VietNamNet Bridge – They risk their lives for famous movie stars yet receive little recognition.



Illustrative image


The unsung action heroes of Viet Nam’s film industry are the stunt persons who work for low pay.

In Viet Nam, where shoestring film budgets are the norm, stuntmen and stunt women receive an average of VND400,000 (US$20) per stunt.  

The more dangerous the stunt, the higher the pay.

Six- or seven-metre high jumps from buildings and other sites pay VND3 million ($130), while a motorbike drive over a car commands double that amount.   

“The job is like an adventure, because working conditions are particularly dangerous and we lack safety equipment,” says Quoc Thinh, founder of the Quoc Thinh Stunt Men Club.

Thinh, who has more than 24 years experience, tries to perform his stunts in a single take to save production costs.

Falls from four or five metres require cardboard boxes placed underneath to cushion the fall. Some of the stunt actors have broken their legs while jumping.

“I escaped death when my safety belt broke when I was at a height of 57 metres,” Thinh recalls.

Stunt actresses also appear in local films.

Thinh’s younger female colleague, Phi Ngoc Anh, was the stand-in for three actresses in dangerous scenes in Gai Hong (Rose’s Thorn), a kung-fu and comedy film released last year.

She broke her collarbone jumping from a three-storey house. In the film, she can be seen performing a daring five-metre-long motorcycle jump, three metres in the air.

Thinh has worked with foreign film producers in Hong Kong, India, Thailand, South Korea and the US, who have praised the bravery and skills of Vietnamese stunt persons.   

"Only stuntmen in Viet Nam can do these dangerous scenes in very poor conditions,” says actor and film producer Ly Hung. “Not only are they very good at martial arts, but they are very brave. They risk their lives for film."

Hung has worked with members of the Nguyen Du Cascadeur Club, sponsored by the HCM City Cinematography Association, in scenes from Red Sea Pirates (Hong Hai Tac) a Hong Kong film starring Vietnamese and Hong Kong actors.

Scenes for the film were shot in Hong Kong and Viet Nam in 1995.

In Viet Nam, the French word cascadeur is used to describe stuntmen and stuntwomen, as there is no equivalent word in Vietnamese.  

Founded in 1992, the Nguyen Du Cascadeur Club was the first of its kind in Viet Nam. The club’s 45 members offer training to young people who are serious about pursuing the profession.

HCM City has about 70 stunt persons who are all skilled athletes, gymnasts or martial artists.

Thu Anh

related news

Vietnamese movie wins Hong Kong film awards    

Experts doubt revenue claims for Vietnamese films