Soon to be married, Anne (Kathy Uyen) is convinced her fiancé Kiet (Petey "Majik" Nguyen) is having an affair with a supermodel whilst working overseas in Saigon. The junior fashion designer from New York travels to Vietnam devising a scheme to catch him in the act, but her plan backfires.

Vietnamese rom-com on trend for genre.

Just a few weeks after the action effort Once Upon a Time in Vietnam descended on Australian shores, a second Vietnamese movie makes an appearance. How to Fight In Six Inch Heels (aka Am Muu Giay Got Nhon) sounds like it could be a martial arts movie too, but it’s strictly 'chick flick’ with this comedy straddling the fashion milieus of New York and Saigon.

most of Anne’s antics are of the sitcom variety

The premise revolves around an aspiring American/Vietnamese fashion designer named Anne (Californian actress Kathy Uyen) who after planning her career, love life and her procreation ambitions down to a refined schedule, has her strategy thrown off course when her American/Vietnamese fiancé Kiet (played with a giveaway accent by Australian magician Petey 'Majik" Nguyen) announces a surprise promotion that seconds him to Saigon for a mobile phone launch.

As a device to keep the dialogue primarily in Vietnamese, the pair hone their traditional language at home so their older, non-English speaking relatives will understand their wedding vows when the big day comes. In between occasional linguistic slips as he mixes up Vietnamese words such as the equivalents of 'paper" and 'testicle" (as in 'Not every detail can be written on testicles"), Kiet argues that absence makes the heart grow fonder and that the trip will boost his Vietnamese language skills. Accordingly, the couple separate for three months using Internet technology to see each other every day.

One such cyber conversation comes to an end with Kiet’s computer being knocked to the floor and revealing a distinctive set of red high heels under his couch. Not letting on that she has seen anything incriminating, some quick research by Anne suggests that one of three Vietnamese fashion models (played by real life models Phuong Mai, Yaya Truong and model/actress Truc Diem) may have bedded her boyfriend. Anne hops on a plane to Saigon to confirm her suspicions and, thanks to a hairdressing friend in Saigon’s fashion scene, disguises her geeky looks. Glam makeover in place, Anne catapults herself into Vietnam’s model world where she gets very chummy with her suspects as she investigates the possible infidelity of her fiancé.

The tone of the film is unsurprisingly light and most of Anne’s antics are of the sitcom variety in which she gets caught eavesdropping, or her makeshift New York backdrop (to hide the fact that she is actually making her Skype call in Saigon and not New York) inconveniently falls away.

One of the toughest calls on a comedy is to ask for emotional resonance, but when you’re dealing with the primary motivating emotions of fear and jealousy, it similarly feels weird to observe characters act on those emotions without really feeling them as an audience. Regardless, the film’s presentation is effective, the performances are joyfully buoyant and the film effortlessly jumps between English and Vietnamese dialogue (as do many of its actors), all of which helps the script maintain its deliberately silly momentum.

The film is directed by Ham Tran whose impressive 2006 boatpeople film Journey from the Fall depicted the plight and the aftermath of Vietnamese refugees escaping to the United States. Combining his editor’s sensibility (Tran has edited over 10 features) with his slick commercial style, Tran makes this indie film appear as mainstream as any similar movie coming out of LA. However, while Tran is driving the bus, How to Fight in Six Inch Heels seems very much the brainchild of its writer/executive producer Tim Tori. With this comedy, a couple of horror flicks and a martial arts drama on his resume, writer/executive producer Tim Tori looks set to try every genre he can to get his career up and running.

Regardless of who has authorship, it’s a savvy enough recycling of a vital moment from Ang Lee’s early career, which saw the New York-based Taiwanese filmmaker mix his cultural heritage, popular gay themes and a Manhattan setting. Being heterosexually focussed, How to Fight In Six Inch Heels doesn’t have the arthouse cachet of The Wedding Banquet, but it does a reasonable, if unchallenging, job of providing amusement.


1 hour 36 min
In Cinemas 12 December 2013,