Growing up, I remembered coming home from school and rushing to complete my homework as quickly and as accurately as possible. Why? So I could watch the latest episode of the newest TVB drama available. Ah, the memories of Dagger Li (Tieu Ly Phi Dao) defeating enemies with just one dagger… the twists and turns of Trinket’s (Loc Dinh Ky) adventures… or seeing all five original tigers in the Yang’s Saga (Duong Gia Tuong). And, let’s not forget the distinctive opening tune of any Justice Pao series (Bao Thanh Thien) or the simply awesome sparkling golden eyes of the Monkey King (Tay Du Ky). My childhood have conditioned me to enjoy these ancient wuxia and/or fantasy pieces even to this day.
Thus, when I chanced upon the trailer to “Thien Menh Anh Hung” (I want to translate this as “Fate of Hero,” but “Dong Mau Anh Hung” apparently was translated to “The Rebel” instead of “Blood of Heroes”. Unfortunately, I do not know what the internationally accepted translation is as of this point), I was delighted at first glance. Then, I was disappointed, for I discovered that it was just a 90-minute film and not a full-length series as I had thought. But, no harm done, yet. As a matter of fact, I was surprised to see that the film was not Chinese in origin. “Thien Menh Anh Hung,” a Vietnamese martial film based on the novel “Buc Huyet Thu” (“Blood Letter”), tells the story of a man who discovered that his family was executed for a crime they did not commit. He was the sole survivor and thus embarked on a journey to seek justice and revenge. It is directed by Victor Vu and was just released last month
Is “Thien Menh Anh Hung” a step forward for Vietnamese cinema or is this a simple copycat of existing films?
The film, for one, has been praised for its gorgeous imagery and well-choreographed swordplay (action choreographer is superstar Johnny Tri Nguyen of “The Rebel” and “Clash”.) The costumes were more elaborate and its budget exceeded many previous Vietnamese works.
On the other hand, the story definitely harkened back to scenes from classic Chinese drama.
Male lead whose family was wrongly murdered (Heroes of the Marshes/Thuy Hu)
Moreover, the storyline is a delicate weave between fictional and historical characters and events of Vietnam – much like the way Jin Yong (Kim Dung) writes his work. And, yes, in school, we are first taught to replicate others’ work before creating our own masterpieces. So, is “Thien Menh Anh Hung” only the Vietnamese version of “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon,” “Hero,” “House of Flying Dagger” and likewise or does “Thien Menh Anh Hung” rightfully deserve to be praised as equally as these latter films?