So What’s It Like to Direct the Highest-Grossing Film in Vietnam? Interview with Charlie Nguyen, Director of Fool for Love 2

By Amy Nguyen


1) What inspired you to create a sequel, and to follow the adventures of love and romance from Hoi’s perspective?

We made the first movie [Fool for Love/ Ðể Mai Tính ] over four years ago, and something about it – the story and the characters – really connected with our audience. Everywhere I went, people would talk about it, and remind me of what they loved about it.

But most of all, people really enjoyed Hoi’s character, and wanted to know more about him. He’s very complex and incredibly human, with a full range of emotions that could resonate with anyone. He had an integral role in the first film, but didn’t quite have his happy ending, so we thought we would continue the story from there. As such, the opportunity to expand his character and finding a new adventure for him really motivated me to create a sequel.


2) What makes Hoi so memorable?

There are many wonderful things about Hoi that has made him so memorable, and immensely popular among audiences. One of the biggest things I think that has made a difference was how well his character was developed and flushed out – Hoi has so many dimensions – qualities and flaws that we can all relate to – and he’s very complex. He has a great sense of humor about him, but he also has feelings and the same needs that we want.

Of course, he’s also memorable because he’s play so well by Thai Hoa. When we did the first film [Fool for Love/ Ðể Mai Tính] , it was during a time when gay characters were either rarely portrayed, or were comical and lacked the depth and emotional range of their counterparts. Working with Thai over the years, we’ve been able to bring forth a character that is really rich and fully developed, which I think the audience appreciates and remembers.


3) Love and success continue to be explored in this sequel, and are brought to life by your richly developed and incredibly complex characters. Why have you continued to explore these themes, and do you feel that they are mutually exclusive to achieve?

Certainly, I believe love and success can be achieved, and even more so, that they can co-exist. It’s a matter of defining what love and success means, and finding out what’s important to each person.

Fool for Love 2 is aptly titled because its lead character, Hoi, has not yet understood what true love means, and how to find the balance between love and success to have them co-exist. You see glimpses of that in the first movie as well, in how he treats people around him.

For the sequel, we start the movie with Hoi mistaking love with possessiveness and a sense of expectation. He sees love conditionally, and as a business transaction, but as the movie progresses, Hoi goes through a journey of self-transformation, with the help of his friends, to see what real love and happiness means.


4) You’ve captured so much of Vietnam in the movie – she could be another character. Was it important for your audiences to see how Vietnam is evolving and changing?

We received a lot of commentary from audiences that we’ve captured so many different angles of Vietnam – from the new to the traditional, and all the different classes that make up the country today. That certainly was not our intent when we did our location scouting – each setting was chosen to set the tone and vision for each scene, to strengthen the storyline, and of course, to support the characters. It just so happens that we’ve been able to capture something very contemporary.


5) Fool for Love 2 has yet again broken box office records in Vietnam. Do you foresee a trilogy?

We haven’t thought about that just yet. It’s taken us several years in between the first [Fool for Love/ Ðể Mai Tính] and to the sequel, because it was really important that we had a strong and compelling story to tell.

However, if something inspires me to expand on the storyline or the characters, I would look into it. So, we haven’t ruled out the possibility of another film either!


6) 2015 is such an exciting year for you – what other projects are in the pipeline?

I’m working on several different projects this year, which gives me an opportunity to explore different genres of film and production. One upcoming project will be an action film, which will begin production later this fall. We will start location scouting soon, which will be in Indonesia.  I’m also finishing up Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2, the sequel to movie that was done over a decade ago.

I am also working on a script for a sequel to Teo Em, which was featured at the previous Viet Film Fest. The first film did really well, also breaking box office record in Vietnam, so I am looking forward to developing the sequel, and working with a great and talented cast.