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Vu khuc con co (2002)

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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 60 users  
Reviews: 3 user | 3 critic

A story about young men who had to go war to protest their country. Each of them has his own story.

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Title: Vu khuc con co (2002)

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From Ha Noi, those young guys join army to protest their country. They left behind their family, love, youth and carried hopes, faith and dreams. Van is poem. May (means Lucky) always smiles. Manh is just a kid. Lam is secret agent in city. Their own stories are told by a lot of people who survive after Vietnamese War, from both of sides. Written by Phan Xi Ne <>

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Release Date:

2 April 2003 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Song of the Stork  »

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Interesting perspective that falls short.
24 April 2003 | by (Singapore) – See all my reviews

At last, a film about the Vietnam war, shot in Vietnam and from the VC's perspective.

The film's story is told in the form of personal accounts from a Vietnamese war veteran, who was a cameraman with the Viet Cong army. It takes on a docu-drama mode from this point, intercutting his archival footage of life among the soldiers and their battles, along with "re-enactments" of the lives of the characters involved.

Political ideologies are almost non-existent in this film, no mention of Communism even among the soldiers. Not one of them seemed to question their loyalty to the army. This could be due to censorship issues in Vietnam. Instead, the soldiers are shown as caring, jovial and loving men, with strong emotional ties to their families. Ordinary men. Not the trap-laying and cunning guerilla forces as depicted in many western films.

However, I feel the film falls prey to its very own devices. Its form and story doesn't seem to work together.

The one quality from this film was its cinematography - alone. Well composed mise-en-scene, poetic long shots of the country's landscape, well-lit, overhead crane shots and even slo-mo. However, these scenes were often accompanied by an overbearing, melodramatic soundtrack, that instead of complementing the shots, work against it. Coupled with average acting and a below average script, you feel like you're watching some soap-opera. As a result, an "artificial" and "glossy" feel permeates the drama scenes and you're always aware of their constructed reality. This awareness is further heightened when the film cuts back to archival footage and the modern-day veteran scenes, which were also shot in a similar fashion.

Though not a combat film, the battle scenes also seem to suffer from a lack of authenticity. I say "seem" because I do not know what it was like to be there then. How can a soldier's uniform and face be clean after days in the jungle? Americans that didn't look like Americans. One American soldier even spoke in a weird accent. Such little mistakes to mise-en-scene just further reduces the film's credibilty.

I felt one of the film's best moments was ruined due to poor editing. Two men, who just 30 years ago were enemies, sit below a tree near a padi field and begin chatting. It was an American war veteran and the narrator of the film, the Viet war cameraman. The American wants to forget the past and reconcile differences. The Vietnamese mentions how he feared the American choppers with their arsenal and the other states that he could possibly be one of the gunners then onboard. The film then cuts this scene with long shots of the padi fields and landscapes, farmers ploughing, very long shots of the duo from afar, distracting us from this poignant conversation. The focus should have been on them. To make things worse, the dialogue for this scene was also outside of sync (maybe it was the theatre I was in?).

Thus, we get a film that's based on true accounts, tries to make us identify with the characters and fails because its drama sequences could not fit into and work with its documentary premise. Its efforts at showing a more humanitarian view of the war just could not be brought across.

I would have loved to see the war cameraman talking through his footage (which we see so little of) though.

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