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Reviews Furie a.k.a Hai Phuong (2019) and Maria (2019)

genre: action, martial arts, crime

Both films discussed here are pretty similar in which two former and retired ass kicking women once again have to take arms, so to speak, and get into action for the injustice that has been done to them. Perhaps it's a little unfair to compare the both. But if I truly think that is the case I will try to be as objective as possible. A quick comparison to older films to get an idea what they are about. Furie is very similar to Taken. And Maria has more in common with John Wick or Peppermint

Furie a.k.a. Hai Phuong (2019)

Furie is an incredible looking film. And for the most part it does seem to be a very competent and very professional production. The cast and their acting is serviceable to good with the lead Veronica Ngo as Hai Phuong being the standout. As she really sells her role as the desperate mother trying to retrieve her daughter from the bad guys. 

The action obviously is the main draw and is quite decent. But to say it's hard hitting and exciting? Unfortunately I have to say this is not the case. Don't get me wrong, the action is adequate but within the context and compared to other films in the genre this just falls short. There is a brief glimpse of what could have been in the end but that sequence lasted like 15 seconds. Perhaps you are thinking I am too harsh. But trust me. I was so up for some good action and I kept waiting and waiting until the credits started to roll. My one big issue with the choreography was that whenever a fight became compelling they would hit Hai on the head or she herself would pass out completely ruining the flow. 

I do have to admit that you are rooting for Hai all the way. She is far from perfect. But she did right by her child to leave the life she was leasing. And it was nice to see how she got to realize she almost repeated what her own father had done to her. Make her daughter tough by being too strict and firm instead of being loving.  

Overall Furie is not bad. But I was expecting so much more and it simply didn't deliver.

Maria (2019)

Action wise Maria is slightly better choreographed and interchanges martial arts with plenty of gun play. You can actually see what is going on since quick cuts and shaky cam have been avoided. To me this was a far better fit than Furie since very conveniently most of the baddies in that film don't even use guns. 

Maria also looks nice but compared to Furie looks less slick and stylish. I can't say that I dug the background music as much but I was surprised to see how much the lyrics actually referred to the situations or moods the main character was in. 

But the biggest problem with Maria is the appalling acting of the villains. Where did they get these guys? The actor Kaleb was the worst. I know he was going for edgy and unpredictable. Instead he came across as a low level thug who nobody would take seriously. Funniest thing is that both the boss and Kaleb himself think that he is the man and can handle everything while in reality screws up everything he could have screwed up and then some. Supposedly this is a plot line to create tension between Victor and Kaleb. And God I wished they would have done more with this. Because even the big boss is highly incompetent who is as threatening as a fluffy and cuddly bunny. Why would Victor put up with the way he is treated? These are details that would have made things more interesting and fun. If I were Victor I would have shot the big boss, Kaleb and take over the enterprise. Because them being unable to carry out the simplest tasks is bad for business. 

Christina Reyes did a decent job of portraying the vengeful mother although she wasn't nearly as angry enough as she should have been. I was also glad to see that she actually looked like she could handle herself in hand to hand combat and shooting weapons. Her fighting skills might not be that surprising since she has been training with her husband who is a MMA fighter. And she very likely received similar training like Keanu Reeves did for the John Wick franchise.  In short: she makes it look good.

Overall I did enjoy this flick a little better. But still couldn't help but feel disappointed about it not meeting with the expectations I had. Both Furie and Maria have let me down in this regard. 

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