SARAH LOHMANN WRITES — How far would you go to protect yourself? What about someone you loved? It’s hypothetical we’ve all been posed at one time or another, and we all like to say we’d do anything, but Furies tells of those who really would do it—anything.
Furies is a 2022 Vietnamese action film produced, directed by, and starring Veronica Ngo. The film follows Bi, who, after surviving sexual assault and the murder of her mother, is recruited into a vigilante group by Jacqueline “Lin” Hoang to protect women from sex trafficking. It was initially released in Vietnam in December 2022 but only became available worldwide on Netflix on March 23, 2023. It is also a prequel to the 2019 film, Furie.
The film centers around the themes of betrayal, trust, and found family—which refers to a group that comes to love each other like family despite being unrelated biologically. A gritty color palette, unabashed violence, and careful editing communicate these themes.
The visual elements make for a striking viewing experience. The red and green—along with eliciting the traditional ideas of luck and love versus jealousy and lust, respectively—are consistently in combat as complementary colors. While they often highlight one another in this contrast, when combined, they create a sense of “color blindness,” muddying together and making the scenes look brown and dark. The line between these high-contrast and colorblind scenes can be subtle, and it reasserts one of the film’s quintessential themes: the boundary between something and its polar opposite can be slim and easy to stumble across. In terms of the Furies plot, the use of violence, while gratuitous, is justified by its purpose of saving innocent lives.
Human trafficking has a long history in Vietnamese society. According to a 2004 assessment by the United Nations, “Trafficking in women and children […] has been afforded significant attention and deep concern by the State and Community because of its complicated and multiform character as well as its serious consequences to victims, families, and society.” This knowledge emboldens the protagonists alike to do whatever it takes to protect the innocent victims of the traffickers, and it encourages us, the viewers, to support violence that we would condemn under many other circumstances. Therein lies what Bi and the others must reconcile throughout their crusades. This comes further to the forefront as the film draws on and the intentions of those guiding the protagonists are questioned.
Furies is an excellent watch if you are looking for a nostalgic trip into the action films of the nineties, especially if you’ve got a soft spot for found family or enjoy villain origin stories. The film focuses on the real ways violence has been used to hurt and protect innocent people and how things that appear opposed on the surface may be more similar.
Sarah Lohmann graduated from Knox College with a BA in Creative Writing and Asian Studies, where their research focused on film, translation, and literature.
Edited by executive editor, Ella Kelleher.