Johnny Nguyen's Banned CHO LON Is (Briefly) Leaked Online

Trung Rwo, Writer
[As a further FYI on this story, Twitch has learned that the version leaked was NOT the original, director's cut of the film but one of the subsequent re-edits with a great deal of violence removed in an attempt to pass censorship. So, if you're looking for the version that was originally intended, this isn't it. Also, the investigation under way to find the source is being conducted by police, so this is clearly being treated as quite serious and could have significant ramifications going forward.]

This morning, Vietnamese netizens went wild when a version of Johnny Nguyen's banned Cho Lon was leaked on YouTube. Only a few minutes later, that video was taken down. However, many people were able to download the 90-minute banned film and share it online. Soon after, Facebook was flooded with comments. One humorous Facebooker even said: "This will be the most-watched movie of 2013 in Vietnam."

Nobody knows for sure who leaked the film, but an investigation is underway. Charlie Nguyen published the following comment:

I am absolutely shocked and sad as if someone was killing my child. This is just a draft with incomplete content, sound, light, color, special effects and frame rhythm. I don't want anyone to see this version because it's like a raw meal! We've spent countless efforts and billions to make it perfect for the audience. And now I have to endure seeing people watching a bad draft version and evaluating the movie through it. People who leaked the film is a lack of knowledge and too cruel to Cho Lon and our brothers. Hopefully, he'd be arrested and sent to the court.

When Cho Lon was banned by Vietnamese censors last month, it officially spelled the end of the film's existence, as a domestic ban also prohibits the film from being sold or screened overseas. But now, a movie banned by the State was made public, albeit briefly, for anyone to see. If caught, those responsible for the leak could be charged with "spreading banned materials".

This is something that never happens in Vietnam. We'll keep you updated with the latest news as it develops.
Around the Internet:
  • Steve Austin

    Vietnam is cool. Even though we did get our butts handed to us.

  • kumari

    Johnny Tri Nguyen is the best

  • Trung Bùi

    this is a amazing film.....best of all in VN

  • Mina Bontempo

    It's a draft! It was censored! Put whoever did it in jail!
    In jail! It was a draft!

  • Dave Baxter

    I can't tell if you're being serious or not....

  • Mina Bontempo

    I wasn't, the guy is clearly overreacting. It's either ridiculous or loathsome.

  • He's reacting to people judging his work based on a version which is not fully his and is not fully finished, the leaking of which could possibly lead to him receiving a lifetime ban on ever being allowed to work in the country again if the authorities believe he was involved. It's a giant shit sandwich for Charlie and he's not overreacting at all.

  • Dave Baxter

    To be fair, I think Charlie's statement is largely for public eyes, and not necessarily his personal feelings. The statement IS, in a sense, an overreaction (people being thrown in jail for leaking a draft will always be overkill, no matter where, no matter what the "law" on the books is) but given that his country currently overreacts to such things, his statement is both exactly what is required of him as well as just as much an overreaction as those who would ban him for life for such a thing.

    If the consequences that are allowed are overreactions then everything that follows is part of this overreaction. At the very least the rest of the world should be ridiculing the situation and shaming the censor board, because they should be shamed. What we shouldn't do is give weight to the censor board's threat, but rather call them out for the ridiculous ass hats they are.

    The very fact that this "never happens in Vietnam" tells us something. Enough people seem to think it's time for these things to be challenged, and things are likely to get hotter before anything positive occurs. Plus it's tough to know how Charlie feels about this deep down. He's saying what he needs to say to keep things as level as possible for the time being, but I'll bet he's also looking to see what happens next, and is still deliberating sides.

    But that all said, it's doubtful he had anything to do with leaking this particular version, and it probably isn't the way he planned to handle things. But THAT said, this is how change happens, and it my offer him a more powerful legacy than just a guy who made MA flicks, however cool, and novel for his local market.

  • Mina Bontempo

    Thanks for summing it all up.

    To be frank, I don't know anything about the political situation in Vietnam. I was wondering accordingly whether Charlie Nguyen could be under some serious threat because one guy leaked a severely edited version of his film. As of now, there is no way to know I guess. I was perhaps a little deriding the hyperbolic reaction, which is of a piece, I suppose, with the political context in Vietnam, and the rhetoric that goes with it.

    When you come to think of it, Hugh Jackman was once as emphatic (" It’s like a Ferrari without a paint job."- I'm kidding). I guess they are both right (Charlie and Hugh) but I can't help but think that it's sort of futile.

  • There's certainly an element of that but you simply cannot brush off the censor board's threat. They've got the power to do it and there's a very good chance they will. They haven't done it before because the situation hasn't come up before but the scenario is very similar to what happens in China (who Vietnam models many policies after) where blacklisting HAS happened a number of times in recent years. This is a serious situation with potentially massive repercussions on the entire team that made Cho Lon, and there's a full police investigation already under way whether they support it or not. The only question is who the sights land on ...

  • Dave Baxter

    Definitely, not brushing off the threat - we've had our own blacklisting in the past, and it destroyed plenty of careers that should have had long, productive lives. But it would have destroyed far less had more come out against it, publicly, rather than the majority fretting over their careers. The threat is no doubt real, but I still say it shouldn't be acknowledged as "reasonable"/"not an overreaction" or anything like that. Because blacklists and bans will always be absurd. Charlie and Co. have to play the game to some extent, because they're stuck at the heart of it. But us out here on the fringes, I would argue it's far worse to give any reverence to the censor board's power rather than thumbing our nose at them.

  • Just skimmed through the version that leaked and I can totally see why Charlie's worked up. It's not even CLOSE to being a finished film. No foley, for one thing, which is death on a fight film. Tons of other stuff that's clearly not finished and it's not hard to work out at least some of the concessions made for censors. If I were him I wouldn't want my work judged based on this, either ...

  • Dave Baxter

    Amen to that. That does strongly suggest that Charlie had nothing to do with this leak. What a strange/interesting world it's becoming when we're all waiting with baited breath for the "official leak" :P

  • drkhrse

    i need to see this movie any way i can...

  • Đoàn Văn Tuân

    search key word "Bui doi Cho Lon" on Youtube

  • Bùi Quang Thành

    and Viewers must understand Vietnamese

  • Snoop Lion

    We discourage piracy here on Twitch.

  • bobhyio

    youtube!

  • You can easily find it. It's everywhere on the Internet now.

  • Neaato Org

    this is why vietnam can't have good things

  • Nguyen Danka

    It's not why Vietnam can't have good things ! We do have a lot of good things that you haven't had a chance to figure them out ! So make sure you clearly know about what you comment, dude !

  • Billy

    it was a movie reference, Danka :3
    also yay for Viet spring rolls

  • CannibalFerox

    Its not Cho Lon, but Vietnamese food is pretty damn amazing.

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