By: Nick Askam
This film has stumped me for days. I don’t know what to rate it. I thought it was thought provoking, empathetic, and heartwarming, but the main character is so unlikable for me that it makes it hard to actually like this film. I know that shouldn’t hold me back. It’s got me thinking, though. Was it intentional?
The Soul of the Tiger is a French film starring Alex (Frederic Siuen) who just lost his brother and is living in France with his family and girlfriend, Eolane (Audrey Bastien). Alex is rediscovering his heritage and interested in getting to know his family better. This leads him to spending more time with his cousin, Lili (Xin Wang), which leads to all sorts of mayhem in his life.
This movie handles the feeling of being utterly lost and confused well. I felt that Alex was shocked and dismayed by all the events in the movie, which probably led to his many bad decisions that made me shudder. I don’t know how I would react in that situation, but I don’t think I would’ve handled it quite like him. This has led me down a path of wondering what Alex would have been like without the grief and ultimately getting into the film’s world long after the movie ended. I think that’s what makes it better than average.
Again, I’m not saying that this is a bad film by any means. I just think it is one that can be overlooked easily if you don’t fully pay attention to each of the character’s actions. It can be easily written off that this film is bad writing because they don’t like the character, but I see a film in which two cultures and stereotypes of each culture collide – even a little history is involved. The French culture has nuance in Siuen’s performance and that attacks the Chinese culture as it tries to make its way into the film. The way that they battled it out was subtle and made me want to rewatch it again to catch things I might have missed.
There were some parts of this film that I didn’t like. Personally, I wish some of the martial arts were toned down just a tad, and I thought some of the historical events were over-dramatized. I wish the film would’ve flowed a little better and that the score was a little easier to remember. These are all personal choices, so others may not have the same opinion. I think that’s what makes this film interesting, though. It’s having the same problem that Alex is having, which is that it’s hard to mesh many cultures together in order to get a film that breaks the mold.
Overall, I did enjoy this film. I definitely want to see it again sometime in the future because of how much it made me think of so many different things. Now that I know the ending and what happens, I wonder if I will have the same outlook on it. The film’s use of color as a way of foreshadowing will be much more interesting to see now that I know what’s coming.
Images from Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival