The Story of Woo Viet
The Story of Woo Viet
As the second of Ann Hui’s Vietnam Trilogy, The Story of Woo Viet continues to explore the theme of the plight of Vietnamese refugees. This time, the drama is packaged in the form of an action thriller. The film tells the story of Woo Viet (Chow Yun-Fat), a former veteran in Vietnam. After arriving in a refugee camp in Hong Kong, he meets his pen pal Li Lap-Quan (Cora Miao). During this time, he also meets and develops a relationship with Shum Ching (Cherie Chung), with whom he attempts to flee to the United States. However, the pair end up stranded in Manila’s Chinatown, where at the hands of the local triads Woo becomes a hired assassin, while Shum is forced into prostitution.
Unlike Hui’s first two films, The Secret and The Spooky Bunch, which feature female protagonists with intrigue and suspense, this film tells the story from the perspective of a passionate young hero willing to risk everything for love. The film laments the rootlessness of overseas Chinese in their meandering lives. From character portrayal to performance, the three lead actors deliver a soul-moving authenticity that accords The Story of Woo Viet the acclaim as one of Hong Kong’s most iconic blend of action and drama.
About the Director
Ann Hui (b. 1947, Liaoning) started her film career as a key figure of the Hong Kong New Wave. Her experiences span across genres and her work has constantly committed to realism. Her debut film The Secret (1971) takes inspiration from a real-life murder case, while the award-winning Boat People (1982) depicts the reality of Vietnamese refugees. Her work often features autobiographical elements. In Song of the Exile (1990) and As Time Goes By (1997), she reflects on her memories and ponders the arduous search for one’s roots as a speck in the sea of history. She has also shown a deep interest in the stories of the common people in Hong Kong, such as in The Way We Are (2008). Her latest work is a documentary on Hong Kong poets, Elegies (2023).
Image at top: Ann Hui. The Story of Woo Viet, 1981. Photo: Courtesy of Star Alliance.