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10 Extraordinary Movies Set In Vietnam That Will Inspire You To Visit!

10 Extraordinary Movies Set In Vietnam That Will Inspire You To Visit!

Vietnam has a lot to offer both national and international filmmakers with exquisite natural and urban landscapes, a rich cultural heritage – and generous film tax credits and incentives programs. So it will come as no surprise that there are so many unforgettable movies set in Vietnam. 

For a long time, both foreign and native directors have captured on film some of the most stunning sights and landmarks of the country. There is the better-known Hanoi and Hoi An – not to mention plenty of UNESCO sites, but there are also hidden gems like the Mua Caves and the abandoned Ho Thuy Tien Waterpark. In Vietnam, The local Vietnamese cinema industry might not be well-known in the West but is certainly full of life and has a long and proud history.

Vietnamese film has just gradually gained popularity outside of the nations of the former Soviet Union. When the “Tenth Month Comes” was the first Vietnamese feature film to be shown publicly in the United States during the 1985 Hawai’i International Film Festival in Honolulu. At the 1987 Festival, a group of American cinema institutions joined forces with Nguyen Thu, General Director of the Vietnam Cinema Department, to launch the Vietnam Film Project, the first attempt to bring a whole new film industry to America. 

Movies set in Vietnam - Best Vietnamese films

Both the regional producers and consumers have grown significantly in size. Visiting the cinema has become one of Vietnam’s most handy and hassle-free pleasures. Since the early 2000s, as additional multiplexes have opened around the country, the number of movies released each year and the number of people who visit the theatres have both increased dramatically.

Five Vietnamese films were exhibited at the Busan International Film Festival in October 2019, one of Asia’s top prestigious film festivals honoring indigenous innovation. Rom, a film directed by Tran Dung Thanh Huy, won the first award in the New Currents category. Through the narrative of Rom (main character), the film depicts the plight of homeless children on the streets of Saigon, who must use all means necessary to live, including selling scratch cards and polishing shoes.

Many films like Rom will appear in this list of movies set in Vietnam in order to paint a picture of a complex country filled with gorgeous sights and diverse voices. With this, we hope to help audiences step into the often-contradictory world of Vietnam and experience the scenery, subcultures, and different dynamics that make Vietnam what it is today.

To honor the concept of cinematic travel, we have previously assembled various lists of the best films shot in some of our all-time favorite travel destinations: Indonesia, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Mexico City, Poland, and Finland. And now, we add Vietnam to this list!

These Vietnamese films frequently boast narratives that rely on their settings as much as their main protagonists, and as a result, spectators get a glimpse of Vietnam through the director’s eyes. Be forewarned that not all of these films are happy – tragedies and misery are as unavoidable in cinema as they are in life – be we promise that each one provides panoramic vistas and thought-provoking narratives from this tantalizing country…and have you researching the best Vietnam tour companies in no time!

Wondering where to watch? It depends on where you live in the world and which streaming services you have. We link to the streaming service we watch on in each case - be it Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, or elsewhere.

You can get one month free of Amazon Prime (or a 6-month trial for students) of Amazon Prime and also get immediate access to FREE Two Day shipping, Amazon Video, and Music. While you won't be charged for your free trial, you'll be upgraded to a paid membership plan automatically at the end of the trial period - though if you have already binged all these, you could just cancel before the trial ends.

Apple TV+ also has a one-week trial, and Hulu has a one-month trial (which can be bundled with Disney!). Another option might be using a VPN to access Netflix titles locked to other regions. Netflix is now available in more than 190 countries worldwide and each country has a different library and availability. US Netflix is (understandably) one of the best. 

While we wish everything could just be in one place - for now, it seems these are the best streaming platforms to watch on.

Movies set in Vietnam - Best Vietnamese films
10 Extraordinary Movies Set In Vietnam That Will Inspire You To Visit!
Movies set in Vietnam - Best Vietnamese films

Local Movies Set In Vietnam

Cô Ba Sài Gòn (The Tailor) 2017

Cloth represents the culture of any nation and country. If anything could symbolize Vietnam and its thing to do, it would be a lady dressed in Ao Dài (traditional Vietnamese attire) and an Nón Lá (traditional Vietnamese cap or an Asian conical hat).

There have been three significant initiatives to promote Ao Dài in recent memory. The first was Thuy Design House’s debut of an Ao Dai collection for Vietnam’s 2017 International Fashion Week. The second occurred during the closing ceremony of the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, when celebrities wore the ensembles. Finally, the film Cô Ba Sài Gn (The Tailor) by Ngô Thanh Vân (Veronica Ngo) was released, with the goal of educating young people about the origins of the famous clothing.

This film is about the revival of the conventional clothing (ao dai) era set in the 1960s, Saigon, which is considered to be the heyday of traditional Vietnamese clothes. Miss Ba (Cô Ba) is a central character who presents the tale of the Ao Dai’s shift in fashion and style in modern times. Audiences will also see images of honest women from the 1960s and 1970s.

Fashion, specifically traditional Vietnamese clothes, will describe a picture of Saigon in the past, peaceful and mellow in contrast to the rush of a contemporary metropolis. All of them are subtly intertwined in a narrative about two families, moms and kids, and a tailor and a cloth business rife with dramatic wrath.

The Floating Lives (2010)

The Floating Lives (2010) depicts the lives of a family cut off from contemporary civilization while containing within its microcosm the many complexities and tragedies of human relationships: married life, sexual trauma, and the failures and connections of parenthood, brotherhood, and sisterhood.

The film is about a distinct socioeconomic stratum in a distant area of Vietnam, complete with unwritten traditions, rituals, and behaviors. But, above all, it is the universal narrative of a family that, like all other families, must find strength and direction in one another in order to traverse the choices and consequences that comprise human existence.

Based on Nguyen Thi Ngoc Tu’s finest short story “Boundless Rice Field,” which won the Vietnam Writers Association’s best short story prize in 2007 and the ASEAN Literature Award recently, this film immerses viewers in the vibrantly colored daily life of unskilled peasants scratching out a living in the vast, mysterious, and gentle landscape of the Mekong Delta, characters whose resilience, imperfections, and beauty, struggle for life maintenance is really enough to impress the audience.

Chuyện của Pao (Story of Pao) 2006

Chuyện của Pao (Story of Pao) 2006 tells the life story of Pao, a Hmong tribal girl. The film is set in beautiful rustic scenery in Vietnam’s highland districts. Pao was raised by her stepmother after her biological mother abandoned her when she was a child. When her stepmother is killed in an accident, she decides to find her birth mother. However, her voyage reveals an unlocked emotive drama from the family’s history. 

The film was a smash in displaying an emotional slice of Vietnam’s ethnic culture, which shares the untold stories of women’s life. Their soul’s scribblings within a rigid environment that does not give much freedom or choice. The wife is a stone at the base of her husband’s house.

The story’s moral is that women should serve most of their life for the sake of their family and particularly for their husbands, whether they bring them grief or joy. Even though it is usually in the form of sadness. An actual event inspired the creation of this film. The women in the film wear gorgeous traditional clothes, and the houses, interiors, and tools, as well as the market and everyday routines, appear to be quite realistic to Vietnam’s culture.

The soundtrack is incredibly lovely and fits the tone of the tale or the character; rather, it enhances it without being distracting.

Internationally Acclaimed Vietnamese Movies 

Invisible Love (Tinh yeu vo hinh) 2021

Invisible Love is a competent and thoughtful film that is not intended to satisfy the traditional romantic drama plot but rather to give some context and compassion to all of us as we travel our own paths in search of genuine joy and affection.

The setting (the 1930s) and power struggles, particularly in light of the French occupation, are only mentioned briefly, which could have made for a more interesting introspection on how love is affected by the context of political and social advancement in a contradictory and vibrant period of Twentieth Century history, but this is about the sentimental, rather than political and social, clashes of people experiencing their own life voyage.

It tells the tragedy of a nurse, Nguyen Thi Hoa, who is charged with the murder of her husband, Ziao Degui, a trading company coworker. She is imprisoned, awaiting an appeal while she faces the repercussions of her conduct. She then (through a flashback sequence) reflects on her relationships with the men she has met – an old school friend, Hoang Van Nam, a colonial army soldier and the owner of the trading company, Li Jiru, who wants to marry her but has to get an abolition due to his Catholic faith; and an American physician, James Marquis, who wants to marry her but has to get a decree of divorce due to his Catholic faith.

Thi Hoa is disturbed by a young son she is attempting to defend, yet she has an illegal romance with both Marquis and another man, causing uproar and debate in the community, a reminder that the road to both deceitful and sincere love is never easy.

The Third Wife (Vợ ba) 2018

Set in late-nineteenth-century rural Vietnam, fourteen-year-old May (Nguyen Phuong Tra My) marries the third wife of wealthy landlord Hung (Le Vu Long). One of her objectives becomes establishing her place in the home, and she finds herself hoping for a boy. While expecting this, she has a sexual awakening and sees the various lifestyles of the spouses and the limited options available to them if their demands are not satisfied.

The Third Wife, which won awards at the Toronto and San Sebastian film festivals, is Ash Mayfair’s stunning directorial debut. Mayfair’s film is a lovely and delicate homage to women, showing the feminine viewpoint and employing a delicate tone and melancholy music to pull the protagonist out of her silk labyrinth.

As many images are on the outside and surrounded by water, which is a theme linked with the protagonist, The Third Wife shows nature and gender as something that works all together. In brief, the movie, which is visually magnificent and lyrical, explores all stages of life, from the cradle to the grave, from a sensitive female perspective. The visuals and narrative of The Third Wife are gloomily intriguing.

The Scent of Green Papaya (Mùi du du xanh) 1993

The Scent of Green Papaya is the first Vietnamese film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It is first and foremost a film of remarkable aesthetic flair; viewing it is like seeing a poem for the eyes.

All of the action, both indoors and outdoors, takes place in Saigon prior to the Vietnam War, but what is remarkable is that the whole film was shot in Paris, on a sound stage. Whatever we perceive is a staged production. There is a trend in Asian films of plainly constructed settings, such as snowfalls and woods. However, the settings for “Papaya” are so realistic that we initially believe we are in a little, hidden section of a genuine city. 

A short synopsis of the movie: Mui, a young village girl, is hired to work for a wealthy family in Saigon. Despite the fact that the family’s income finances shift for the worse, Mui remains as a servant and falls in love with one of their friends, the attractive Khuyen. Years later, Mui is hired by Khuyen, who has gone on to become a well-known pianist. Despite the fact that Khuyen has a fiancée, he eventually realizes his own great relationship with Mui. 

This film portrays a sense of complete calm and spirituality gained from the main character’s ongoing sense of amazement, the consciousness of her environment, and delight in mundane daily duties.

Popular Vietnamese Movies On Netflix

Camellia Sisters (Gái Già Lắm Chiêu) 2021

Camellia Sisters is about three sisters from the Ly family: Ly Le Han, Ly Le Hong, and Ly Linh. Even though everything appears to be beautiful on the surface for the family, there is mental devastation and deception inside.

Camellia Sisters depicts the Ly sisters’ internal tension not just as ladies belonging to a certain social class but also as women in modern society and their difficulties. Additionally, there is so much strength and passion in a scene where Linh addresses Han about what she now knows about the family that you can’t help but feel horrible for a character with whom you have no relationship at all. This may be credited to excellent acting as well as well-written and compelling conversation.

Furthermore, the film’s locale adds to the overall theme of novelty, deception, and sadness. Camellia Sisters is situated in a lovely home known as Camille Estate, which talks a lot about the ethnic context of the characters. 

Even though Camellia Sisters has a lot of predictable elements, it’s nevertheless a fun time and serves as a mirror to the condition of women in several moments. Also, the chemistry between Linh and Jonathan was fantastic.

Dreamy Eyes (Mắt Biếc) 2019

Dreamy Eyes, inspired by Nguyen Nhat Anh’s novel of the same name and produced by award-winning filmmaker Victor Vu, follows the journey of Ngan, a six-year-old boy who falls in love with his childhood best friend Ha Lan. Ngan’s lost love for Ha Lan continues for a lifetime through heartache and treachery in this incredible story. In a tragic twist of destiny, Ha Lan realizes her worst mistake: she misses her opportunity to tell Ngan how she feels for him as he boards a train and departs forever.

However, the shooting is superb, and the backdrop is lovely enough to convey the grandeur of Vietnam’s country places. The pastoral views are reminiscent of the lovely and innocent first love that warms one’s heart, which is emphasized by the golden hue imparted to these nostalgic sceneries. Additionally, the end is shockingly well-executed, leaving the spectator to question what has occurred. The movie teaches us that: 

“In this life, there are two things you should never miss. The last bus home, and the person that truly loves you.”

Hollow (Đoạt Hồn) 2014

Since 2010, the Vietnamese film industry has produced several horror films, like Loi Nguyen Huyet Ngai, Qua Tim Mau, and others, but none of them have surpassed Hollow in terms of shocks and actor’s performances.

Director Ham Tran has succeeded in establishing an uncanny mood throughout the film, including characteristics unique to the Southern Vietnamese region. In this film, there are black magic curses, haunting spirits, possession, prostitution issues, and many more Asian horror themes. Hollow mixes Vietnamese mythology with real-world fears (human smuggling and child abuse), resulting in a compelling and emotional narrative that underlines the truth of the aforementioned familial catastrophes, which are represented in this psychological thriller.

The film is about “Ai,” a six-year-old girl who falls into a river during a family visit to a temple. She miraculously reappears alive a week later at a hospital downstream from where she fell. Her family is first pleased to have the young girl back, but when Ai begins to exhibit unusual and unnatural behavior, the family begins to suspect Ai is not quite what she appears to be. If you like Asian horror, this movie will really satisfy you.

Furie (Hai Phượng) 2019

Hai Phuong (Ngô Thanh Vân) is a former gangster who is alienated from her family when her father disowns her for having a romance with a gangster and being involved in criminal activities.

She decided to give up her criminal life after the birth of her daughter and now works as a debt collector and barely supports herself and her daughter. One day destiny set her off to her previous lifestyle (outlaw roots) because some traffickers kidnapped his daughter. Now, as you may have imagined, she was willing to go to any length to reclaim her daughter. Aside from a gripping plot, the film also displays Vovinam’s skill and attractiveness (Vietnamese martial arts).

Furie is one of the few genuine filmmaking examples in which performance takes prominence over novelty. The fights, which are centered on the local Vovinam and directed by Kefi Abrikh and Yannick Ben Haddou, are fantastic. It’s not as violent as, for instance, The Night Comes for Us or The Raid, but it’s still dramatic, and anything about human smugglers obviously makes you want vengeance through severe violence, and Furie never fails to impress on that front.

Overall, Furie is one of the finest action films, thanks to Veronica Ngo’s superb lead acting, which is a joy to see on screen. It never lacks pace and never loses enthusiasm, rendering it a must-see for action film fans.