24 user 27 critic

Cyclo (1995)

Xích lô (original title)
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 »



4 wins. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

With the brilliant Vietnamese summer as a setting Vertical Ray of the Sun is beautiful from beginning to end. The plot centres around three sisters, two of whom are happily married (or so ... See full summary »

Director: Tran Anh Hung
Stars: Tran Nu Yên-Khê, Nhu Quynh Nguyen, Le Khanh
Drama | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A little girl, Mui, went to a house as a new servant. The mother still mourns the death of her daughter, who would have been Mui's age. In her mind she treated Mui as her daughter. 10 years... See full summary »

Director: Tran Anh Hung
Stars: Tran Nu Yên-Khê, Man San Lu, Thi Loc Truong
    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
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 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: Thien Tu Tran, Truong Ngoc Anh, Khanh Quoc Nguyen
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
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Set along the southern coast of Vietnam during the French occupation in the 1940s, water is everywhere, giving life and bringing decay and rot. Kim is 15; his father and step-mother have ... See full summary »

Director: Minh Nguyen-Vo
Stars: The Lu Le, Thi Kieu Trinh Nguyen, Huu Thanh Nguyen
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
Bi, dung so! (2010)
    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: Di Dang Phan
Stars: Thanh Minh Phan, Thi Kieu Trinh Nguyen, Ha Phong Nguyen
Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Take a walk into the weird world of filmmaker Raul Ruiz as he takes us to Paris for a twisted ride. A man who shares four names and four personalities (which is the real one?) is the link ... See full summary »

Director: Raoul Ruiz
Stars: Marcello Mastroianni, Anna Galiena, Marisa Paredes
Action | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

In French ruled Vietnam in 1922, the French and Vietnamese officers plot to sniff out arch-rebel De Canh. But, Officer Cuong is disabused. He and De Canh's daughter, rebel Vo Thanh Thuy, ... See full summary »

Director: Charlie Nguyen
Stars: Johnny Nguyen, Veronica Ngo, Dustin Nguyen
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 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
Gabbeh (1996)
Drama | Mystery | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

An elderly couple go about their routine of cleaning their gabbeh (a intricately-designed rug), while bickering gently with each other. Magically, a young woman appears, helping the two ... See full summary »

Director: Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Stars: Shaghayeh Djodat, Hossein Moharami, Rogheih Moharami


Cast overview, first billed only:
Le Van Loc ...
Poet (as Tony Chiu Wai Leung)
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 Dog Park (1998) See more »


See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A lyrical and hallucinatory vision
2 May 2004 | by (Vancouver, B.C.) – See all my reviews

In Vietnam, a cyclo is both the driver of a bicycle taxi and a name given to the taxi itself. In Tran Anh Hung's 1995 film Cyclo, the cyclo driver is a naïve 18-year old (Le Van Loc) whose innocence is corrupted by the choices he is compelled to make to escape the circle of grinding poverty. Cyclo is far removed from the director's introspective and contemplative dramas (Scent of Green Papaya, Vertical Ray of the Sun) that preceded and followed it. In Cyclo, Tran assaults our senses with the churning swirl of colors and sounds of Ho Chi Minh City, capturing the vibrations of the city with its street markets, pavement cafes, sidewalk vendors, and choking traffic. He also shows the underbelly of the city: its violence, flesh for hire, and atmosphere of poverty, dirt, and decay. While the violence is graphic and unsettling, it is not exploitative and without the glamour associated with gangster films. Cyclo has little dialogue, mostly gestures and silences, and cinematographer Benoit Delhomme's focus on the underlying beauty of the city gives the film a lyricism that renders the violence ambiguous.

Cyclo has lost both parents and lives in near poverty with his grandfather (Le Kinh Huy), who continues to work fixing bicycle tires despite his failing health. His younger sister (Phan Ngoc Lieu) earns a living by shining shoes outside of restaurants and the older sister (Tran Nu Yen-Khe) works as a cook and delivery person. Cyclo's father was also a pedicab driver but was killed when he was hit by a truck. Cyclo's boss (Nguyen Nhu) is known only as the Boss Lady (none of the characters in the film are named) who leads a criminal operation while taking care of her retarded son (Bjuhoang Huy). When Cyclo's bicycle is stolen by a rival gang, the young man is recruited by the Boss lady and her associate, The Poet (Tony Leung Chiu Wai), a small-time hoodlum and pimp, to work off his debt.

The Poet is involved with robberies, sabotage, drug trafficking, and prostitution and is no stranger to homicide. He is strangely sympathetic to Cyclo, however, and seems to share with him the common longing for an absent father as revealed in the poetry he reads to him. Cyclo asks to join his gang but, in response, is forced to witness a mobster singing lullabies while he knifes a victim who is bound and gagged. Unknown to Cyclo, the Poet recruits his older sister into prostitution, making her available to men interested in various fetishes while preserving her virginity, presumably out of his own love for her. When her virginity is finally violated, The Poet tracks down and brutally murders the offending patron. Cyclo is forced to stay in an apartment away from his family and told to perform errands for the gang such as smuggling dope hidden in slaughtered cattle and throwing a gasoline firebomb into the building of the rival gang that stole his pedicab.

Tran's vision is hallucinatory and unnerving and I often found myself unable to distinguish between what is real and what is a dream. The story is told from Cyclo's perspective and we enter his mind to witness his steady descent into confusion and fear, culminating in a memorable sequence where he combines pills and liquor and drenches himself in blue paint. Cyclo is disturbing and raw but it is an original work of art, both a brutal and often bizarre look at Saigon's mean streets, and a searing love poem to the city and a young man who finally steps outside the vicious circle to discover himself beyond the chaos.

36 of 37 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: