In what can only be described as a sad day for the martial arts film industry, Charlie and Johnny Nguyen’s new film CHINATOWN (CHO LON), has been officially banned from release not only in its home country of Vietnam, but the rest of the world as well.
The gang over at Twitch have revealed that in Vietnam, the Law of Cinema (their version of the Motion Picture Association of America) has to be given clearance before it can be given a theatrical release. However, due to the extreme violence of gangster killings depicted in the film, the Vietnamese censors have officially refused to give the film a certificate. This is the official statement:
“[CHINATOWN] violated the Law of Cinema when showing scenes of gangsters blatantly set in battle, chaotic fighting with knives, swords, machetes, with blood spilling everywhere … without the interference of government, polices, people or any other social forces.
Recently the producers sent the edited version of [CHINATOWN], which cut some violent scenes and inserted some appropriate scenes. But it’s still not repaired overall, so the Central Board of Film Evaluation of the Ministry of Culture Sports and Tourism shall not issue licenses for [CHINATOWN].”
Star and co-director Johnny Nguyen was saddened by the news, comparing having the film banned to losing a son. The Nguyens had cut the film three times for the censors, hoping to have gotten a release in June, but it was too little, too late. The news have forced other filmmakers from Vietnam to speak out, feeling that there needs to be a change in the Law of Cinema. Ironically, another ultra-violent Vietnamese film, THE RACE, is set for release in July.
Even more sad is that a banned release in Vietnam means that it will never be available to be seen elsewhere. In other words, fans all over the world will never get a chance to see the film in its entirety. One can only hope that one day, there will be a change in how Vietnam sees films and maybe sometime, CHINATOWN will see the light of day. Until that day comes, as film fans, we can only hope and pray. In any case, we have supported the Nguyens and will continue to do so.