Movie Review By Heather Clisby
Once a war has ended, the deeper, more subtle strikes begin. "Bastards" is the debut of writer/director Loc Do, which focuses on the grown children born by Vietnamese women and American men during those harrowing years. As so-called, half-breeds, they are shunned in both lands.
This from the press kit: "In 1987, U.S. Congress passed the Homecoming Act, which finally enabled Amerasians to immigrate to their father's land: the United States. Their inheritance of American blood was their passport to a 'better life,' only to find pain, humiliation and confusion."
This brave little film focuses on two brothers, Tony and Tien. After watching their mother being dragged off to a prison camp, the boys were denied education in their homeland. They came to America to chase the American Dream and both took different paths.
Tuan Tran is Tony, the angry young man who wants more than what a busboy job can provide. Soon, he falls in with Red Rice, underplayed by Christopher Dalton, who introduces him to the violent underworld of Little Saigon, a Vietnamese community in Southern California.
Christopher Lance is Tien, the straight and narrow brother who dutifully works hard in a restaurant and spends his free time looking for his American father and ignoring his beautiful girlfriend. He is so obsessed with locating him that he tirelessly works the one piece of information he has: a last name that sounds similar to 'Michelle.'
In one moving scene, Tien dials Information in the middle of the night and asks for a specific operator by name. At first, I think he's got something going on the side but turns out she is the only one who is patient enough to work with him. His very existence seems to depend on his father's.
"Bastards" is a low production film made for under $80,000 and a couple of the Amerasian roles are clearly played by white men, which is bothersome. The acting, I must say, mostly stinks with the glaring exception of Tuan Tran. However, this is a perfect example of spirit of story rising above all else; there is the skeleton of something truly great here, which is more than I can say about most of the 8 bazillion dollar budgeted stinkbombs I see these days.
I would like to see "Bastards" remade with Loc Do still in charge of everything and with Tuan still in the lead role but using even the catering bill from "Armageddon" or something. It would be an epic experience because it is a riveting subject - walking ghosts of a long-ago war still trying to find their place in this world. Loc Do has only begun to make his mark.
© 2000 - Heather Clisby - Air Date: 9/15/99
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