Fifteen years ago, a movie theater in My Tho, Viet Nam was consisted of wooden benches, a 13″ TV and a VCR. At that time, Chinese TV series took over the Viet Nam entertainment. Despite the ghetto style, the theater was always packed. On the inside, the place was filled with audiences. On the outside, it was filled with peepers, including myself. The art of watching a film through a crack with one eye was an interesting experience. I could not afford the tickets, and my parents also banned me from watching the addictive Chinese TV series because I was not concentrating on my schoolwork.
As a peeper, I could not watch a film in peace. I had to look out for securities at the same time. Although I was a fast runner, I was caught many times because I was drawn into the fighting scenes and forgot to pay attention. One of my favorite series was Han So Tranh Hung, which based on a legendary historical era at the end of the “Tan” Dynasty where rivals fought to be in power. Names like Luu Bang, Hang Vu, Han Tin, and Truong Luong are still puzzled in my head because I was not sure who was who. Watching a film through a hole and on the run was not helping at all.
Recently, I come across Han So Ba Vuong (The Conqueror’s Story), which also based on the same tale as Han So Tranh Hung. The new series is fresher with magnificent actors including Trinh Thieu Thu (Luu Bang), Giang Hoa (Hang Vu), and Truong Kha Di (Lu Chi). The film has cleared up much confusion I had fifteen years ago. I am now understand each legend and his or her role.
Luu Bang was uneducated, horny, and afraid of death; however, his caring, loving, and devoting characters gained him respect from the people, and they would do anything for him. Luu Bang is played by Trinh Thieu Thu who captured those characters through his skillful fluctuating acting. He is an actor that could go deep inside his role.
On the flip side, Hang Vu was an educated man, enthusiastic monogamist, and an undefeatable commander in battle. Unfortunately his flaming temper and frankness turned many people away from him. Giang Hoa is an actor that is always appear to be cool even under pressure, yet he gave a powerful performance as Hang Vu, who is heartless on the outside, but full of emotion on the inside.
Lu Chi was a woman who had high ambitions. Her goal was to help her husband conquered China and she accomplished it with Luu Bang, who had no talent at all. Her mesmerizing beauty combines with her intelligent mind made her one of the most dangerous women of her time, and Truong Kha Di’s expressive performance captured the essence of those characteristics exquisitely.
The film features a handful of eminent roles such as Truong Luong, Han Tinh, Ngu Co. With a fascinating storyline, incredible performances, and excellent artistic visions (custom design, cinematography, and choreography), Han So Ba Vuong is worth watching. Although the series is long, the pace is moving along smoothly. The film took me a whole weekend to finish, but I am glad it is not a waste of time.
Please not: The Conqueror’s Story is a Chinese TV series, but I write all the names in Vietnamese.