Down 16,161 this week

Cyclo (1995)
"Xich lo" (original title)

 |  Crime, Drama  |  2 August 1996 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.4/10 from 3,622 users  
Reviews: 24 user | 28 critic

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 »



0Check in

Family Entertainment Guide

Check out IMDb's comprehensive Family Entertainment Guide for recommendations for movies and TV series for every age and every viewing platform.

Visit our Family Entertainment Guide

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

list image
a list of 31 titles
created 24 Oct 2010
a list of 32 titles
created 28 Jul 2011
a list of 38 titles
created 02 Aug 2011
a list of 41 titles
created 02 Apr 2013
a list of 38 titles
created 20 Feb 2014

Related Items

Search for "Cyclo" on

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: Cyclo (1995)

Cyclo (1995) on IMDb 7.4/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Cyclo.
4 wins. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

In modern-day Saigon, three lonely strangers form a unique family as a ten-year old orphan plays matchmaker to a zookeeper and a beautiful flight attendant.

Director: Stephane Gauger
Stars: Cat Ly, The Lu Le, Han Thi Pham
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Toru recalls his life in the 1960s, when his friend Kizuki killed himself and he grew close to Naoko, Kizuki's girlfriend, and another woman, the outgoing, lively Midori.

Director: Tran Anh Hung
Stars: Ken'ichi Matsuyama, Rinko Kikuchi, Kiko Mizuhara
Three Seasons (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

An American in Ho Chi Minh City looks for a daughter he fathered during the war. He meets Woody, a child who's a street vendor, and when Woody's case of wares disappears, he thinks the ... See full summary »

Director: Tony Bui
Stars: Ngoc Hiep Nguyen, Ngoc Minh, Phat Trieu Hoang
Pao's Story (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Set in a breath-taking primitive landscape in the mountainous provinces of Vietnam, the film tells the story of a Hmong tribe girl named Pao. She was raised by her stepmother, for her real ... See full summary »

Director: Quang Hai Ngo
Stars: Do Thi Hai Yen, Hoa Thuy Do, Thanh Kha Ly
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

In an old house in Hanoi, Bi, a 6-year-old child lives with his parents, his aunt and their cook. His favorite playgrounds are an ice factory and the wild grass along the river. After being... See full summary »

Director: Dang Di Phan
Stars: Thanh Minh Phan, Thi Kieu Trinh Nguyen, Ha Phong Nguyen
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Thirteen years after the end of the Vietnam War, a family who was tragically affected by the war are forced to emigrate to America.

Director: Ham Tran
Stars: Kieu Chinh, Long Nguyen, Diem Lien
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Seven stories about Vietnamese women spanning different generations, exploring their inner lives and forbidden loves.

Director: Cuong Ngo
Stars: Truong Ngoc Anh, Kieu Chinh, Kris Duangphung
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Wartime epic involving a poverty-stricken family who struggle to make ends meet, and the mother who does the unthinkable to provide her daughters with the traditional silk dresses required to attend school.

Director: Luu Huynh
Stars: Truong Ngoc Anh, Khanh Quoc Nguyen, Nhu Quynh Nguyen
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  

Ex-Los Angeles cop turned private eye travels to Hong Kong in search of the missing son of a billionaire.

Director: Tran Anh Hung
Stars: Josh Hartnett, Tran Nu Yên-Khê, Byung-hun Lee
Deseret (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

James Benning took the founding of the New York Times in 1851 as a departure point for his latest film, Deseret. In the best Benning tradition, Deseret unfolds magnificent landscapes ... See full summary »

Director: James Benning
Stars: Fred Gardner
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The film portrays the life of a family separated from the mainstream of modern society, yet containing within its microcosm the complex layers and dramas of human relationship: conjugal ... See full summary »

Director: Phan Quang Binh Nguyen
Stars: Tang Thanh Ha, Ninh Duong Lan Ngoc, Dustin Nguyen
Director: Tran Anh Hung
Stars: Mélanie Laurent, Audrey Tautou, Bérénice Bejo


Cast overview, first billed only:
Le Van Loc ...
Tran Nu Yên-Khê ...
Nhu Quynh Nguyen ...
Hoang Phuc Nguyen ...
Ngo Vu Quang Hal ...
Tuyet Ngan Nguyen ...
Happy Woman
Doan Viet Ha ...
Sad Woman
Bjuhoang Huy ...
Crazy Son
Vo Vinh Phuc ...
Cyclo's Friend
Le Kinh Huy ...
Pham Ngoc Lieu ...
Little Sister
Tuân Anh Lê ...
Handcuff Man
Le Cong Tuan Anh ...
Drunken Dancer
Van Day Nguyen ...
Lullaby Man


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 Volker Boehm

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


From the director of the Academy Award Nominated film "The Scent of Green Papaya" comes a shocking new vision of beauty, passion and power.


Crime | Drama


See all certifications »



| |


Release Date:

2 August 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cyclo  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$38,109 (USA) (2 August 1996)


$82,620 (USA) (9 August 1996)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


"Visa d'exploitation" in France: #83320 See more »


Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »


See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A daring triumph, which isn't afraid of its audience.
18 June 2002 | by (Oslo, Norway) – See all my reviews

First of all I was blown away by the strong visual quality of Cyclo. Directed by the talented Ahn-Hung Tran, a Vietnamese/French director. This is his second film after the critically acclaimed `Scent of a Green Papaya'. The film looks and feels like a visual poem, and you can't do anything but be awestricken by the sheer intensity and power of the images and their composition that are expressed towards you. Even if their exact meaning isn't always clear to us.

In visual terms I would say that the director borrows more from photographers and video artists than other films. What emerges from this is a bold and powerful film. But unlike his fellow film director such as Wong Kar-Wai (In the Mood for Love, Fallen Angels), whose films can sometimes give you the same feel as leafing through a hip photo magazine. Tran's film is more collected, even though it can be made a point out of the plot at times being a bit sketchy.

The story circles around a young cyclo (played by Le Van Loc), a bicycle taxi driver (pedicab), his older sister and her lover / ex-lover the local hoodlum, know as the poet ( played by Hong Kong star Tony Leung). We don't learn any of their real names; even the film credits them as the cyclo, the sister, the poet, the grandfather, the madam etc.

The cyclo has lost both his parents and is currently living with his siblings and his grandfather. The film gives us a unique view of the contrasts and the poverty of Saigon. Everyone in this household has to work, in order to make ends meet. The cyclo drives his pedicab looking for passengers. His younger sister shines shoes after school. The beautiful older sister cooks and carries water from the marked, and even the old grandfather repairs tyres.

The chain of events starts rolling when the cyclo gets jumped by rivals who steal his pedicab and beat him up. The cyclo who was employed by the local gang boss, the madam, is now forced into taking up petty crimes, under her sponsorship to pay for his cab. But instead of returning to a normal life, he is pressured by the madam's gang led by the silent gangster the poet, to commit even more violent crimes, on madams behalf.

The poet however, is at the same time living a second life as a pimp, under which guise he recruits the cyclos elder sister (presumably because she and her family need the money). There is also a clear indication that she and the poet are either lovers or have been so.

But trying to follow or find the plot of the film is missing the whole point of this film. Events occur suddenly for no direct reason, while other times, events don't occur as you as a viewer expect them to. The film follows a dynamic structure reflecting the human spontaneity. Events are sometimes difficult to make out, because the director clearly doesn't believe in feeding us information with a spoon. It's liberating to watch a film that isn't afraid of its audience, and deliberately has a storytelling that leaves much up to our imagination and interpretation of event. There is such room for speculation, because Tran leaves a whole continent of emotions and information unexposed.

Let me just point out that this is not a bad thing in anyway. We are raised upon a tradition of films that force-feed us their purpose. Formula based clichés where you know where the film is going and what's going to happen after watching 10 min of it. What Ahn-Hung Tran does is both daring and plausible: breaking new ground and expanding our horizons.

As I mentioned, that trying to follow the plot is to miss the point of this film. It reminds me of French new wave aesthetics and the work by John Cassavetes. While most films and their characters are more about doing instead of being, this film does the direct opposite. It seems like the story is serving the purpose of exposing a distinct character emotions, instead of the western plot driven stories, where characters serve as devices to push the plot forward.

Tran has a great eye for visual composition and picking out details he want to show. The films story could easily have turned into something uninteresting and shallow. But the attention the right detail along with the decision to show consequences of situations instead of action and confrontation makes this a unique insight of human nature.

The main characters are all mostly silent throughout the film. This strengthens the feeling of them being almost passive accepting of the choices pressed upon them. Because the cyclo, his sister and the poet are all in one way or another force to do what they're doing, either by each other or by their environment. With this minimal amount of dialog, the majority of the scenes are more dependant of the characters actions or more: their reactions. Their expressions and body language conveys their desires and torments, without ever becoming sentimental.

Ahn Hung Tran's storytelling suits the exquisite minimalist approach the cinematographer Benoit Delhomme turns toward the material. The films fixation with fluids is also quite interesting choice. All kind of fluids play a visual and symbolic role throughout the entire film: water, mud, sweat, paint, even urine and blood. Everything ads to the visual flow of the film.

Evoking an incredible atmosphere of chaos, helter-skelter activity that seems to follow no law, the strength of cyclo lies in its imagery. Stunning colours and cascade of metaphors, on many different levels, constructs a coherent picture of the world. The main story is regularly intertwined by photomontages from Saigon: everything from the city streets of Saigon, or a montage of all the residents of a particular block, classroom of children singing Vietnamese songs. And a quite surreal funny scene of a helicopter carrier that tips over with its military helicopter, in the middle of heavy street traffic. Everything is connected with a kind of dream logic that's hard to define, where things just fit together even if they logically shouldn't.

The film is a beautiful daring triumph, which isn't afraid of its audience. It will make you reflect over it long after you have seen it. And isn't that what all good art should do ?

25 of 28 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
This is the fundamental note... twoprudentialplaza
great movie, but not released due to animal use? a_hat_trick
missing scenes or bad translation? quirky_182
How gritty and violent is this film? Scaleb_47
singer in the park my_co82
Literature about Cyclo groucho-marcs
Discuss Cyclo (1995) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: