Journey from the Fall (2006) Movie Script

"Do you want to end up
like this dead Viet Cong?"
April 30, 1975
Honey! What are you doing?
Long! Son!
Mai! Where are you going!
What happened to you?
Why didn't you come home?
I can't go with you.
- Here, take these.
- What are you saying?
What about your mother and Lai?
All our plans?
Take mother and Lai to the boat.
The Americans will still wait.
Wait for what?
Wait for your dead corpse?
Our family doesn't work without you.
Look at these!
Flyers! How do we expect to
fight a war with flyers?
The Americans have abandoned us.
They've broken their promise.
Then we should go.
Everyone is leaving, too.
If we don't fight for our country,
then who will? Who will?
The war is already lost.
What's left to fight for?
- The Americans have left us!
- Screw the Americans!
Do you think things would be
any different if they had won?
Take mother and Lai for me.
This family isn't going anywhere
without you. Nowhere.
I don't want to take this
family down with me.
I've made up my mind.
This is my decision, and mine alone.
Why are you the only one who gets to
decide what happens to this family?
Please. Please understand.
Go without me.
The whole family stays.
This room is nice.
But I liked my old one better.
Shut up! I don't want to hear
another word out of you!
Get in!
Hey! Remember to wake me up
for dinner!
Just shut the hell up!
That's right.
Make sure you're this loud.
Because Le Loi forgot to return the sword,
there was no rest in the country.
The Chinese returned
with a greater army.
They drove Le Loi's army deep into
the mountains until there was noway out.
The Ming army was evil.
They didn't want to kill Le Loi.
They wanted to see his whole
army starved to death.
Le Loi knew
if they stayed in the mountains
too long, they would all die.
Why didn't they fight?
When you are really hungry you can't do
anything, except wait for death.
If they all died,
then why tell me this story?
- Who said they died?
- You did.
You said that they all
starved to death.
I just said,
that if they starved,
then they would die.
You see?
That means they're all going to die.
- He's over there!
- Don't hurt me.
Someone got caught.
- Are you boat people?
- No!
- Is it the secret police?
- Hush.
You'll rot in prison for this.
- But I'm not a boat person.
It's late.
Go to sleep, son.
But I'm not sleepy.
I said go to sleep!
Go to sleep, son.
We can draw tomorrow.
when will they get here?
Either tonight or tomorrow.
What does that mean?
Are we leaving tonight or tomorrow?
You should get some rest.
I'll wake you if anything happens.
Grandma will leave it here
for tomorrow.
Go to sleep now.
- Grandma.
- What, son?
What happened then,
if they didn't die?
A great sacrifice.
Le Lai was a great General,
who had a plan to save Le Loi.
"Re-Education is good. "
Take your reports!
Can't you understand Vietnamese?
Everyone out!
Move it!
Keep moving.
You there.
Sit over here.
Private, shut the door.
Yes, sir!
We know you were a
high ranking officer.
You don't have to write any
more self evaluations.
We already know about all your crimes.
I've committed no crime.
"No crime?"
You sided with the American imperialists.
Waged war against the revolutionaries.
You're a traitor to your country.
To your own people.
"Traitor to my country?"
I fought to keep my country free.
"Fought to keep your country free. "
People like you don't even know
what it means to free Vietnam.
Only now is Vietnam truly free.
Now that the Americans
have abandoned their posts.
Your crimes are many.
You dared oppose the revolution.
But we succeeded.
All across the land,
we freed the people of Vietnam.
Did you free the people?
Or did they free you?
That kind of ungrateful talk
will only get you killed.
Death is nothing.
The day Saigon fell is my memorial.
What's wrong?
Where's your smile?
Want me to open the window?
Are you apolitical prisoner
or just a prisoner?
The world is so screwed
up these days.
You try to leave by boat,
and you're a traitor.
I told them straight.
I'm not abandoning Vietnam.
I just don't want to live
in a communist opera.
Your index finger.
Whose work is that?
It's my work.
You dodged the draft
by cutting off your own finger?
It was either my finger
or my charming smile.
So I sacrificed the finger.
You should have yanked
your damned teeth out.
In this war,
Communist or Nationalist,
North or South,
I couldn't care less.
My fathers before me,
in their fight against
the French and Chinese,
they all fought for
noble causes.
But with me,
liberating Vietnam from Vietnam?
Nothing noble about that.
Clowns like you,
have no causes.
That's why I became a
boat person.
But I'm jinxed.
Keep getting caught.
Caught and tossed in a camp.
Then tried to escape.
Now I'm sitting here with you.
This life is like
being in a box.
But this box is inside
another box.
If you feel this way,
why bother trying to
escape the country at all?
To find a bigger box.
You crying?
If you cry, then I won't have the strength
to make it through this place.
I need you to tell me
that you are happy.
Tell me that our family
is well
and not in want of anything.
I'm happy.
I'm happy.
Lai is at home with your mother.
Everyone is doing very well.
I hear that everyone is going to
"The New Economic Zone".
If the opportunity comes,
I want you to take the family.
Did you get any sleep?
No, mother.
You should take better care of your health.
If not for yourself, then for Lai.
Don't worry about me, mother.
I know how to take care of him.
Why do you tell him
the story of Le Loi and Le Lai?
It's a part of history.
Everyone should know
the history of our country.
But you're telling it wrong.
It's not what you say that's important,
it's when you say it.
I don't think now is the time either.
Lai needs to hearths story.
He misses his father.
Forget it, mother.
Please wake up Lai for me.
It's time to get ready.
Wake up, son.
"Nothing is more precious
than freedom. "
You have been fooled.
You are all here today,
because you have let the Americans
and their puppet government
fool you!
All of you have sold out
our beloved nation
to help the Americans
and their puppets.
They keep relocating us.
How is my family supposed to visit me?
Don't be so naive.
It's part of their plan.
Stop whining.
Just be glad we're not dead.
If I were dead,
at least my spirit would be free
to find my wife and daughter.
Don't worry, Trai.
My wife, Quynh,
has a plan to get us out.
Your crimes deserve death!
This country will never forgive you!
Heaven will not acknowledge you.
And when you finally die,
even Mother Earth will not
receive your rotten corpse!
the Party is different.
The Party will not
imprison you for 5 years...
or 10,
or 20years.
The time that you spend
in re-education
is up to you!
From Quynh's description,
He's the one.
But his face is not
What if he cheats you?
I know it's risky,
but I assure you,
we will die if we stay here.
Let me warn you now,
The barb wire security of this camp
may appear to be harmless,
But I dare you to cross it.
Lastly, you should know
that re-education
will reform you into
the kind of person
society will deem
as moral and upstanding.
To meet the standards
of our Socialist Vietnam.
And prosperous.
Never forget the immortal words
of our founding fathers,
back on September 2, 1945,
"Nothing is more precious
than freedom!"
Grandma, how am I supposed
to draw her if she turns?
Let grandma see.
It's beautiful.
If only your father could see this.
Hurry, let's put this away.
- Who is it?
- Tuan. It's time to go.
- Who are they?
- This is Phuong. She'll be coming with us.
- Hello.
- Hi.
And this is my brother.
- What's your name?
- "Sun". He's a mute.
We'll split into two groups.
You and Phuong will go with Sun.
You two come with me.
No, I want to go with my grandson.
We can't all go together.
Big groups are easy to spot.
- I want to go with grandma.
- Quiet!
- He's so small.
Does he even know the way?
- Don't worry. He knows.
We'll meet up on the boat.
- You need to change. Hurry!
You can't blend in wearing that.
- Give me a few minutes.
- I don't want to go.
- What is it now?
- Son.
Go with your mother.
We'll see each other again on the boat.
- Grandma.
- Come on, this way.
In Le Loi's darkest hour,
Le Loi's great General, Le Lai,
made the ultimate sacrifice.
He borrowed Le Loi's cloak and armor,
and twelve of his best warriors.
Late at night, Le Lai rode out
with his men to fight the Chinese.
His plan was to create a rift in the blockade
just big enough for Le Loi to escape.
Le Lai knew that as long as
Le Loi was alive,
our country would still have hope.
After all, Le Loi still had
Kim Quy's sword.
At first Le Loi was very angry.
But when he looked across the battlefield,
and saw the rift opening in the blockade,
Le Loi knew then what he must do.
You want oranges?
I'll get you some. One kilo please.
- And a pineapple, too.
- Don't buy that.
- Why not?
- Bad luck. Pineapples have eyes.
No pineapples. Just the oranges.
- Thank you.
- Hurry, let's go.
Are you running away?
Because I can run way faster.
Bite me?
I'll bite you.
This cricket is huge.
It's a rice cricket.
He's as big as a praying mantis.
Don't waste it.
In this camp, a cricket like that
is equivalent to a bowl of rice.
This guy? One bowl?
He's more like half a bowl.
This is the fifth time I've been
caught escaping by boat.
The first few times, I was cheated.
Third time, I got caught by
the coast guards.
The time after that,
I made it past the coastline.
The boat sank.
Swam back. Nearly died.
The last time, I got as-far
as-the open waters.
A huge freighter pulled up.
Thought it was American.
Turned out to be Russian.
They towed us back.
You always escaped by yourself?
My wife and son are in Vinh Long.
She's coming up to visit
this weekend.
What about you?
My mother,
wife and son escaped in '77.
Any news?
They were,
The coast guards sunk their boat.
They suspected the boat
was smuggling people.
How did you find out?
At the Xuan Loc camp,
our neighbor visited.
She told me.
Have some rice.
Breaded cricket.
Then fried.
You mean butter-fried cricket,
Or stir-fried cricket?
Rip off the head,
stuff its belly with a peanut.
Roll it in flour.
and then,
dip it in fish sauce with ginger.
That's not tasty.
You have to stuff it with a peanut!
You get the head.
Respect the elders.
"Elders", my ass.
I still got it.
Give me the body.
I get the ass, you get the head.
No. I want the body.
It's the richer part.
How smart of you!
Hey! Don't wash out the flavor!
I have to wash out the piss!
That's the flavor. Hand it over.
Hurry up!
Damn. Another land mine.
Another poor soul.
Look out!
Log coming!
Log coming down! Log coming down!
Damn! Can't a man even eat?
I hope that Quynh can
get us both out of this place.
When will you realize
that they'll just take your money
and screw your wife?
I just need one honest, corrupt guard.
- Everyone be careful!
- Take the rope.
- Watch your heads.
- Pull together!
Pull! Pull!
Get ready!
Here comes another!
Watch your head!
Long! Pull the rope over your head.
- Take it over!
- Get it. Hurry.
- Now pull!
- Pull! Take it up!
Take it up!
Up you go!
Watch your legs!
Man down!
Someone help!
You're very lucky.
Your leg is broken,
but you can still work.
They said you were injured
while trying to escape.
In times of war, these scraps
of paper mean so much.
But more and more, I realize...
That I did not fight to earn
these scraps of paper.
In fact, what has become meaningful
to me has nothing to do with the war.
Take for example,
These bowls.
I bought these in Hai Phong...
When I had heard that my
aunt and uncle in Saigon
were so poor that they
ate from coconut shells.
For over a year,
I carried these bowls in
my shoulder bag,
careful not to crack them.
Most times,
I ate from a tin can.
I wanted to save them
as an independence day gift
for my aunt and uncle.
But then after April 30th,
I paid them a visit in Saigon.
They invited me in for dinner.
I saw for the first time,
a set of bowls, porcelain bowls,
imported from China.
These bowls never touched
their hands.
In yourself-evaluations,
you said that April 30th
is the day you considered
as your memorial.
Sometimes I think that
things would be different
if we all felt this way.
But it's not necessary
to include these thoughts
in your evaluations.
Because you are injured,
I'll arrange for you to
work in the com field.
Try to escape again,
And I'll kill you.
Where are we?
You wouldn't know
even if I told you.
Watch your step, son.
These things have thorns.
Step over this.
Don't push!
We'll all fall.
Here, stand.
Take my hand.
Mom, when are we
going to see grandma?
Just past the taxi up
ahead and we're there.
- "Taxi"? I thought we were going by boat?
- Here, they call a canoe a "taxi".
- How long before we're there?
- Stop asking! First mother and now son.
- Step over this, son.
- Watch your step.
Climb aboard.
Give me your bag.
Go on, son.
I'll lift you.
What's wrong?
I lost my sandals.
Get up. I'll look for it.
Hurry, miss.
Here, I found one.
Come on, miss.
It's just a sandal. Hurry!
Leave it!
It's just a sandal.
- It's gone. We're losing time. Gotta go.
- I can't go without my sandal.
It was mine.
I want it.
- I can't go without my sandal.
- No more!
Put on your straw hat.
When we're outside,
make like we're vendors.
Water the fruits with your hands
to make it look real.
- Yes.
- Please help me untie the canoe.
- Done?
- Let's go.
Let mommy take that.
Are you still holding on
to the sandal?
Crazy boy.
Mom, where's grandma?
Lai? Grandma's down here!
- Grandma.
- Please keep it down.
Make room down there.
- Grandma.
- Coming down!
Grandma was so worried.
- Where's your mother?
- She's up there.
- You her daughter?
- Yes.
She's been asking for you all night.
I'm so glad we're all here.
Mai, sit over here.
How long have you been here?
We got here about an hour ago.
We took a motor canoe.
I thought you two had been caught.
How did that happen?
It got stuck in a ditch.
Don't worry. Grandma will
buy you anew pair.
Here, son, you can
wear mom's sandal.
Who are all these people?
They're also leaving.
No more questions.
Try to sleep.
Lean back on grandma, son.
Stay down here, brother,
until we reach the open sea.
- What's happening?
- The coast guards...
They're chasing another
group of boat people.
What should we do?
Listen, everyone!
Be very quiet.
The coast guards are very close.
We'll wait til it dies down,
and then we'll go.
Sleep now.
Keep it down.
It's late. Sleep already.
Trai, Trai.
- I'm leaving tonight.
- What? Tonight?
Yes, tonight. But Quynh says that
there's only enough money for one.
What?... Why?
I don't know why.
I know I promised that we would
both get out, but now Quynh tells me
she doesn't have enough
money to get two people out.
You said it was a sure thing.
If you leave me in here now,
what is my wife and family supposed to do?
Please understand, my friend.
In these last two years,
we've been like blood brothers,
I beg you, please understand.
Phuong. Do you know how much
Daddy misses you?
Is anyone mistreating you?
I'm sorry I can't be there
to protect you.
Daddy is useless.
I see my mistakes now.
Please deliver this photograph to my
daughter when you get to America.
This is the last photograph I have of her
before she escaped by boat.
Please tell her that
her father has always loved her,
that I think about her everyday.
How can I deliver,
if there's no address?
Please do me this last favor.
If you make it to America, please try.
I'll be so grateful to you.
- Trai, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry.
- Promise me that you'll do it, please.
Okay? Take care of it.
You. Get up!
- Get up! Move out!
- What are you gonna do?
- Get out!
- What do you want?
- Move!
- Where are you taking me?
Where are we going?
Where are you taking me?
He's running!
Shoot him.
They killed Binh as if he was a pig.
- What are you going to do about it?
- I'm getting out.
The river is our best way out.
The fields are better.
What do you have in mind?
Swim down the river,
they'll shoot you for sure.
If you go through the fields,
even their mothers won't chase you.
What about the unexploded mines?
To get to life,
you have to cross death.
It's too dangerous.
You play the odds.
My wife says she wants to take
the kids to visit her mother.
Where's that?
The "New Economic Zone"?
You know the best way
to plan an escape?
You don't talk about it.
- Time for dinner already?
- I've had it with you.
- I don't feel well.
- Try to bear it, son.
Rub some eucalyptus
oil on, grandma.
Here's a towel.
How long have we been sailing?
Probably two hours, now.
Open the hatch!
I can't breathe.
Keep the hatch closed until we
are out of the harbor!
Try to throw up, honey.
You'll feel better afterwards.
- Mom, it won't come up.
- Just try, sweetie.
- Don't breathe the exhaust.
- Rub some oil on your nose.
Stick out your tongue.
Can I have some water?
Drink some water, Lai.
Drink it.
Go on, drink.
Just try.
One more sip for me.
- It tastes like gasoline.
- Take another sip.
Don't worry, honey.
Just throw up in this bag.
- ... sisterthrew up on my head.
- It's okay, honey, we're almost there.
Trai, oh God! Look what
they've done.
Try not to move. Just look at me.
Trai, please look at me.
What do you want?
You want your glasses?
Hang on.
Here, let me put your
glasses on for you.
Just keep your eyes on me.
I'm putting your glasses on.
There, your glasses are on.
you'll be okay, now.
Who would have thought that this
camp was once a lush jungle?
We now produce 10 tons of
corn each harvest,
not to mention production
of hay and lumber.
My dream is to cultivate
the rest of this land.
But there's no dirt, just mines,
plagued with mines.
I have your friends to thank
for making that discovery.
There is a French philosopher
Bethe name of E.M. Cioran.
He published a book called,
"LaTentation d'Exister"
Do you speak French?
He was an existentialist.
His philosophy
is that
most of our discoveries
are the result
of acts of total violence.
I don't follow existentialism.
But under the circumstances,
I think Cioran has a point.
After the next harvest,
I will bum the fields.
Since you and I share the same will,
I want you to lead the team of prisoners
who will help me clear the rest
of the unexploded mines.
Do you know why we won the war?
because of blind luck?
We believed that we were
fighting to free Vietnam.
At this moment,
I don't feel
the least bit free.
You are a prisoner of
your own ideology.
No amount of re-education will help you
understand what it means to be free.
Would you like to hear a joke?
What is the difference
between a re-education camp
and other prisons?
What's the difference?
In a normal prison,
you know what your crime is,
and how long your sentence lasts.
Do you know why people are more afraid of
Communists than they are of Death?
I don't know.
Because everyone knows
that communists have
no sense of humor.
Take him to the box.
Are you thirsty?
Would you like some orange?
Thank you.
Why are you by yourself?
My mother is in Saigon.
She wanted for me
to have a better future.
But she didn't care for herself.
Why is that?
She wants to be buried
next to my father.
When did he pass away?
Last year.
He died in a re-education camp.
We don't know where
his body his.
Then how will they bury
her next to him?
I've asked her that, too.
She said...
"I have no reason to leave. "
"If I die...
...then I want it to be
in my homeland. "
My husband also died
in a re-education camp.
In Suoi Mau.
They said he stepped on a mine
while working in the corn field.
How did your son
take the news?
He doesn't know.
With mother it's different.
She refuses to believe it
in her heart.
She wants to see his
dead body with her own eyes.
Every night she cries.
But this family is a stubborn one.
Today is your lucky day.
You have a visitor.
Get up!
You don't know me,
But you know my husband.
Mr. Trai Van Le.
Two years ago,
I went to visit my husband at the
Suoi Mau Re-Education Camp.
They had told me then
that my husband was dead.
This is Phuong,
my daughter,
recently sent me this,
along with two letters.
Looking at this photograph,
I wonder whether my husband's spirit
had flown to America
to find my daughter.
After I read her letter,
I learned that my husband was still alive,
and living in this camp.
For the two days that
I was on the train.
I tried to imagine
what my husband must have
said to my daughter
each time he looked at
this photograph.
I cooked for him
his favorite dish,
Two more hours, I rode
on an ox cart to get here.
I hoped.
I prayed.
"Let me see my husband. "
To see his face,
when he eats his favorite dish
cooked by my own two hands.
The first question they asked
was what did I have in my bag?
They made me dump it out.
They poked at it with their guns.
They searched here and there.
At the end,
they took me out
to my husband's fresh grave.
They have lost their humanity.
- Shut your mouth!
- Oh, Trai!
- No crying allowed!
- What did he do?
- Quiet!
- What did my husband do?
- Shut up!
- Sit down!
My husband is dead.
- Give me back my husband!
- You, sit down!
Give me back my husband!
I'm not afraid of you.
This dish
I give it to you.
You're very lucky.
Your son is very smart,
and also very talented.
Keep hope alive.
I'm going now.
Keep hope alive.
"Use leaves in toilet. "
"Dear Dad,
I miss you very much. "
"Please return this book to me
when you are free. "
Done at last.
Let's hear how it sounds.
Check the engine!
- What's wrong with the engine?
- Don't know.
It happens all the time.
You can come up now.
- Why are we stopped?
- Is the boat broken?
The engine is overheated.
It needs to cool down.
Please let me know.
What's really going on?
We left from CaMau
fourteen hours ago.
Here is Malaysia.
But our boat is stuck here.
If we can't fix our boat,
we'll drift towards Cambodia.
This is the Gulf of Siam.
The region is filled with pirates.
Can we avoid it?
Not if we hit a storm.
I have to dive under
to check the motor.
Is Tuan helping you?
Tuan was caught by the police
along with the last group.
He didn't make it.
Today, Comrade Tuan, you will take
this group to clear the mine fields.
Yes, sir.
Comrade Huong, take this next group
out to clear the corn fields.
- Yes, sir.
- Move!
Stay where you are!
Don't run!
You'll trip the mines!
Follow the marked path!
Follow the red flags!
This way to the exit!
Slow down! Slow down!
This way. Go this way!
Long, are you all right?
Do you still have room
on your boat?
- Yes, yes.
- Let's go!
Long, keep running!
- Come on, let's go!
- Wait!
Help me with him.
- No way. He's a guard.
- Do it!
One. Two. Three.
Follow me.
Toss him up.
Toss him up.
One. Two. Three.
I'll go first.
Long, where are we going?
Through the jungle to the fall.
Go this way.
Hurry up!
Damn it!
Why are you always falling?
Hurry, get up.
Put your leg down.
Thanh, did you hear that?
Behind that bamboo patch.
I'll go check it out.
- I'll go with you.
- You stay here.
It's just an old woman.
No need to hide.
Come out here.
Where are you?
- Thanh.
- Long, I've got her. Long!
I caught her, Long!
Thanh, what the hell are you doing?
- Long, come quick!
- What are you doing?
- Take the knife in her basket!
- Why did you grab her?
Quick, the knife is in her basket!
She'll tell everyone if we let her go.
Lady! Listen, lady.
If we let you go, you can't tell anyone!
Long, we can't-take a chance
on letting anyone know.
Swear before heaven and Buddha
that you won't tell anyone!
- Let her go.
- You crazy? She'll tell everyone!
Let her go!
Do it!
Leave, lady.
Thank you. Thank you.
Are you nuts?
Get lost, lady!
Have you gone nuts?
Why did you grab her?
What were you thinking?
What were you thinking?
Keep it down, old man.
Let them shoot you in the Leg
and see how you take it.
That's what you get.
You were really going to kill
that old woman today.
Let's hope she keeps her word.
If you had killed her,
you would be just like them.
She's probably a communist, too.
Just you wait and see.
Have a banana, cry baby.
These plantains make me
think of banana desserts.
Fried bananas...
or sticky rice and bananas.
Here... look at what my son drew.
That's him.
You really think you'll find them?
He drew this in America.
No matter what happens,
I have to get this book back to my son.
Let's hope we make it
to the boat in time.
Kill the lights, old man.
Take this porridge to Nam.
- Excuse me.
- Have some porridge.
Thank you, miss.
Do you think that lamp is bright
enough for other boats to see us?
The moon is full.
Let's hope they can see us.
Today is already mid-August.
You're right.
Today is the Moon Festival.
So much has happened,
I forgot all about it.
I remember the first time Lai's father
helped him light his first festival lantern.
I don't think I'll ever
forget these memories.
You can celebrate the
Moon Festival anywhere.
But it won't have
the same atmosphere.
I know what you mean.
I remember going to the temple,
giving thanks for the harvest,
- and eating sticky rice.
- With hot tea.
That's right.
With hot tea.
I wonder if the young ones
will miss Vietnam the way we do.
Lai knows that he's
leaving his homeland.
But I don't think he will ever
understand why we had to leave.
Sleep now, Sun.
Wake up, Lai.
Have some porridge.
Miss Phuong.
Please have some porridge.
Thank you.
What was that?
- What was that?
- What just happened?
Get down!
Everyone, get down.
- Hurry, Mai. Run away!
- Mother!
- I beg you, please.
- Spare me, please!
- Mom!
- My baby!
My baby! My baby!
Let me go!
Go! Run!
Go this way, Sun!
Run away! Run!
Let her go!
Get off me! Get off!
Hands off!
What have I done?
Please, please. I beg you!
I have nothing! Nothing!
Let him go!
Leave him alone!
No! I beg of you!
I beg you!
Oh God, no!
Please, God!
Don't let them take my daughter!
Don't take her away!
My baby!
Take me! Not her!
Let go! Let go of me!
Let go!
Don't touch me!
Let me go!
Open this lid!
I want my daughter, Hong!
Hong! Hong!
My daughter!
Give me back my babygirl!
Hong! Hong!
Don't leave me!
Are you okay, Long?
What do we do now?
You see that rock?
We have to make it past that.
It's too rocky.
If you lose your footing, cover your head,
and let the current take you out.
- Okay.
- Play the odds!
- Play on!
- Go!
Find them!
Is this him?
Is this him?
And so it was that the great General
Le Lai sacrificed his life to save Le Loi.
As promised, the emperor
escaped the mountains alive.
This time, Le Loi would not forget
his promise to the great turtle god.
But first, he had a war to finish.
USA, 1981
Why were you fighting
with those boys?
Because they called me a bastard.
Pay no attention to them.
You have a father.
How long will father be in prison?
Grandma doesn't know.
Well then, do you think
he misses us?
Of course he does.
Everytime he receives a letter or sees
your drawings he thinks about you.
Then how come he
doesn't write back?
Like grandma said before.
He's not allowed to write
letters in prison.
What if we waited all this time,
and they never let him out?
Even if they keep him there forever,
will you ever forget about him?
Then he will never forget
about you.
Don't tell mom about
what happened today okay?
I won't tell,
if you promise to keep
our letters a secret.
- Promise?
- Promise.
No shoes in the house!
- I'm here.
- Oh?
You're home early tonight.
Today is a holiday,
so they let us out early.
What happened here?
What's going on?
Your hair is too long.
I'll take you to get
it cut tomorrow.
Don't you have school tomorrow, mom?
I do.
Afterwards, I'll take you.
Sleep, now.
Can you leave the light on?
Starting next week,
Nam will pick Lai up from school.
I have arranged for Lai to stay
with him until he gets off work.
That's not convenient for Nam.
It's better for Lai to have
someone look after him.
But I am looking after him.
Have you seen his face?
How can I let you take care of him
if you hide things from me?
I didn't want you to worry.
Why not, mother?
I'm his mother. If he's hurt,
then of course I should worry.
I don't understand why
you keep things from me.
I understand him.
You don't understand him!
You're never home!
What I meant to say is...
that you work til very late.
He's still growing.
He needs his father around.
Miss Mai?
Phuong, is it you?
Miss Phuong.
I can't believe it's you.
It's been so long since
I've had Vietnamese crepes.
I can't find the ingredients here.
How did you end up in California?
We were sponsored by
a Christian Coalition.
Actually... it was Nam
who brought us to California.
- Nam, our boat captain?
- Yes, That's right.
We were supposed to
go to Virginia.
But we were scared Grandma
couldn't handle the cold.
Forget it.
California is the best place,
you know.
Otherwise I wouldn't
have seen you again.
You should thank Buddha.
It makes me so happy
to see your bright face.
When we first got to America,
Grandma wanted to
become a Buddhist nun.
She believes that it was Buddha
that rescued us from the boat.
You should know this by now.
On the boat people prayed
to any and every god,
just to stay alive.
For us to have survived
what happened on the boat,
was surely an act of Buddha.
Why couldn't it have been
a stroke of luck?
Because living without faith
is just as good as being dead.
I believe that Mai has faith.
You just haven't
found it yet, right Mai?
Over here they have
an expression.
If you're missing anything,
you'll find it at the mall.
What are you laughing at?
You ride the horsey.
- Your mom and I will go shopping.
- How nice for you.
How did you manage to adapt
to this new life in just one year?
My fourth uncle helped
me out a lot.
How long has
he been in America?
Since 1974.
He taught me something.
If you want to make a new life
for yourself in America,
then you have to abandon
all of your past.
According to my uncle,
This is Vietnam.
Crepes are ready!
Oh, that smells so good!
What smells like crepes?
He's got a sharp nose.
Is that you, Phuong?
Hello, Nam.
What's that?
Hold on a minute.
Hold on. There's more.
Fish sauce.
Where did you get that?
Let's test this out.
This is my favorite song.
Gosh, who would have thought
that you were so romantic?
Eat while it's hot, Phuong.
Yes. Thank you, grandma.
.. Let's not fool ourselves...
.. Speak not of love when we're alone...
.. Let's not fool ourselves...
.. Who knows where this love will go?..
.. Let's just hide our souls,
.. and not let hope make drunks of us...
.. Let our shoulders touch,
.. and know it's just
...a dream...
Lai, take this plate of vegetables
to the table for grandma.
Later, grandma. I'm drawing.
Drawing what?
A picture.
What picture?
- One from a story.
- Which story?
I'll show you when I'm done.
That boy...
- Cold?
- All day.
- After you.
- Chopsticks, please.
Have some ribs.
Let's go, son.
You okay?
Who is it?
Time to eat.
Okay. Give me a second.
What are you making?
I'm making turtles, uncle.
Who taught you to make
it so nice?
I taught myself.
Let's see what grandma
made us for lunch.
Sauteed catfish.
Your mom said that grandma used to
run a rice stand in front of the house.
I used to wake up early every
morning and watch her cook.
I bet she's a good cook.
- Uncle Nam?
- What, son?
Do you know a lot
about Vietnam?
Of course I do.
Then, do you know about
the legend of Le Loi?
What Vietnamese person
doesn't know it?
That's the legend about
the lake in Hanoi.
There's really a lake?
Yeah. That's the place
where Le Loi...
returned the sword
after he became emperor.
That's why the lake is called,
.. Lake of the Restored Sword...
But I thought Le Loi forgot
to return the sword.
Who told you that?
Grandma told me.
That's not how I heard it.
But did grandma tell you
how the sword was returned?
Here's how it goes.
This is after Le Loi had driven
the Chinese out of Vietnam.
One night as he was
crossing the lake,
Suddenly, the sword...
inside the scabbard,
started to rattle and shake.
Then it shot. ZIP!
Straight into the sky.
At that moment, a giant turtle
came up from the water.
It opened its mouth, snatched
the sword and dove under.
Have you ever been there?
Don't you want to see
the sword and the lake?
Don't you want to see
the sword and the lake?
It's just a story.
Grandma says it's real.
Obviously, your grandma
knows more than I do.
All right.
Remember to save some
of the sauteed fish for me.
Remember to save some
of the sauteed fish for me.
- Uncle Nam?
- What, son?
Thank you.
For this afternoon.
It was nothing.
Should I close the door?
Yes, please.
Watch your feet.
What, son?
What do you think
about uncle Nam?
Uncle Nam is a good person.
It's thanks to him that
we are now in America.
I like him, too.
Have you written to
your father, yet?
Yes. Let me get it.
No shoes in the house!
That boy is impossible.
Here, grandma.
Is this when Le Lai and Le Loi
are trapped in the mountains?
Yes, it is.
Do you like it?
I do.
And so will your father
when he receives it.
I'll send it tomorrow, okay?
Two cans.
One more?
Two cans?
Two cans.
Oh, boy.
- Grandma!
- Sit down, son.
Step up, son.
Phuong, this is too scary.
- Mom, let's race.
- No, I'm getting dizzy.
Phuong. Mai. Smile!
Hold on tight for me.
Look up! Look up.
- Phuong, how do I make it stop?
- It won't stop for a while.
Sit proper.
- Lai, come out for some photos.
- Come out, son.
- Did you have fun?
- Sure did.
This way. This way for photos.
- Mai. Phuong. Let's take some photos.
- Okay.
Okay. Go this way.
That's right.
- You weren't dizzy?
- Okay, sit right here.
Grandma sits here.
Mai and Phuong sit here.
Yes, That's right.
All righty, then.
Let's take some pictures.
Phuong, scoot over.
That's right.
Lai, sit up.
Everyone look forward.
Mai, it's a photo.
Smile for the camera.
One. Two.
Mom, mom. Let's go again.
- I've got a headache.
- Here, I'll take you.
- We can take more pictures.
- Grandma, grandma.
- Let's go play.
- Okay, but I'll wait outside.
- Okay, we'll stay here.
- Yes, don't go anywhere.
- Oh, boy. My head hurts.
- Just rest here fora bit.
I need an aspirin
or something.
Hi there.
What a cute girl!
Hello, miss.
Excuse me.
But is your name Phuong?
- Do you know this man?
- No.
My name is Binh Loc Hoang.
Is your name Phuong Van Le?
Grandpa, let's go.
Give grandpa a minute.
He needs to talk to this lady.
The person in the photograph.
Is it you?
Where did you get this?
Are you the one in the photo?
My mother took this
before I left for Can Tho.
Why do you have it?
Praise Buddha.
That I have found you today,
in the name of your father.
I have carried this photograph
around for almost two years.
But today, I finally get
to meet you face to face.
I was...
I was in the Da Ban
re-education camp with your father,
Trai Van Le.
My father was never at Da Ban.
He died at Suoi Mau.
No. No he didn't.
They transferred your father and I,
all of us to Da Ban in the night.
Your father had asked me...
to find you,
and deliver this photograph.
Your father...
always loved you,
and every night,
he would look at
this photo, and cry.
You are your father's
only reason for living.
don't ever forget that.
My uncle was wrong.
How can I ever accept
that America is my homeland,
when my mother and father
are still in Vietnam?
I have a past, Mai.
Do you know that...
when I was taken that night,
I almost went crazy.
But I thought of my mother.
I thought of my mother,
and prayed to my father's spirit
for the strength to endure.
You should write your mother,
so that she can visit your father.
I know that he would
want to hear from you.
if my father was
transferred to Da Ban,
Do you think that your husband
could also be there?
I thought about that, when I heard
the news about your father.
Would you like me to send
word along with my mother?
Don't say anything
to my mother and Lai.
At least for the time being.
I'll wait for you outside.
I need your advice on something.
What is it?
I think Long is still alive.
Why do you think so?
It's a feeling I have.
Have you told
Lai and Ba Noi, yet?
That's what I find difficult.
I don't think it's that difficult.
Ba Noi and Lai need
to know about this.
But I have no proof.
I don't want to tell them.
That would be false hope.
My mother passed away
when I was only fourteen.
At that time my father
was a fisherman.
After she passed away,
he lost all his spirit.
What happened to him?
Because he loved her so much,
he lost the will to do anything.
I had one younger brother,
and four little sisters.
Suddenly, I had to become both
mother and father to them.
How is your father now?
He's been living
in his own world,
ever since she died.
You have to find Long.
Why aren't you playing outside?
Did something happen at school?
You like playing with these?
I have something for you.
Wait a bit.
Kim Quy has to have a sword.
Let's eat.
Wonder what grandma
cooked for us today.
Pork in coconut juice.
You're still home?
What is this?
Why is Lai writing
to his father?
I needed to give him hope.
To ease his mind.
By writing to a dead person?
- Long is not dead.
- How do you know?
Giving him hope
is not a bad thing.
Giving him hope
is not a bad thing.
If you knew Long was alive,
wouldn't you tell me?
I need hope to live, too!
Your way of giving hope
is harmful to him.
I don't think so.
I would do anything in this world
to protect this family.
You're wrong.
You don't know the harm
that you're doing to him.
I am his mother.
I cannot let anyone
harm him like this.
You are no mother
to my grandson.
A stone has more warmth
than what you have shown him.
Since the day we were rescued,
you have been nothing
but cold to him.
Do you know how his mind is affected
having to grow up without his father?
If I knew where my son was,
I would cross jungles and mountains
and cut my feet to find him.
I would hand these letters
to him myself.
If he is dead,
I would burn these letters
at his altar for him.
That is the pain of my womb.
That is a mother's love,
do you understand?
What's the matter here?
What's wrong, grandma?
Do you know about this?
He hasn't been in school
for the last three days.
Where did he go?
Is this true?
Why didn't you tell grandma?
Are you hiding things from me?
I hate you.
Don't shame your mother.
Why not?
Isn't that what you wanted?
It's not her fault.
Then whose is it?
It's your fault.
You're never at home
when I need you.
You don't care about
me or grandma,
or care if dad is
alive or dead.
I said That's enough.
You, yourself said that
mom doesn't think about dad.
You, yourself said that
mom doesn't think about dad.
Ever since we got to America,
you've never asked about
or said anything about dad.
All you care about
is uncle Nam.
How can you say that?
Uncle Nam has treated us
like his own family.
With you,
he has treated you
like his own son.
I am not his son.
And he is not my father.
My father s still alive
in a prison in Vietnam,
and you act as if he's dead.
Shut up!
Just shut your mouth!
Do you know what I've been through
to be with this family today?
Do you think your mother
is still alive?
She's dead already.
Dead already!
I died the day
they took your father.
I died again out on
that ocean, Lai.
This person you call
your mother,
is nothing but a corpse,
living only to take care of you.
But your real mother
is already dead, son.
I hope you know.
She's dead, son.
When you were three,
your father had just
returned from war,
and you had just finished
making your first kite.
Our whole family went out to fly it.
The kite soared real high.
Then we made
little paper circles,
that we wrote our wishes on
and attached to the kite string.
We watched as the circles
went up into the sky.
But afterwards,
something happened.
We were so busy
doing our own things,
that we forgot you were
still flying the kite.
We didn't notice until
we heard your cry.
I didn't know where you were,
or what happened to you.
That was the scariest
moment of my life.
I promised myself,
that if I found you,
I would never, ever let you
out of my sight again.
I'm sorry.
I'm sorry I haven't
been there for you.
But I promise you,
from now on,
I will always be there.
Everyone stay calm
until I get to you.
Children and the elderly first.
Slowly. Children first.
Injured. Anyone injured?
Careful, we have an injured here.
Careful. She's badly burned.
Please be gentle.
Be very gentle.
Be gentle. She's in a lot of pain.
Bring her up. Bring her up.
Careful! She's really badly burned.
Slowly! Slowly!
Legend has it that Le Loi
returned the sword,
but it makes no mention
of the emperor's loss,
and of Le Lai's great sacrifice.
Though Le Loi kept his promise,
he realized
Kim Quy's sword
belongs in the lake.
As long as the sword returns,
Vietnam will always have hope.
By the time you finish,
there won't be any wind.
You can't be too careful.
- Oh no, it's falling.
- Pull it up, uncle.
- Hurry, uncle.
- Hold on. Hold on.
Wait, son.
All right, let's go.
My turn.
Try to keep it steady.
It's climbing.
Pull. Pull.
See, uncle?
I can do it.
What are you writing, grandma?
Wait a bit.
Peace and
Good health.
Paste it, now.
I'll make another wish.
- Here, mom.
- Good. Now I can attach it.
- I want to make a wish.
- Oh, here.
Oh, there it goes.
Hope it goes high.
Mai, you write one.
I want to write, too.
Can you attach this for me?
Oh, this one is going
to go really high.
It's going up real high.
These two wishes went up first,
but my lottery wish took forever.
Isn't it beautiful