'How To Fight In Six Inch Heels' Is An Instruction on Vietnamese America

Categories: Film

Courtesy Ham Tran
The film takes place in Saigon and New York
The children of the Vietnamese Diaspora might have the most interesting relationship with their roots of all the second generations of the major immigrant groups in the United States.

They're allowed back to Vietnam, and many of them visit (myself included), but many them feel almost a complete disconnection from the Fatherland. Their parents stressed learning the language, but without people to practice with or experience with tonal languages, their abilities may be a little lacking. Depending on where they grew up, they might barely have a Vietnamese cultural identity at all.

It's an interesting relationship that's defined by small, almost unnoticeable mannerism -- mannerisms that Ham Tran's How to Fight in Six Inch Heels captures nearly perfectly. The hour-and-a-half romantic comedy is wickedly funny and beautifully paced, but where it really shines is in its treatment of the modernization of Vietnam and the relationship between Vietnamese Americans, local Vietnamese, and the country.

Courtesy Ham Tran
Tran (center) with cast
Santa Ana-raised Director Ham Tran (who splits his time between Orange County and Vietnam) and San Jose-born Actress/Writer Kathy Uyen (who is currently based out of Saigon and is a UCI Alum, zot zot) are possibly the only two people that exist who could so perfectly commit such a relationship to the screen. Six Inch Heel's characters are immediately memorable, and their actions are mirrored in the everyday life of young Vietnamese Americans -- from the trouble with tonal languages to the intense pressure succeed and occasionally awkward interactions with Vietnamese locals.

The film headlined the wonderful Viet Film Fest, hosted by Vietnamese American Arts and Letters Association, just last week, and will be showing May 3 at the LA Asian Pacific Film Fest. If you can, you should go; the film is an unexpected hit with stateside audiences in part because it's just so good.

And now, an interview with Director Ham Tran

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