NYAFF 2017 Review: Kfc (Vietnam 2017)

Kfc starts out with the opposite of the Fargo disclaimer – a emphatic reassurance that the film’s events are purely fictional.  Whether that’s a reaction against Fargo or just an attempt not to get sued, I don’t know, because Kfc will turn you off not just the titular chicken franchise, but food in general.  This grotty little Vietnamese indie constantly assaults its audience with graphic, repellent imagery and a wet, visceral soundtrack that is somehow even more nauseating than the film’s visuals.  Yet the film is strangely absorbing, and I found myself lost in its puzzle box structure.

Kfc depicts a daisy chain of atrocities, some violent, some sexual, all utterly repellent.  At first I thought I was watching a twisted version of Richard Linklater’s Slacker, one where every passerby was a murderer, necrophiliac or cannibal.  But watch carefully and connections emerge – while the film is told non-linearly, there is a strong through-line and the film rewards an engaged viewer.

Reminiscent of the worst horrors of Billy Tang’s infamous Category III output like Red to Kill and Run and Kill, Kfc, like those movies, has a surprisingly strong story and characterization that justify the grueling carnage and draws the connections between violent acts.  And Le Binh Giang, a first-time director, clearly has talent to spare, knowing when to throw in darkly comic touches like kids lighting up under a prostitute’s bed while she entertains a john.

Kfc is not for weak stomachs, but at a tidy 68 minutes, never overstays its welcome and heralds interesting developments in the perpetually overlooked Vietnamese film industry.  Samuel Jamier, NYAFF Executive Director, singled this one out in his interview with CSB and I can see why.

2 1/2 out of 4 stars (Good).  Kfc is playing as part of the New York Asian Film Festival on July 6, tonight.

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