Title: Passport to Love (Chuyện Tình Xa Xứ)
Release Date: 2009
Directed By: Victor Vu
Starring: Bình Minh as Khang, Huy Khánh as Hiéu, Kathy Uyén as Tiffany, Ngoc Diép as Jennifer, and Tăng Bảo Quyên as Thảo
Passport to Love is about two best friends, Khang and Hiéu, who travel from Vietnam to study abroad in America and each find that love can bring changes in their characters. The two friends could not be more opposite. Khang is a rich, spoiled, playboy who goes to America to get a business degree and prove to his father that he is of some worth. Hiéu is a hard-worker to aspires to be the next Bill Gates (and idolizes him, in fact) to support his mother. He must leave his faithful and nearly perfect girlfriend/fiance, Thảo, back in Vietnam while he pursues his studies. Khang finds himself falling for Tiffany, a Vietnamese-American policewoman and single mom, while Hiéu is caught between Thảo and Jennifer, a bratty Vietnamese-American pageant girl.
To start off, I’d like to commend this film for its quality. From what I’ve seen of Vietnamese entertainment, it still has a long way to go to get on par with some of its Asian counterparts, but this film was right on track. Passport to Love has excellent crossover appeal, and by that I mean it could probably be enjoyed by both native Vietnamese audiences and Vietnamese-American audiences. That is something you don’t get with Korean movies and that’s probably due to the director’s Asian-American background. There is a perfect balance of comedy and drama and it wasn’t too awfully cheesy. It’s what you’d expect from a romantic comedy.
I found myself literally laughing out loud during some parts, especially the depiction of Jennifer. Thank goodness my Vietnamese isn’t as bad as hers! (At least, to my ears, it isn’t.) Those Miss Vietnam pageants are one of my pet peeves. I’m opposed to beauty pageants in general and with the superficiality of some of Vietnamese culture (if you’ve ever seen those super-obviously airbrushed photos some people get when they visit Vietnam with those super-composed poses, you will understand what I mean) it’s just heinous! If I ever met anyone like Jennifer, I probably would hate her.
Tiffany, on the other hand, is a superwoman. She kicks butt and no wonder, looking at Kathy Uyén’s filmography on IMDB (apparently she’s also been on How I Met Your Mother, another reason for me to watch that show.) She is someone Vietnamese-American females should look up to: strong, independent, and a balance of the Vietnamese and American culture.
As for Khang and Hiéu, one thing I’d criticize is how old they look. They do not look like they should be college students. They look older than my uncles, and all of them have children already. In the beginning, I liked Hiéu more than Khang, but as the plot developed, I found myself sympathizing with Khang more. It was interesting how going to America brought out sides of these characters that did not seem possible in the beginning.
The ending was a bit of a surprise. I won’t spoil it for anyone but I’m just going to say it was not what I expected.
If you are interested, and I definitely recommend watching it, the full movie is available on Hulu.