A young man who struggles through life by earning some money with his bicycle-taxi in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city) gets contact to a group of criminals. They introduce him to the mafia-world ... See full summary »
A young man who struggles through life by earning some money with his bicycle-taxi in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city) gets contact to a group of criminals. They introduce him to the mafia-world of drugs and crime. Written by
Possibly the most stunningly visual film ever made
While Tran Anh Hung's "Cyclo" is one of the most stunningly visual films that I have ever seen, I have heard it commented that it is merely "eye candy." I think that this statement could most certainly be argued for by someone who isn't very perceptive. Because although "Cyclo" is a film that is very much a film that is about movement and composition, it is much more than simply "eye candy." It is, I think, one of the greatest films I have ever seen. "Cyclo"'s influences are easy to identify. There are strong elements of French New Wave style apparent throughout. It is also easy to spot the influence of some of the more recent stylized Hong Kong action pictures. But "Cyclo" is obviously not a French New Wave film, and it is no action picture. While it may contain these elements, it is itself a true original - completely unlike anything I've ever seen before. And although Tran's earlier film, "The Scent of Green Papaya" was very good and showed much promise, Tran's follow-up caught me completely off-guard. It simply blows his previous effort out of the water. "Cyclo" has a complex narrative structure that makes it one of the reasons why it's more than eye candy. It is mad, rambling, almost constantly moving (employing excellent handheld camerawork) and can leave the viewer frustrated and confused. It doesn't follow a linear pattern, but seems to branch off whenever it feels like it to follow some other goings-on. In this respect I am reminded of John Cassavetes, and wonder if Tran modeled this seemingly loose style after his works. The story of "Cyclo" is that of a young man who practically supports his family as a pedicab driver ("cyclo") on the mean streets of Saigon. When the pedicab is stolen by some thugs, the young man turns to a gang member (Hong Kong star Tony Leung) to help him retrieve it. Eventually it leads him to a life of petty crime, and in one of the more spectacular scenes in the film he buys a bottle of gasoline from a young kid and then buys the shirt off the kid's back, tears the shirt, stuffs the end in the bottle, lights it on fire and proceeds to throw his homemade bomb into an empty warehouse - all in the middle of the day, surrounded by people rushing by on bicycles.
The young man's (who is never named, as are any of the other characters in the film) story is weaved in with the story of the silent gangster Leung and the young man's sister, who is a prostitute in the gangster's employ. It's also so much more than that, but I'm in a rush so I'm not going to go into a lengthy plot synapsis but I very much recommend this film for a variety of reasons.
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