Summary: A young man who is a cyclo driver is struggling to earn money for his family after the loss of their father. In order to provide more money after losing his cycle to thieves he gets swept into the world of crime by a group of criminals. One the man, the Poet, also leads his sister into the same world through prostitution. So she won't lose her virginity though she mainly caters to fetishes including feet washing. The families' problems have only just begun though as not everything in the crime world goes as planned.
Acting: Le Van Loc is the lad as well what he is known as is Cyclo. Actually everyone in the movie doesn't have a name outside of their role or job title in the movie. I felt that Loc and really everyone in the movie does a great job with acting, and bringing their roles to life. The most famous face in the movie might be Tony Chi Wai Leung. Even though he is actually Chinese, he is in the Vietnamese movie. He is one of the most memorable characters though, Poet. My biggest problem with the Poet wasn't Leung's acting, he's actually a great actor, but more so that he was just this quiet guy who seemed to cry about all his sorrow's without seeking to correct it. He's just smoking and reciting poetry in the middle of crime. Very emo. Tran Nu Yen-Khe is the Sister, and I think the director's wife? I thought she was well cast regardless though. She brought a lot to the role, but honestly you question why she got into prostitution in the first place? Was it to please the Poet who she loved? Or was it to provide for her family? Regardless because of the unsafe circumstances that the Poet seemed to pressure her into, and her overly need to impress him you just never feel anything but well pity for the two. The only other major performance seemed to be from the crime leader herself, Madam, who is portrayed by Nhu Quynh Nguyen. She gives a very haunting performance as a woman who dotes over her mentally and physically ill son.
Filming: This movie more than anything is just very artsy. There are lots of usage of color, lights, and shots to keep it compelling. There are a few memorable scenes that stand out as well, such as when the Poet and the Sister are at a club, where is he basically looking to prostitute her again. The Radiohead song, "Creep" is perfectly set in this 90's movie with the very dark backdrop of what is happening between the characters in the film. It's the way that the director shoots the scenes and combines music and silence as well at certain intervals to keep the viewer compelled.
Plot: The plot is very straight forward, and the dialogue seems far and few between. It's not the words that make these people close though, but more so their actions for one another. I think that is why I didn't feel extremely connected at all times. It's a very emotionless movie for the most part where instead the actions speak louder than words. Every character in this movie is trying to face the hardship of what they are doing in order to sacrifice for the ones they care about, whether it's to make money to provide or to please another for love.
Now Cyclo is a really long movie, and it's a very difficult movie to watch. Sometimes the scenes are graphically violent, and other times the horror of sexual degradation happening in the movie is almost too much to get through. If there is anything that Tran Anh Hung does communicate it's the harsh world these character's live in, and the ending only makes you wonder how long their peace can last again till it's interrupted.
Rating 7.5 of 10.