Paj Ntaub (The Rose Cloth) movie review

Monday, November 16, 2015

Image taken from Toj Siab Entertainment

Paj Ntaub has been long in the making, at least 5 years. Many people have asked me about its release date or has it been shelved. I have often posted on social media about my excitement about the movie. First of all, my childhood friend, Seng Yang is the director, producer, editor, writer, and many more. Second, my mom has a role in the movie. Third, the movie looks interesting. I'm Hmong and most people have never heard about us. I'm a movie fanatic and watch movies of all different languages and genres. A lot of friends have asked to watch a Hmong movie. Hmmm, there is none I would recommend. Plus my friends are non Hmong. I couldn't really show them many since most won't have subtitles. 

After Paj Ntaub released a trailer, I showed it to them and they were interested. English subtitles were included! The trailer is amazing.

Image taken from Kev

The title of the movie itself is significant because as a Hmong person, stories were created visually through embroidery called paj ntuab (litereally translate to rose cloth). Many Hmong families have paj ntuab in their household hanging on a wall.

I have been fortunate to be part of the movie premiere on Saturday, November 14, 2015. After posting it on social media, several people have waited for my movie review.

Paj Ntaub is about Doua Ly Xiong aka "X," (Steve Moua) a good looking guy with a great career. Everything is going well in his life but he is missing something. Women chase after him but he is in love with this nameless woman (Nancy Vang) who seems to exist only in his dreams. Soon his dreams starts turning into nightmares. His best friend, Tou (Gideon Xiong), has been by his side and helps him conclude about his dreams of reality.

Image taken from Toj Siab Entertainment

Doua Ly Xiong aka "X." Why X? It is a nickname since many Americans do not know how to pronounce Asian names, plus X is the first letter of his last name, Xiong. The movie is narrated by X. He tells us about his dreams, about this woman he wants to be with. He is in love with her but have no idea who she is. Wanting his dreams to become longer and control it, his dreams start to become nightmares and haunts him. 

Image taken from Toj Siab Entertainment

Steve does a fabulous job as X. He portrayed emotions well and is the perfect person for the role. One of my favorite scene is when X calls his friends to hang out but ends up solo. Even though X is the perfect man, he is alone while everyone else is enjoying their lives.

Image taken from Toj Siab Entertainment

Tou, X's best friend who has only confided in him about this nameless woman in his dreams. Once a naughty guy, he makes changes to his life. His mother (Geu Her, my mom) constantly bugs him about getting married because he is getting older. Honestly, Tou is my favorite character. Even though he is the underdog, deep inside him, he is truly a sweet, loving guy, a bit naive at times. The character Tou goes through several transformations. Gideon is awesome! The fact that he co-wrote the script with Seng also takes it a few notches.

Image taken from Toj Siab Entertainment
Image taken from Toj Siab Entertainment

I do like their bromance. One of my favorite scene it the mountain scene when X tells Tou about the nameless woman who he is in love with. I think everyone has at least one person who they trust, even if that person does not believe you. You have enough faith and trust in them to confide in them.

Image taken from Toj Siab Entertainment

Beautiful, angelic, nameless woman in X's dreams. Is she real or just a fantasy? Nancy is gorgeous and everything looks flawless on her. With just her presence alone, her beauty and poise speak for her unspoken scenes.

Image taken from Toj Siab Entertainment

Big shout out goes to Seng for creating a wonderful movie. You can tell he put his heart and soul into this project. The cinematography is amazing. The use of the lighting and colors contrast well with X's reality and fantasy world. The editing is very professional and done well. During the pre-movie, there were behind the scenes. You hardly ever think of what goes on because you just see the final product. The visuals on the martial arts fight scenes are put together well. Well done on the choreography. Because I'm a big fan of martial arts movies, I cringe at poorly made martial arts fight scenes.

I like the use of paj ntaub and its reference in the movie, along with the shaman scenes. Those scenes were powerful and magical.

Hmonglish was spoken in the movie. In my opinion, it is how most of us Hmong Americans speak when we see other Hmong Americans. English subtitles are available. However, I do wish the subtitles had a darker outline so it would pop more for non speakers. My daughter and her friend went to watch the movie with me and they both do not know how to speak and understand Hmong. Both are half Hmong. Some of the subtitles were missing in a few scenes also. All that is minor and no problem for Hmong speakers. Despite that, the subtitles are easy to follow and the storyline should not be lost in translation.

Waiting to hear back more details for the public to view Paj Ntaub. Many Hmong and non Hmong friends of mine want to see the movie. You will not be disappointed. I proudly recommend to watch it. My daughter asked, when is Seng going to make another movie?

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