The Rebel (Vietnam 2006 103 min. dir: Truc “Charlie” Nquyen, cast: Johnny Nguyen, Thanh Van Ngo, Veronica Ngo, Dustin Nguyen)
Some movies don’t work, but have enough good stuff in them to fry a couch potato for an hour and a half. We’re in Vietnam, 1920′s, during the era of French Colonial rule. Anti-French rebellions are starting to shake the county and the French employ an undercover Vietnamese agent to assassinate the head of the resistance.
No one tells him two important things about the assignment: first, he’s going to see all the terrible consequences of French rule on his own people. Second, he’s going to fall in love with the beautiful daughter of the resistance leader while he’s plotting to assassinate him.
A knockout of a daughter, a tortured journey, continually challenging moral assumptions about the French: this is challenging to any braveheart. But forget romance and politics. There is only one plot stew that can cook in an Asian adventure movie: action.
Get another beer from the fridge, heat some frozen spring rolls in the microwave, and don’t miss the action scenes. The art of The Rebel is in the stunts, and these are tops in imagination and execution. You won’t learn much meaningful history about French rule in Indochina, but you will learn it’s been a fucked up country for a long time. Maybe the current era of tourist beaches and time share condos in Ho Chi Min City is actually the best.