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on 8 March 2001
This film manages to be fantasticly calm, despite the depection of corruption in Vietnam. The film tells the stroy of a boy and his sister, living secret lives in order to financially support their remaining family. These secret lives are linked to the same gang, as organised crime is rife in the city of Hanoi. The film is slow moving yet not dull, we see murder, prostitution and madness, at a reflective pace. Set to enchanting music, even a surprise visit from Radiohead`s `creep`. Despite it`s content this is not an action film, nor is it too slow, though it is advised you do not watch it if you are too sleepy! Well worth a relaxing look, if only to experiecnce the culture shock.
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VINE VOICEon 24 April 2013
This film is from Vietnam, and set in Saigon, around 1995. The city is rife with corruption, and under the control of organised crime. The lead character is struggling to make a living, as a driver of a pedal-cycle taxi, called a Cyclo. Although this film deals with the criminal underworld, and the issues of prostitution and murder, it has a slow pace, and little or no action. However, don't let that put you off, as there is marvellous cinematography, and a glimpse into a little-known culture and society.

To most of us, Vietnam means war films, like `Platoon', or `Full Metal Jacket'. Americans wandering around shooting people, with the Vietnamese shown as fanatical, black pyjama-wearing guerrillas. This film gives us the opportunity to look at the country after that war, through the eyes of the Vietnamese themselves, and you will be surprised at what you see.
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on 25 January 2015
Amazing film... rated the sweatiest films of all time. If there is a sweatier film. I haven't seen it.
Worth a look
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on 23 February 2015
brilliant film i have been looking for it for years, bbfc told me in 2002 it is not on DVD.
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on 15 February 2016
As Described but not my genre.
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on 23 February 2009
The cover of my version of "Cyclo" bandies comparisons with Tarantino and Scorsese. Anyone expecting Tarantino levels of action and suspense will be disappointed. Anyone who likes "Mean Streets" will know exactly where this film is coming from. This Vietnamese movie explores the relationship between crime and poverty, as a brother (Le Van Loc) and sister (Tran Nu Yen-Khe) are drawn respectively into gang crime and prostitution. The boy's story, gradually getting deeper and deeper into violence and drugs, is the more conventional, and it's difficult to escape the feeling we have seen it all before. The girl's situation is more interesting, in that her pimp (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) is also a poet, withdrawn and mournful, who gradually becomes more and more involved with her. Eventually, consumed by guilt when the girl is severely mutilated by a client into sado-masochism, he kills himself by setting fire to his house. The boy, off his head on drugs, tries to shoot himself but bungles it.

The other quirky aspect of the movie is that the Big Boss of the criminal organisation which ultimately controls both siblings, is a woman (Nhu Qhynh Nguyen) with a disabled son whom she looks after devotedly. When he dies, her distraught grief leads her to let Cyclo off the hook, and hence we have a rather artificial happy ending.

The main protagonist of the film is the city of Hanoi itself - teeming, insanitary, uncaring. And the director films it in much the same way as Scorsese films New York - mainly at night, in glaring, almost surreal colours.

Despite the successful elements, and some resonant images (Cyclo painted blue with a goldfish in his drug-addled mouth springs to mind) the film doesn't work overall because of the clichés of the script; the unanswered questions (what happens to the other members of the family when Cyclo and his sister disappear?) and the uneven quality of the acting (the Madame is particularly histrionic, and Le Van Loc, despite being very fetching, is rather inexpressive).

This film illustrates one of my golden rules of film, which is, Always be suspicious of a movie where the characters don't have names. While aiming for significance, the movie-maker usually ends up with lack of particularity, and pretention. The awards that this film has garnered seem to have come out of political sympathy - this was a brave project in government-controlled Vietnam - rather than artistic merit.
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