1. Manage My TA

 

Film Review: Cyclo

Cyclo

Cyclo

Cyclo

View Photos (1)

  • Image © 2009 Celeste Heiter

The dark underbelly of Ho Chi Minh City is the setting for this enigmatic drama by writer/director Anh Hung Tran, in which a cast of characters, known only by their archetypes, Cyclo, Poet, Sister, Friend, Madam, Grandfather, et al, seek their livelihood in some rather difficult and unsavory places. Madam runs the show, with her fleet of rental pedi-cabs, and her phalanx of henchmen, holding court in her parlor while tending her developmentally disabled son.

When Cyclo's rented pedi-cab is stolen, he is at the mercy of Madam to make amends by carrying out her bidding on a series of increasingly risky and illicit errands. Meanwhile, to help make ends meet, Sister has resorted to the world of fetish prostitution and consorting with her obsessive pimp, while somehow maintaining her virginity. Grandfather repairs bicycle tires on the city sidewalks, and Little Sister shines shoes for the patrons of a busy café. With disturbing imagery and oblique metaphor, Cyclo takes on an existential quality as the purposeless characters live out their pointless lives, slowly careening toward tragedy, but powerless to stop it.

Known in Vietnamese as Xich Lo, Cyclo is one of a small but significant constellation of films by Anh Hung Tran, that also includes the critically acclaimed Vertical Ray of the Sun, and The Scent of Green Papaya. Pacing and perspective are distinctively his, and the film stars not only impressively experienced actors such as Tony Leung, whose CV includes In the Mood for Love, Hero, and Lust, Caution, but also absolute beginners such as Le Van Loc, for whom Cyclo is the only film to his credit. Many of the actors, however, have worked with director Anh Hung Tran on his other films. Released in 1995, Cyclo was filmed in and around Saigon (Ho Chi Min City), and although it was banned in Vietnam, it screened with award-winning success at international film festivals and in cinematic release.

Cyclo is a worthy cinematic work, however, for those unfamiliar with Anh Hung Tran, it would be well-advised to begin with one of his more emotionally accessible and visually pleasing films such as Vertical Ray of the Sun, or The Scent of Green Papaya before entering the lurid netherworld of Cyclo.

Published on 3/29/09

Sponsor links

Comments [0]

Add Comment

You might also be interested in

'In the Mood for Love' Film Review

Celeste Heiter - cheiter [29,255]

'Mood' is the operative word in this 1960's bittersweet period piece, written and directed by Kar Wai Wong. Known in its native language as Fa Yeung Nin Wa, In the Mood For Love stars Tony Leung as...

Destinations: Hong Kong
Topics: People | Performing Arts
Goldfish Go Home

Strangers in Strange Lands at Cinequest 2013

Celeste Heiter - cheiter [29,255]

Now in its 23rd year, the Cinequest Film Festival, held annually in San Jose, Calif., once again presents an eclectic array of independent films from all over the world.

Destinations: India | Japan | Vietnam
Topics: Culture | People | Performing Arts | 20th Century History | For Kids | War & Conflict
The Desert Fish

Salvation and Redemption: Key Themes of Asian Films at Cinequest 2014

Celeste Heiter - cheiter [29,255]

Now in its 24th year, the Cinequest Film Festival, held annually in San Jose, Calif., once again presents an impressive and eclectic array of independent films from all over the world. Each year,...

Destinations: India | Turkey | Iran | Cambodia | Vietnam | Philippines
Topics: Culture | Adventure | Performing Arts | 20th Century History | Ancient History
More Stories of Interest
ThingsAsian

ThingsAsian is an Asia travel website with maps, stories, photos and travel tips contributed by a worldwide community.

©1994-2008 Global Directions, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Contact webmaster@thingsasian.com

Web Design by Dayspring