In the NBA, there are superstar athletes and role-players. Superstars enter the game and dazzle you with their supreme talent. Their incredible performances etch themselves into your brain, never to be forgotten. In terms of action movies, films like The Raid and SPL: Kill Zone are star performers.
All too often, the role-player overestimates their abilities and bites off more than they can chew. Their ambition and overzealousness lead to mistakes that get them benched while their team catches a loss. Too many films fall into this category (but this one stands out). But the right role-player is a sight to behold. Solid role-players play within themselves to maximize their abilities and are the glue that holds a winning team together.
Le-Van Kiet’s action flick Furie is like the best type of role player. With its modest budget, gritty fight scenes, and dynamo action star, Furie knows what tier of movie it’s gunning for. It can’t compete with the Mission: Impossible Fallout’s of the world, so it stays within its own lane. And by keeping his ambition in check, Kiet perfectly executes his vision.
Furie exists on the same action movie corner staked out by films starring guys like Scott Adkins and Michael Jai White. So, people who enjoy Tony Jaa movie deep dives will find themselves in familiar territory. Like its gritty, low-budget contemporaries, Furie comes spring-loaded with a melodramatic plot, frenetic pacing, and hyper-violent fight scenes.
Furie’s plot is as straight-forward as they come. When an organ harvesting ring kidnap Hai Phuong’s (Veronica Ngo) child Mai (Cat Vi), the angry mother will stop at nothing to get her daughter back. It turns out that those organ-harvesters f#cked with the wrong mother. Hai Phuong works as an enforcer for a group of loan sharks, and she goes around busting up people who don’t pay what they owe. The lady is a lethal killing fighting machine who’s not afraid to lay the smackdown on whoever stands in her way. The premise is just the right amount of pulpy ridiculousness you want from this type of movie.
Cinematographer Morgan Schmidt does a solid job capturing the frantic action. He’s not afraid to go eerie and surreal with his lighting to capture the right mood. Some shots are so stylishly lit they look ripped from comic books and video games. Schmidt capture’s the action drenched in eye-popping fluorescent pinks and blues reminiscent of John Wick’s bathhouse murder-spree. It’s an impressive visual flourish that makes Furie stand out from lesser films with similar budgets. And once the fighting pops off, his camera whips around with the fisticuffs; shaking, rattling, and rolling with every brutal punch.
Veronica Ngo shows a level of acting chops rarely seen in these small-scale crime flicks. Even if you’re just here for Furie’s action sequences, Ngo has the goods to win you over. She’s no Liam Neeson in Taken or Denzel Washington in Man on Fire, but her character possesses elements of both those iconic roles. Hai Phuong comes off as a dark and brooding badass as she leaves a blood-soaked warpath in her wake.
Ngo kicks all kinds of ass in this film. Furie reaches some glorious highs as Ngo pummels fools into oblivion. I can’t believe Star Wars: The Last Jedi relegated her to such a bit role. We need more female action stars, and Ngo has the talent and physicality to tear shit up in big budget movies. Hey Hollywood, want to make a lot of money? Cast Ngo in a female-led version of The Expendables. Put her behind the wheel in a Fast and the Furious movie. Make her the villain in Ocean’s 9. If Ngo’s agent’s phone isn’t ringing off the hook right now, all is not right with the world.
Furie isn’t in the running for 2019’s best action movie – it’s not even in my top ten so far this year. But it’s a decent crime flick that holds your attention for 98-minutes. Sometimes a disposable action movie is all you need to kill some time, and Furie perfectly fills that role.