What do you get if you combine the glorious cinematic sensibilities of The Scent of Green Papaya, an unnerving blood fetish, and a story about gang violence in Ho Chi Minh City? The answer is a truly bizarre film by Vietnamese director Tran Anh Hung which, in turns, will delight, mystify and bore you.

The narrative starts off focusing on a young boy trying to earn his keep driving a pedal rickshaw (the "cyclo" of the title) who gets forced into the world of the gangland underground after his rickshaw is stolen. The focus then shifts to the young gang leader as he initiates the boy's beautiful older sister, unbeknownst to him, into prostitution.

The plot shifts between characters without explaining their role to any great extent and the story seems to grind to a halt in several places but the many surreal images manage to stick in your mind. At one point in a nightclub scene, CREEP by Radiohead starts playing - at first it seems anachronistic but eventually comes to make perfect sense. I suppose the same can be said for the film as a whole.

These pages are written and maintained by Jeremy Coley.
Copyright and all other rights are reserved by the author. Last updated on November 23, 1996.