This movie should come with a warning cause it's simply dynamite! However, it's not for beginners. If you want to see some romanticized view of exotic beauty in foreign lands, grab some wine and your honey, and see Tran Ahn Hung's other movies, like "The Scent of Green Papaya". That movie, although dealing with serious issues, is like 'Reality Lite'. You can ignore aspects of the human experience that plague the mind of your inner insomniac. But "Cyclo" is no joke! This here is some powerful stuff. Not for beginners, this! And, what could be better than Cyclo on DVD?! I can see my favorite parts anytime and instantly transport myself to my own private VietNam. Cool.
If you are familiar with popular cinema from Asia, you know the system's are not like American movies. Often certain popular actors are routinely coupled. I find this habit refreshing, especially here. In some ways, the more films you see the more shades there are to an actors ability in the big picture. On a small scale, the film makers bank on the public seeing more films since certain famous pairings generate the feeling that the actors are like your old friends. If you don't feel manipulated by this tactic, it can be the cinematic equivalent of a fun time at an amusement park, when you're with your way-out-of-town friends, always taking different rides.
Furthermore, as far as East Asian Cinema goes, in my experience, as with all world cinema, you don't know what's it's all about until it's over. This film, like much of world cinema, is not trying to spoonfeed you. This movie gets 'heavy'. But if you stay with it, the whole of the film and the story within are very gratifying.
As far as my criteria for a good flick goes, this one meets my standard for world cinema, and far surpasses American commercial films. The editing is seemless. The actors are fluid and charismatic as always (Remember, old friends are we). The cinematography is stunning. The script has a definite feeling of realism. These characters say what they really would say (and maintain appropriate silences too), not that I know what a struggling Vietnamese escort or cabbie would say. But, dig this, a good story like this feels real, draws you in, shows you things you never saw woven into a story that holds you 'til the credits, and stays with you after, spinning in your mind in true 'twist-a plot' fashion, ya? If you let yourself into the world of these characters, alternate possibilities will come to mind when it's through.
Aside: Those of you who love Hong Kong film will enjoy seeing Tony Leung here - very believable and adorable! Secondly, and most important, DON'T EAT PORK BEFORE YOU SEE THIS MOVIE!!!! Nuff said.
I won't ruin the story by divulging any specific special parts or attributes of the film. My (somewhat pompous) point is, I saw the movie... The movie was good.