Above: Huong Ga (Rise) Promotional Poster (C) 2014 TNA Entertainment All rights reserved, image used for promotional purposes only not monetized.
Greetings valued Dan's Movie Report and Action-Flix.com readers across my desk today comes a film from Vietnam from Executive Producer and Actress Truong Ngoc Anh. Directed by Cuong Ngo (Truy Sat )and debuting way back in 2014 this movie is rather hard to find, some areas of the world have it on Netflix. Essentially what Huong Ga boils down to is a female gangster film, told from the perspective of lead character Huong Ga – (Truong Ngoc Anh). Writers Minh Ngoc Nguyen & Dinh Tu Nguyen craft a provocative yarn fraught with the seething gangster underworld. Minh penned another Truong Ngoc Anh movie in 2011 called 'Pearls of the Far East' also directed by Cuong Ngo .\
Actually this is Truong Ngoc Anh's first foray into the action realm and it is quite entertaining. Of course, the story begins here. As in the beginning of 'Rise' we see Huong Ha as a youngster. A coming of age story, yet unlike 'The Lost Boys' or 98 percent other coming of age stories this one is more a personal female rise to power story. Yes guys are in the movie in prominent roles but the perspective if purely feminine. Of course a guy can enjoy 'Rise' as there are drug deals, pretty stylized yet gritty violence, and some decent action. Truong Ngoc Anh clearly used this film as a springboard to various other skills including learning wire work for her Vietnam Next Top Model and the 2016 film 'Truy Sat' to work harder on the action. In fact we just chatted and she still tells me she works out two hours a day to stay in shape.
Huong Ga sadly no real spoiler loses her mom in the early portion of the film and is forced to live with her grandmother. Her grandmother is barely scraping by with a small stand selling nick knacks, but she wants better for her granddaughter. The big plot point comes when a scuffle breaks out and Huong Ga has to defend herself and ends up burning part of the market down. Literally the movie progresses into a downward spiral of despair as the film deals with sensitive subjects such as rape, a self defense killing, and loss of a loved one.
Interspersed with action, 'Rise' really works well when the emotions are displayed. More often than not, action films are just that all action, and not much of a story. 'Rise' focuses on the story, the play between rival gangs and the human toll it takes. Worthy of note, Vietnam has very strict firearm laws so much of the action is visceral and involves sticks, hands, feet, elbows, or in one extreme case a BMW running over the gangsters!. With so much gun play and Gun-Fu in films 'Rise' offers a 'Gangs of New York' feel, angry and personal. Small crimes lead to bigger ones, spiraling out of control, luring the audience in to see what is next for Huong Ga and her gang. Actor Kim Ly as Tung gives a soulful performance as a gangster with a soul, understated, yet aggressive. With each death and prison sentence, she becomes hardened. As hard as she is, she still has to deal with rival gangs and she gets beat up pretty bad about 55 minutes in, no spoilers. Some gangster dialogue a rival gang leader tells Huong Ga “ There is only room for one tiger in the jungle.” She says to him, “Don't you think it is time to give up the jungle... since you've already been declawed. Well that escalated quickly note to self be nice to TNA at all times! Needless to say after that wordy exchange a fight broke out, a big one!
'Rise' rolls in at just under 93 minutes, the length allowed for a good mix of dialogue and action, never really bogging down. The emotional level is high, even if the action is a bit unpolished. Given the recent rise of Vietnam in action films with 'Truy Sat' and 'Furie', the sky is the limit when in 2021 Truong Ngoc Anh sets her sites on producing a follow up film to 'Rise'! Yep that is true, Initially it was supposed to film in 2020, but do to the global pandemic all productions in Vietnam and for that matter everywhere else has been halted. Only now December 2020, can things progress filming in Vietnam, and they are!
Overall 'Rise' rates a strong 7.5 out of 10, it is very good, and I am sure the sequel will also be well received. In addition to 'Huong Ga 2” 'Aka Rise 2', Truong Ngoc Anh looks to ramp up production on 'She Kings' in 2021. Keep it locked on Dan's Movie Report and Action-Flix.com for production updates!
The film screened in the USA in early 2016, below is an official trailer from Houston Screening, with English subtitles.
Connect with 'Rise' and the sequel:
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NhatKyHuongGa/
TNA Entertainment Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tnaentertainment
IMDB for 'Rise' https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3914400