The following paragraphs may contains spoilers for the film Furie (2019).
Hell hath no Furie
Furie (2019) is a Vietnamese martial arts movie based around a kidnapped girl’s mother stopping at nothing to find and save her. Having been to Vietnam, the film served as a reminder of both my time there and what I learned. Additionally, my live-tweeting indicates an undeniable fondness to the film’s strong feminist messages.
When travelling through Vietnam in a group of seven friends, we were continually learning about Vietnam’s cultures and history, not just from the country itself but also from one of our friends with us who is of Vietnamese descent. Although growing up in Australia, my Vietnamese friend’s rich cultural perspective and knowledge of the local customs gave the rest of the group an insight into Vietnam that we would not have had otherwise. The entire trip from Vietnam’s north to its south was a journey filled with moments of learning and putting together pieces of the things we had heard about Vietnam, particularly the civil war.
Hearing a character use “Saigon” when referring to Vietnam’s capital now named Ho Chi Minh City, I immediately had some context for this character because of what my friend had taught me about her family and what it means to be southern Vietnamese. Unlike the Vietnamese, never having an experiencing the ongoing consequences of a civil war, I found it both intriguing and saddening in the holding onto a name from before it. Detecting this small nuance in the dialogue was a way that a particular knowledge shaped my recognition of that character’s circumstances. Furthermore, it is through empathy that I draw emotion, solidifying a fixed remembrance of the city’s past and present and who calls it what and why they call it that.
Spending the last six years in gyms, consistently participating in sports like CrossFit, powerlifting, and weightlifting, I have explored different perceptions of masculinity and femininity and where these concepts lie in physicality and exercise. As a woman who partakes in training and sports typically considered masculine due to their inclusions of weights, I have endured comments I would consider sexist because of their double standard or gendered judgment. My experience in weight training has and continues to mould my ideas of femininity, and when Hai in Furie (2019) is also partaking in masculine styles of physicality while also revealing the more feminine like emotions, I feel a strong sense to mention the example it makes. Additionally, in recognising Hai’s femininity, there is a reflection of my own and how I perceive mine.
Visiting Vietnam with a Vietnamese friend gave me a significant insight into Vietnamese culture, which was impossible to shake when watching Furie (2019). Furthermore, because I am consistently engaging feminist media, I have developed a strong recognition of gender inequalities and societal gender stereotypes and norms, which has led to reading content with a feminist lens that Furie (2019) did not escape. The drawing of parallels between my participation in sports and the film’s use of martial arts heightened this feminist lens as it reminds me what femininity means to me, despite what societal gender norms suggest.