Written August 22, 2009
Vietnamese virtuoso director Tran Ang Hung, who's most celebrated film to date, the wondrous THE SCENT OF GREEN PAPAYA , does a complete 360 degree turn here with this vibrant, visually stunning examination of thwarted youth and redemtption. Set in modern-day Saigon, the almost documetary first third of the film follows a young impoverished cyclo driver around the steamy, ugly streets with a fevered camera as he desperately tries to make a pittence of a living for he and family . After his bike is stolen by a rival gang, the boy must repay his seedy lady superior by exacting acts of crime with her underworld thugs, most notably Tony Leung in a strange departure as a poetic heavy who also dreams of getting out of the seamy gutter and finding blissful love and rest. A truly unique film in it's matter-of-fact treatment of the hard-hitting material. A must-see for anyone who looks to Asian cinema as a true gateway to anything more cinematic than our banal Hollywood drek!