Since normalization with Vietnam, trade between the US and Vietnam has been on the steady rise. What’s not been reported on, however, is the cultural exchanges between the Diaspora and its homeland.

For the last few years, ,any Vietnamese American filmmakers and actors have been going to Vietnam to make independent films on the cheap.

For Dustin Nguyen – known for his role in the series 21 Jump Street in the late 80s that jump-started the career of Pamela Anderson and Johnny Depp - the result is FOOL FOR LOVE (De Mai Tinh). The film, directed by a Vietnamese American from San Jose, Charlie Nguyen, is now a box office smash in his homeland, Vietnam.

It’s the story about the travails of earnest bathroom clerk Dung (Dustin Nguyen), according to, “as he falls in love and quits his job at a five-star hotel to pursue the affections of a beautiful lounge singer, Mai (Kathy Uyen).”

Mai, however, is being chased by a real estate tycoon. In order to finance his pursuit of love, Dung is forced to work as a chauffeur to a very rich but very gay businessman looking for male companionship.

Charlie Nguyen is from San Jose and the movie is opened to limited audience at Camera 12 Downtown last weekend. It’s sold out to mostly Vietnamese American crowd. It is also being shown in Dalas, Houston, Orange County and Atlanta, where there are sizeable Vietnamese communities.
Both Dustin and Charlie have made another movie in Vietnam in 1997 called The Rebel and it involves Vietnamese martial arts and it was also a box office smash in Vietnam.

See my review:

NAM Editor, Andrew Lam, is author of East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres.