A scene from "Bui doi Cho Lon" under making.Photo courtesy of Bui doi Cho Lon Facebook page
Vietnam latest action movie about gang fights in Ho Chi Minh City's Chinatown has been officially banned after the censors disapproved of the new, censored version.
Charlie Nguyen, director of "Bui doi Cho Lon" confirmed on Friday that the US$500,000 production, literally meaning "Life on Chinatown streets," will not be screened any time soon.
The movie was supposed to premier on April 19, but a censorship committee with the National Cinema Department objected that it was too violent, so the movie was resummitted without 15 minutes of major fight scenes.
Local cineplexes then changed the premiere date to June 28, after the producers and censors met on May 3 and an official told local media that agreement has been reached to make the adjustments required.
"I'm a bit surprised with the decision," Nguyen said.
A source from the censorship committee said the film was not changed as comprehensively as requested.
But Nguyen said the request is impossible to follow, as they would have to film many more scenes and it would cost a lot more money.
Four of the eight-member censorship committee (one absentee) had said at a meeting in April that the film should be canceled, while others felt it should be revised to "better suit Eastern values" and "be more realistic."
They criticized it for promoting violence and depicting a bad image of the society, with no police intervening in the knife and machete fights between gangs.
Nguyen said the team had adjusted the movie several times within their financial capacity.
"We've cut almost all violent and action scenes, and we've added several scenes with police officers, enough to make sure the storyline is not changed."
He said if the producers Chanh Phuong Company and Galaxy cineplex, are still enthusiastic, it can invest more money and make a new movie based on the story, and hopefully a more gentle version of the movie will show up.
"But honestly, I don't know if I myself am enthusiastic enough to work more on it," the director said.
He said he had been disasppointed when the movie was disapproved in the first place, but he does not want to think about it and want to focus on his next project, a comedy.
"As a director, I believe I have done my best."
Johny Tri Nguyen, the director's brother and the main actor playing a role where he is forced to join the fights in exchange for a reunion with his girlfriend, also said he was also disappointed.
"What can I say... It's sad, like losing a child."
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