable third installment. While I understand the marketing realities for a film like this, given the different tones and fairly thin plot thread connecting the two films a part of me wishes this had been made as a stand-alone film.

Despite that, Furies is an excellent piece of Asian action whose darker elements help set it apart from so many other recent films. It’s a nasty, brutal, bit of business and hopefully, it’ll do well enough that we’ll see more like it.

Furies is available on Netflix in the usual assortment of language options. And, as usual, this review is based on the English subtitled version. And if you’re in the mood for more furious female fronted fight flicks, FilmTagger can offer some suggestions.

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