This is Vietnam’s first foray into the realm of epic historical martial arts film. Don’t know about you, but that excites me! How many films from Vietnam do we get a chance to review here? The plot of “Thien Menh Anh Hung” is pretty much banal. I feel like each moment of the film reminds me of something I’ve seen in the past. Nothing new. Nothing exciting. But, what do you expect from the first of it’s kind? Tran Nguyen Vu story begins with him washing upon the temple of a monk. After a rock hard guardian lion comes to life and gives the monk some trouble no less. After twelve years this Tran is now a man and ready for action. He sets off to the city and ventures away from the temple his been at most of his life. He learns when he enters the city all is not right in his kingdom as a bunch of assassins or off to kill high officials.
One thing that stands out from the Chinese Wuxia, is the Vietnamese scenery, it’s absolutely beautiful, this is a visually stunning movie. Kudos for the cinematography of this film. You could review it against the many successful mega-epic historically accurate and mesmerizing productions from the best of the world, or you could review it from the scope of what it achieved within the budget, storyline, execution and for the market it was made for. And there is enough creativity in the action choreography to leave you impressed. The effects could have been more polished but the music and sound effects unlike even some great epics, are beautiful and crisp. I am especially drawn to the double arrowed flying assassins! Ultimately, is there room to improve? Definitely. But more importantly I sum up the entire movie as an epic milestone for Vietnamese film-making.
At first, this film is not well-acted without any painstaking effort from the producer or the director (Victor Vu). In this film, for his sake, Nguyen Vu decided to move out where he was brought up and came to the town to find out the truth. However, when the secrets were clarified, he easily refused to revenge who dared to kill all of his family. It was so ridiculous and rigid. this context should be somehow ambivalent which will either deliver a painful bane to innocent people or bring a elated boon when finally killing “demons”. Moreover, film background was definitely not impressive. Not like a Chinese drama, a city would be crowded of people and shops, but in this film, it is poorly not. But it is just one of the vanguards in making history film in Vietnam, it should not be discouraged.
Martial arts and special effects were the films bread and butter, just the mix of super powered abilities in fights made them all the more special. And all of them are in search of the possibly non-existent blood letter, a letter written in blood by a dying eunuch who knew all the secrets of the royal household at the time of the Nguyen family’s fall and the Queen’s rise. How the two sisters and Nguyen Vu meet their challengers, and what fates await them, is all in God’s hands, according to Nguyen Vu’s mentor, but perhaps he can create some of his own fate. I wouldn’t list this film among the very best of its kind, but I would buy it should it appear in blu-ray form in the future, as it was quite entertaining and very beautiful to look at. Slight Recommendation.