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A film from Hong Kong by the highly talented Ann Hui; it's a disarmingly effective blend of zestful melodrama and didactic intent. A Japanese photojournalist is invited by the Vietnamese government to report on the progress the country has made since the war. Everything seems rosy until he shakes off his official guide and finds himself in a land of crushing poverty and brutal oppression. Hui's anxiousness to assure the audience that she's presenting the unvarnished truth automatically raises some suspicions, especially when the whole force of the film comes from Hui's accomplished melodramatic manipulation of reality. It will be safer to admire Hui when she returns to less explosive subjects; still, this is a film to be seen.

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