The Saint Paul Public Library has recently added a large quantity of Hmong feature film DVDs to its collection. We are pleased to be able to offer these films, and this month we'll be highlighting a few titles.
In addition to the usual capsule review, each of these movies will be given a ranking of its crossover appeal to non-Hmong speakers. High crossover appeal means good subtitles, high production values and stories anyone can relate to. Low crossover appeal could mean various things, from poor or no subtitles to lower budgets to culture-specific stories that might not make sense to someone from a different background.
Chiv Keeb Caub Fab is the third in a series of action films centered around the real-life historical figure of Jao Fa. It's a prequel to the others. The subtitles aren't great, but you'll get the idea, and the action is actually pretty good, if not quite Jet Li. We also have Caub Fab 2, which is the same creative team and has gotten similarly good reviews. The Legend of Chao Fa appears to be the same historical figure and the same slant toward shoot-em-up action, but a different director (MN's Jimmy Vang Lee) and star. The Legend of Chao Fa premiered at MN Film Arts' In Search of Asia film festival in 2010. Like most action movies, you probably won't have any trouble following the story if you opt to skip straight to 2 or 3.
Crossover appeal: High, if you're an action junkie; Medium, if not.
Winner of the award for the Best MN Made Feature Film at the 2012 Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Film Festival, Journey to the Fallen Skies is the story of Leng, a Hmong-American man diagnosed with a terminal illness who takes a pilgrimmage to Laos in honor of the father he never knew. Lessons are learned about family, friendship, heritage and personal identity. Directed by Mong Vang and Brian Vue.
Crossover appeal: High.