Furie, the highest grossing Vietnamese movie of all time, took North America’s digital platform by storm last month. What’s perhaps even more notable is how the vehicle has propelled Veronia Ngo to action heroine status. Ngo (Bright, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) stars as provoked mother Hai Phuong who will do anything (and fight anyone) to save her kidnapped daughter.
Wylie Writes’ Shannon Page (who dug Furie and called Ngo’s performance “gripping and committed”) was honoured to ask the rising action star about her latest film, as well as pick her brain about martial arts filmmaking and what she hopes Furie’s success means for the future of Vietnamese cinema.
Shannon Page: Congratulations on the success of Furie! What drew you to this role? Do you see any of yourself in Hai Phuong?
Veronica Ngo: Thank you for your nice words! The motivation for me to take on this role in Furie is my passion for martial arts and professional crafted battles. Furie is also the film marks my return as an action star after 12 years I focused on producing my movie projects. The similarity between Hai Phuong and me is the love for family, the determination to pursue the right thing.
SP: Furie was full of memorable action sequences. Which one was the most challenging to film?
VN: Furie has a total of seven heavy actions scenes and six small ones. The martial arts mainly used in the film is “Vovinam” – a Vietnamese martial art that requires physical strength and endurance from actors. The final combat with the boss, Thanh Soi, was a scene that had completely devastated my strength for this movie. It took one week – continuously – to film this last battle. After finishing this scene, I could not control my body movement. It was really a terrifying challenge that I experienced.
SP: In your opinion, what are the most important elements of a good martial arts film?
VN: In my opinion, the important factors to make a good martial arts film are the logical and tight plots, as well as the action sequences. The latter needs to bring a “real-feel” for audiences. In Furie, we have all of those factors
SP: Were there any female heroines that inspired you growing up?
VN: Angelina Jolie is the symbol I want to follow.
SP: You have previously worked on American films like Bright and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Do you see yourself doing more American films in the future?
VN: Currently, I am participating in The Old Guard, a movie by director Gina Prince-Bythewood starring Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Marwan Kenzari, Matthias Schoenaerts and Chiwetel Ejiofor. For me, playing a role in an international film is a great opportunity for me to be able to expand my relationship and learn how to make films in the world’s most professional film industry. When opportunities come, I am always trying to arrange my schedule and prioritize working with them.
SP: In addition to film, your career has also spanned television, music and modeling. Do you have any plans to return to these other areas?
VN: Currently, I just want to focus all of my efforts on making films. My goal is to introduce Vietnamese culture and people to audiences around the world through my produced films. To be an actress is my passion, but my goal is to always develop cinema from my home country.
SP: The film seems to be resonating well with North American critics (and audiences). Do you think that Furie will pave the way for other Vietnamese films to reach a broader global market?
VN: Furie is considered to be the first movie that Vietnam could release almost at the same time in North America. The screenings were increased everyday in North American markets because of the continuous compliments from audiences and the good reviews from popular U.S critics. China will be the next market that Furie will be released in.
I hope Furie will act as a motivation for Vietnamese filmmakers to produce more high-quality film projects, and acquire more opportunities in international markets.
Furie is now available on DVD, Blu-ray, VOD, and Digital HD.
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Shannon Page: @ShannonEvePage