Back to the late 2000s, the local box offices were completely dominated by Hollywood blockbusters, and sometimes Korean and Chinese films, leaving a very small number of Vietnamese productions to appear.
However, everything was changed around five years ago, when the local film industry caught the viewer’s hope, releasing hits after hits that changed the most skeptical fan minds.
Below are top five outstanding Vietnamese films in temporary topic. The list is based on reported ticket sales as of mid-May in 2017.
5. Yellow Flowers on the Green Grass (2015)
IMDB rating: 7.8
The film produced by Vietnamese-American director Victor Vu has grossed 81 billion VND ($3.57 million).
Based on an award-winning and best-selling book by novelist Nguyen Nhat Anh, “Yellow Flowers” was set in the mid-1980s in a poor central Vietnam village, telling a nostalgic story of two young brothers who vie for the attention and affection of a young girl.
Through the peaceful scene of their hometown and the daily stories through the child’s eyes, the film touches the heart of every Vietnamese people. Every adult used to be a child, and the film is about childhood that no one can forget.
The film won the Young People’s Jury Award at the annual TIFF Kids International Film Festival. It was also submitted as the Vietnamese entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards.
4. Vengeful Heart (2014)
IMDB rating: 7.1
The thriller, also by Victor Vu, is about a girl who after a heart transplant, starts having nightmares and seeing a house in the remote countryside. She then believes that the previous owner of the heart, a former resident of the house, wants her to find out the secrets of her death.
The film was praised for straying far from the usual, cheap horror tropes found in other Vietnamese movies. The scene is nice, fantastic and makes the viewers screaming as the director intended.
It has gained 85 billion VND ($3.75 million) and was nominated for the Golden Kite Award, considered the Vietnamese Oscar, for Best Feature.
3. Let Hoi Decide (2014)
IMDB rating: 6.0
The romantic comedy, directed by Vietnamese-American Charlie Nguyen, has raked in 101 billion VND ($4.45 million) as it features well-known comedian Thai Hoa.
The film is one of the rare cases in Vietnamese film in which an LGBT character took the center stage.
After two parts of ‘Let Hoi Decide’ movies, Thai Hoa became a household name and a welcoming star. He appeared in three films in 2016 and makes people remember as a must-have actor in every film.
2. Sweet 20 (2015)
IMDB rating: 7.1
“Em la ba noi cua anh” (Sweet 20) is another rom-com that swept local theaters quickly after being released.
The movie is a feature debut by Phan Le Nhat Linh as a director and a remake of South Korea’s “Miss Granny.” It tells the story of 70-year-old grandma who travels back in time and seeks her second chance of living a life without regrets. The film has earned 102 billion VND ($4.5 million) and become one of the most highest-sale films.
Singer-turned-actress Miu Le shot into stardom and being recognized talent after this film.
1. Jailbait (2017)
IMDB rating: 7.0
“Sweet 20” had been the highest grossing Vietnamese movie for more than a year, until it was dethroned by “Jailbait,” a rom-com about a school girl and her scandalous love story.
The movie, whose Vietnamese title means “I’m not 18,” overwhelmed the viewers with generous lifestyle, more different from the thought of the old Vietnamese generation but closed to the young nowadays.
Stars Kaity Nguyen, an 18 year-old newcomer has stunned critics and viewers with her impressive acting skills.
Nguyen’s character hooks up with a playboy much older than her after having her heart broken by a crush. The movie is rated C16 as it is deemed suitable for mature audiences only.
Directed by Le Thanh Son, the movie hit local theaters on April 28. In a remarkable feat, it surpassed “Guardians of the Galaxy” to dominate the local box office during the Reunification-Labor holiday weekend.
After more than 2 weeks, it has secured the title of the biggest Vietnamese movie ever by earned 150 billion VND ($6.6 million), and counting.
More importantly, that record has also made it the third biggest release of all time, only after “Kong: Skull Island” and “The Fate of the Furious.”