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Film Review: ‘Tam Cam: The Untold Story’ (Vietnam, 2016)

911 700 East Winds Film Festival

The second day of East Winds Film Festival 2017 started  with the UK Premiere of the unique and captivating action fantasy film ‘Tam Cam: The Untold Story’ from Vietnam.

Inspired by a Vietnamese fairy tale, ‘Tam Cam’ is similar to the story of Cinderella. There were once two stepsisters named Tam and Cam. Tam was the daughter of their father’s first wife who died when she was young. So her father took a second wife. Several years later, the father died and left Tam to live with her stepmother and stepsister.

The stepmother is always jealous and teams up with her daughter to bully Tam because of her beauty. Tam has to labour all day long and into the night. When Tam worked hard, her sister Cam did nothing but play games. She was given pretty clothes to wear and always got the best food. But kindness pays off, allowing Tam to meet the handsome Prince, with whom she falls in love at first sight.

The film is not as cliché as the old story you think you might already know. The first part is about the life of Tam before she married the Prince. The second part is what happened after she married him.

Indeed, the Cinderella narrative only occupies the first part of the film, and it then goes off on a tangent with a fusion of Oriental flavours, including death-defying eternal love, martial arts fights, epic battles, sword fights and even battles with monsters! It aims to please as wide a public as possible, not only for young girls attracted to romanticism, but also for boys keen on video game-style battles. ‘Tam Cam: The Untold Story’ proves that perhaps there is a dish that can satisfy the majority of spectators.

Tam Cam The Untold Story

Under the helm of director Veronica Ngo, ‘Tam Cam: The Untold Story’ flows with a smoothness. And thanks to a series of supporting roles in this film, like the “fairy father” or Nguyen Luc, one of the Prince’s footmen, the story is kept in check by a corrective irony of sorts.

Colourful costumes, luscious landscapes, beautiful actors engaging in romance and wire work martial arts provide entertainment for every audience. Without a doubt, it shows an encouraging sign of the future joys Veronica Ngo could bring to the big screen.

Review by Yuchen Zeng

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