“The Whiteboard” Review: A Little to No Dialogue Film With Characters that tell an Endearing LGBTQ Story.
Kat Wahlen’s The Whiteboard tells, or rather shows, a delightful love story between two young women who meet in detention.
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If you’re looking for an engaging female-led film that touches on the genres of action, drama, and thriller, look no further than Le-Van Kiet’s “Furie“. This tense, heart-pinching, action-packed film leaves you on the edge of your seat-and on the verge of tears.
“Furie” originally titled “Hai Phuong” is a Vietnamese film, which was released by Studio68 in February of 2019 in Vietnam and March 2019 in the United States. The film stars Veronica Ngo as Hai Phuong, Mai Cát Vi as Mai, Hoa Thanh as Thanh Wolf, and Thanh Nhien Phan as Captain Vu Trong Luong.
This film portrays the lengths a mother will go to to protect her children. Hai Phuong is a single mother to her daughter Mai, living in a small town in the countryside of Vietnam. Hai tries hard to make ends meet as a debt collector, using her particular skill set as an ex-gangster. Mai doesn’t hide her disapproving view of her mother’s source of income and insists they can find another way.
After a conversation about careers between Mai and Hai over dinner, there begins the first plug of a growing tension between the characters. Hai’s obligation to be a good mother and protect Mai is momentarily skewed when a group of people at the market accuse Mai of stealing a wallet and instead of trusting Mai, Hai tries to be a disciplinary parent with the eyes of many people watching. Mai yells what every parent dreads hearing from their child: “tao ghét mày” (“I hate you”) and runs from the scene, where Hai discovers that Mai was telling the truth about the wallet.
In this scene we see that Hai is not perfect, and she cares what others think of her and her ability to be a good mother. Instead of trusting her daughter, who pleads with her to believe her, she gives in to the nagging of on lookers who already look down on her for her source of income.
This leads Mai to leave, but before Hai can find her daughter to apologize for her disbelief, a group of men kidnap Mai in broad daylight. A long, well choreographed chase scene ensues and the audience gets to see just how skilled Hai is in martial arts.
Once the chase scene has ended and Hai loses sight of the bus that held Mai’s captors, Hai finds herself in the city she grew up in. In the city Hai confronts many aspects of her past, revealing more of who she was and how she learned to fight. Hai finally goes to the police- Captain Vu Trong Luong- for help, but she doesn’t wait around for long. She begins her search for Mai on her own, tearing down anyone in her path, and once again displaying her skills- and the talent of the film’s fight coordinator, Kefi Abrikh- with beautifully choreographed fight scenes.
The switch to the city life is also displayed in the abrupt change of lighting in the film. We say goodbye to light greens and browns of the countryside and turn to the dark blues of the city night, lit only by the reds and purples of the neon lights.
After a failed attempt to rescue Mai from Thanh Wolf, the leader of a ring of kidnappers who use children for illegal organ donating, Hai is left barely clinging to life. Hai is desperate and returns to her family home where her brother refuses to help rescue Mai, telling her that Mai is better off without her.
Captain Luong, who had been tailing her and her journey, convinces Hai to team up with him to find the kidnappers and her daughter. Together they find the train that the kidnappers are using to transport the children, and Hai fights her way through Thanh Wolf. She reunites with Mai, but must part one last time to fight the buyers who are waiting as the train stops. In this final fight scene, Hai once again finds herself on the brink of death and Mai sees how hard her mother will fight to keep her safe.
In the end, Mai grows closer to her mother and is no longer embarrassed by her mother’s ability to fight. Instead Mai asks Hai to teach her to defend herself and fight the way her mother does.
“Furie” is fierce and tear-jerking, and it is guaranteed to keep you fully invested. If you enjoy action and drama as well as strong female characters, this film is definitely a must-see.
Movie Review Originally posted January 15, 2021