Review: Rousing, if familiar, adventure in Vietnamese folk tale ‘Tam Cam: The Untold Story’

Tam Cam Slide 1

Los Angeles Times
By Gary Goldstein
Published September 28, 2017

Director Veronica Ngo and a quintet of writers collaborated to adapt this popular Vietnamese fairy tale involving the kind, beautiful Tam (Ha Vi), who magically escapes the clutches of her wicked stepmother, Di Ghe (Ngo), and batty evil stepsister, Cam (Ninh Duong Lan Ngoc), to marry a handsome, conflicted prince (Isaac).

But as Tam’s jokey fairy godfather (Thahn Loc) prophetically notes, “The bigger the happiness, the bigger the trial.” And soon enough Tam finds herself up a tree (literally) as Cam conspires with a dastardly, soul-collecting high magistrate (Huu Chau) to eliminate the Prince and usurp the throne. Meanwhile, rival armies are also attempting to conquer the kingdom.

Plenty of “save the nation, destroy the enemy”-type action follows, including grand-scale battle scenes and one-on-one showdowns. Despite all the sword-wielding mayhem, Ngo avoids excess bloodshed, wisely keeping things in family-friendly territory.

Reincarnation, mystical amulets, miraculous fruits, a transformative oriole, monster morphing and more also factor in.

Acting that ranges from dutiful to scenery-chewing, suitable visual effects, and lavish sets and costumes round out this familiarly diverting yarn.