Tran Thanh and Ngoc Dang Vu’s action-comedy Bố Già (Dad, I’m Sorry) flies by fast and furiously, and it’s about… you guessed it… family (pun intended). The story of a tumultuous relationship between a father and son is heartful while still being funny and action-packed. The smaller-scale production, set along the moped-infested streets of Viet Nam, is the top-grossing film in the country, beating out Avengers: End Game.
The central narrative concerns the relationship between long-suffering father Ba Sang (Trấn Thành), and his son, Quắn (Tuấn Trần), aka Woan, who is an up-and-coming YouTube star. Woan knows that his father should be in a better financial situation. The problem is that Ba Sang is good-hearted and is constantly bailing out his family with their problems which have strained his finances and put him in a constant state of stress and anxiety. As Woan’s YouTube views increase, he begins making an insane amount of money. Like a good son, Woan insists on moving his father and sister, Bù Tọt (Ngân Chi), to a luxury apartment and away from the dysfunctional family members.
Speaking of Ba Sang’s dysfunctional family, he has a sister who always puts him down and compares her more handsome and successful son to Woan. His other brother is hen-pecked by his wife, who is not afraid to speak her mind about her disapproval of everyone in the family. Lastly, Ba Sang’s youngest brother is in constant monetary trouble with a local mobster, so Ba Sang vows to pay off his brother’s debt. Ba Sang invites the family over to Woan’s new apartment for a party without his son’s permission. A fight ensues, and Woan kicks out Ba Sang’s brother after stealing his money.
“…insists on moving his father and sister…to a luxury apartment and away from the dysfunctional family members.”
Bố Già (Dad, I’m Sorry) makes me wonder what would happen if Guy Ritchie made a family comedy. The film’s look is colorful, and the pace moves quickly. The moped sequences along Viet Nam’s streets, which use slow-motion transitions, are exciting and recreate the popular style witnessed in many of today’s much higher-budgeted action movies.
The film is an example of what I enjoy about World Cinema. Taking place throughout Saigon, there’s a familiar feeling to the proceedings, but at the same time, it feels new. Occasionally, the heavy rains in this humid region flood the city streets and homes by about six inches, and no one cares. It’s just a part of life there.
Ba Sang’s family makes me think if they mixed a low-rent Dallas with Everybody Loves Raymond. As quirky as his brothers and sisters are, they are authentic and relatable. Their personalities are over-the-top, but just enough real emotions remain to be genuine. Again, this just proves that “crazy” is universal to families globally.
Trấn Thành is the star of the film. He is sympathetic from the start carries the bulk of the emotional load. He’s switching effortlessly between comedy to life-altering drama, which means he’s got range. With all the frenetic energy flying around, Ba Sang and Woan’s story never gets lost or overwhelmed. Yes, the ending might move into Hallmark territory, but Bố Già (Dad, I’m Sorry) is nothing but light fun. If you want to experience some of the best of world cinema, it is worth checking out.
"…some of the best of world cinema..."